First Place for Youth’s flagship program, My First Place, is a nationally recognized model where program participants live in one or two bedroom apartments scattered throughout the community. They receive assistance with basic living expenses, and receive intensive case management and education and employment support services. The foundation provided by stable housing empowers young people to build communities, pursue their dreams, and pave their own way for successful, independent living for years to come.
First Place’s Housing Specialists identify appropriate apartments based on their safety and security, proximity to education and employment opportunities, and accessibility by public transit. First Place holds the master leases and manages the apartment units, allowing First Place for Youth’s Housing staff to act as an intermediary with landlords as program participants learn what it means to be a good tenant and neighbor.
First Place for Youth believes that all foster youth deserve to have the opportunity to successfully transition to independence as adults. To help support young people’s ability to maintain stable housing and continue toward their educational and career goals, First Place invests in individualized and small-group support to develop the life skills necessary to thrive, including money management, relationship building, self-advocacy, and healthy living. By providing young people with these practical skills, First Place prepares them to more successful in all avenues of their life.
Youth Advocates, who are masters level social workers, meet with the young people at their apartments or in their neighborhoods each week. These visits allow Youth Advocates to quickly assess and identify potential areas of concern and provide immediate feedback and coaching to address needs in the moment. During these visits independent living skills are not only discussed, but are actually practiced such as: bill payment and budgeting, cleaning and roommate mediation, conflict resolution, and identifying unhealthy influences.
Small workshops also provide young people the chance to learn about and share their experiences with a variety of independent living topics, many of which are especially important for foster kids. Common topics include: household management, consumer education, health and wellness, obtaining and correcting credit reports, relationship building, tenant rights and responsibilities, self advocacy, and mindfulness.
For many of the foster youth who enter the program, My First Place truly represents the first place they can call home. As they develop a sense of permanency, First Place for Youth’s dedicated staff help them set goals that move them toward greater independence.