Centreville Bank awards 3-year, $300K grant to Child & Family’s Independent Living Program

MIDDLETOWN – A new housing opportunity has been made available for Rhode Island youth who grew up in group or foster care and are aging out of the system thanks to a three-year, $300,000 grant made by Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation to Child & Family Rhode Island, the nonprofit announced earlier this week.

Most youth who grow up in foster or group care, explained Child & Family President and CEO Marty Sinnott, reach age 18 are no longer eligible for assistance yet lack a permanent living arrangement or legal relationship with an adult.

According to Child & Family data, roughly 80 youth aged out of group and foster care in Rhode Island in fiscal year 2016 while 140 did so in fiscal year 2015.

Calling the 2015 figure a “spike” in recent years, Sinnott said it still “shouldn’t be a big surprise … historically, Rhode Island has relied too heavily on group care.”

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“They’re vulnerable,” he said of the group.

Starting this year, the grant will be doled out in three equal parts over the next three calendar years to fund Child & Family’s new Bridge to Success Independent Living Program.

To-date, two area youth have signed up for ILP and hopefully, said Sinnott, enrollment will grow to eight or 10 by the end of this year.

ILP will provide these youth with safe housing as well as guidance and training – including educational guidance, employment counseling, life skills training, assistance in developing community ties as well as health care access – from a Child & Family ILP case manager, according to the release.

Child & Family hopes to expand the program to accommodate up to thirty youth by its third year.

Sinnott, believes ILP will compliment the state’s proposed January 2019 Young Adult Voluntary Extension of Care Act by providing “critical resources and services to foster youth 18 to 21 years old.”

In a statement, he said: “How many of our own 17-year-old kids, from intact families and free from major financial stress, could walk out the door on their eighteenth birthdays with nothing and make it completely on their own? The proposed [state] act is an important step in restoring support that previously existed and this grant from the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation will help build better policy and practice.”

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.