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New house, program in Grand Rapids for teens aging out of foster care

D.A. Blodgett - St. John's, a child welfare service, opens a new home and offers support for teens aging out of foster care while they pursue jobs and education

Transitioning teens should feel independent, not alone. That’s the idea behind a new home opening on the campus of DA Blodgett-Saint John’s in Grand Rapids. It’s for 16- to 19-year-olds who have aged out of the foster care system, and don’t have a family or guardian to support them in the next phase of their lives.

President and CEO Mary Muliett says this phase is critical.

“We all want to be independent and none of us can do this life alone so we want the same for our youth. We want them to build independency skills, understand how to navigate their adulthood, but not to be alone ever.”

The home is part of the Independent Living Plus program which provides a safety net and offers specialized help for youth aging out of foster care.

Muliett says research consistently shows such youth face heightened risks of homelessness, human trafficking, and incarceration. The new program seeks to break those cycles. Residents will have access to therapy, coaches, peer groups and medical or psychiatric care.

“We’re hoping to support anywhere from 6-8 older youths in one home and really gain some success in that program and then we can think about doing more and opening additional homes.”

D.A. Blodgett is also looking for community partners that can offer help to transitioning teens, encouraging life-long connections with the community.

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