"Almost On Our Own" Program

The “Almost on Our Own”  program (AO), is a specialized program designed for the older court ordered youth and will prepare them to enter independence. The candidate should be close to graduation from high school or have their GED or HiSET. If the prospective candidate is coming from another facility, they must be doing well in their current placement. Before acceptance into the AO program, an interview is required with the candidate and their caseworker to clarify plans and expectations. The candidate must be capable of living independently, maintaining employment and must be motivated to become independent. If accepted into the program, we would place them  on a 30 day trust building period to establish level of trustworthiness. The AO program will provide a structured daily routine that will allow the participant the opportunity to practice decision making skills, employment skills including work ethic and IL exercises and activities. Due to the expense in living independently, and preparation time involved,  it is recommended that the youth participate in the AO program at least 6 months prior to aging out. . 

This program was developed as we had youth participating in the YAHA program that did not have a strong stable plan prior to aging out of the system. . Youth aging out of care are typically not successful. We feel many of the problems and poor decisions that youth make as they begin independence can be attributed to lack of experience. Many of them have spent a significant amount of time in facilities where they are told what to do and when to do it providing no independent thinking or decision making.

The AO program is completely trust based and provides opportunities and privileges that will allow the youth to practice making decisions on their own with gentle guidance from staff while still living in a structured environment. If youth are employed and productive, they may have a cell phone and have outings and privileges outside the scope of group home activities. Of course, all activities will be approved by their caseworker.  Most importantly, the youth will learn how to successfully have a say in their life and their choices. A successful and established AO youth will not  hear the word "no", they will  instead hear the word, "why?" 

Each youth will have an independent living plan, developed by the youth, staff, caseworker, independent living coordinator and their therapist.  This plan will also identify problem areas the youth may still have and address appropriate consequences for slipping into non-productive behaviors. There will be incentives and rewards provided for utilizing good decision making and  successful employment/educationYAHA will coordinate to ensure each youth is in possession of their Birth Certificate, Social Security card and their Drivers License (by taking Drivers Education). The youth will be expected to save at least 75% of their earnings toward their future expenses in establishing a place to live, purchase of a vehicle and insurance (if there is no public transportation available).  All college paperwork and financial aid will be completed as well if the plan includes college.  It is our goal at YAHA that an AO participant aging out of care has an appropriate place to live, reliable transportation and employment/college readiness as they enter independence.