Making a Difference in the Lives of ChildrenBy Katherine E. Bono, LMSW, YASS Coordinator, The Children’s Center and Shawn Robinson, BS, Specialist II, Lead/Intake-YASS, The Children’s Center, Detroit
Many times, families ask us at The Children’s Center if host providers are the same as foster parents. The answer is no. So what exactly is a host provider and how are they different from a foster parent? A host provider mentors and provides a home to youth ages 16-21 who are part of our Young Adult Self Sufficiency (YASS) program and are transitioning to an independent living situation.
There are different goals for host providers than for foster families. A host provider is a bridge between dependence and independence for youth in the YASS program. Young people who are part of the program pay rent to their host provider and work to gain life skills for independent living. A host provider also does not have to be licensed as a foster parent does. Where a foster parent manages a child’s life while they are in their care, a host provider acts as a consultant for our YASS youth who are expected to take on more responsibilities.
Who are Host Providers?
Many of our host providers are parents who are raising or have raised children. They may want to make a difference in a young person’s life through mentoring and guiding. They may help the young person with life skills like opening a bank account, registering for school or applying for a job. Many of our host providers are family members of the youth we serve. Many YASS youth have a grandparent or aunt or uncle as their host provider. It is not uncommon for host providers to build long-lasting relationships with the youth they host. The young person may spend holidays with their former host provider or stay in the home during college breaks. A host provider can be any adult who can help a young person become a productive, independent adult!
What are the requirements of a host provider?
A host provider must provide a safe home to a young person that includes their own space and privacy. They must also charge rent. This is part of the learning process for the youth in the YASS program. The host provider can set rules and have reasonable expectations for the young person living in their home, just as a landlord might for a tenant. Families who apply to become a host provider are required to register and pass a clearance with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and pass a criminal background check. The Children’s Center will meet with the host family, visit the home and assess suitability for the program. The host family is also required to go through an orientation. Typically, a host provider must be able to commit to hosting for three to six months.
What is the need and what is the success rate?
So does the YASS program work? The stats speak volumes: 85% of teens in the program graduate high school and then go on to college or full-time work. So far, 18 teens have graduated; three are scheduled to attend a university; seven are scheduled to attend community college and five are gainfully employed.
And the need is there; the YASS program only serves a fraction of teens in the area that could benefit. About 50% of foster care teens do not graduate high school and approximately 40% become homeless in the first year that they leave foster care. And 21.5% of Michigan teens ages 16-19 are unemployed.
How does The Children’s Center support host providers?
The Children’s Center YASS Specialists work closely with the host provider and are ultimately responsible for the youth in the program. YASS Specialists visit the host provider home monthly and monitor the young person’s progress. Host providers have access to all programs offered by The Children’s Center and can call a 24-hour hotline for emergencies. The Children’s Center delivers a detailed intake process that includes surveys to make the best match between host providers and young people. The host family can count on The Children’s Center as a resource providing the tools and training needed to create a successful situation for both the provider and the young person.
How do you become a host provider?
The Children’s Center is actively seeking host providers and building a bank of providers to call on as youth enter the program throughout the Detroit area, not just in Wayne County but surrounding counties. Current host families will receive a $100 referral bonus for any family they refer that becomes a host provider. Representatives from The Children’s Center are available to speak to groups about the program and educate potential host providers. If you are interested in becoming a host provider or having someone speak to your group about the program, please call Shereen Allen-Youngblood or Shawn Robinson at (313) 262-1078. For more information, visit The Children’s Center Web site and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.