A nationwide study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust found 35 percent of teens in foster care become homeless soon after aging out. One Waxahachie-based coalition hopes to curb that trend.
Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Service, also known as PCHAS, provides support and resources to combat that statistic. For the past two years, the Waxahachie location has refocused their transitional living program.
PCHAS offers a home for young adults from 18 to 24 years old who are aged out of foster care or are in need of additional encouragement.
Kandi Shaw, the senior single parent family coordinator and transitional living coordinator, explained the Waxahachie campus has been around since the 1960s. Over the years, the agency predominately served single-parent families battling homelessness. However, the transitional living program — which used to be a small portion of the agency — has now grown into a year-round option with a residence.
“Our intent was to provide for kids out of our agency who got aged out of foster care and are going to college who need that extra support,” Shaw explained. “That’s how it began, but we now expanded to the community and public.”
The program does, though, have specific criteria so it can aid the resident as efficiently as possible to have him or her transition into their own place.
For the initial inquiry, the potential resident needs to own a running vehicle with valid insurance and has to be working a minimum of 25 hours a week. Shaw mentioned it’s more common for the residents to be going to college or a school.
“You have to really be able to live independently with support. We don’t live in the home. It’s their space. We do come in and check things. We do have rules,” Shaw added.
Residents can not have a member of the opposite sex in the home at any time. Nor can he or she bring in any drugs or alcohol. Kids are prohibited and women cannot be pregnant, have a felony, and cannot be on disability.
Though, if one of these situations is holding a person back from applying to live in the transitional home, PCHAS can offer outside resources.
Currently, there is only one person utilizing the home. Shaw expects more to be admitted this month.
The 4,000-square foot home stands adjacent to the PCHAS property, blending into a neighborhood. The home is also divided into male and female quarters with separate kitchens and living spaces.
Rent starts at $25 a month, and the agency works with the resident’s budget to increase rent over time, exercising financial accountability.
“But, in the end, when they leave, they get all of that money back, so it’s like a savings account for them,” said Kristy Smith, the single parent family and transitional living coordinator.
“We call it rent because we want them to develop the responsibility of paying a bill,” Shaw piggybacked. “It’s kind of an accountability thing. It’s great if they need to put a deposit down on a new place or help pay off their vehicle.”
The residents are responsible for themselves, food and toiletries. If a resident were to get into a financial bind, Shaw said the agency would work with the individual to get them back on track.
Shaw referenced Smith as a “foster-care guru,” with 13 years of experience in North Texas with the field. Smith shared that youth who are 18 years old and choose to leave foster care are put in the “in-between step.” The transitional living home would aid the process of becoming an independent adult.
Shaw explained she helps the residents figure out health insurance, filing taxes, changing a flat tire, or determining if they need long-term disability when applying for a job.
The agency also meets with the residents on a weekly basis to review goals and conduct self-assessments. Before moving in, residents undergo a thorough two-hour assessment so the agency can pinpoint areas the candidate is struggling with. The agency reviews the person as a team and if they seem like applicant is a good fit for the program they will receive a move-in date.
If interested or need to learn more about the transitional living program for young adults, contact Shaw on her office line at 972-456-9460 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450