In 1997, Boys and Girls Country established the College and Career Program (C&C) to continue offering a family for our kids to come home to – beyond high school graduation – as they follow their own, individual paths to adulthood. Since that time, 111 of our kids have graduated from high school, and 26 have graduated from college or a technical program.
While the C&C program has been amazing for our children, we recognize the challenges of transitioning from a structured environment, with Teaching Parents directing their daily lives, to a life after high school which is independent. The Boys and Girls Country Transitional Living Program, implemented this year, is designed to help equip students with the skills needed for independence and life on a college campus or a less structured environment. The program utilizes a three-phase approach with staff support, curriculum learning, and practical application of independent living skills. This holistic approach promotes the emotional, spiritual and behavioral stability required for successful independent living. It also teaches our kids how to adjust to becoming independent adults.
This spring, all 5 of our high school graduates transitioned from living with their cottage family to living independently through this program. Transitioning from the structure of cottage life to independence has made them even more aware of the balance needed to be successful in life.
The first day in the Transitional Living cottage was very eventful. During the first family meeting, the students established house rules, chore assignments, and a laundry schedule. When Mr. Malcolm, program manager, asked what was for dinner the students had no response. That’s not something our kids typically worry about, and it took a moment for that sense of responsibility to sink in.
“The next 20 minutes were amazing to see,” shares program mentor Cassie Parkin. “The students went from being very hesitant at first to taking inventory of the pantry and the fridge. They wanted to figure out what they needed and what they actually wanted, and make a weekly meal plan based on that. This was a good lesson for the students as they were reminded that independent living does not mean the pantry would be magically stocked for them!”
By the end of that meeting, our students had meals planned for the week, a commissary list filled out, a grocery list ready for shopping, and an ownership of the kitchen that can only come by getting together and making a plan. The Transitional Living Program creates a bridge which helps our students build confidence towards becoming self-sustaining contributing adults and fulfilling the ongoing mission of Boys and Girls Country.