CHD’s Caring Together Residential Homes focus on the strengths each child or adolescent brings to their situation. Sometimes getting up each day, willing yourself to survive a difficult situation is enough; other times there are unique talents and abilities. There’s always something right. Are there challenges when kids are in residential care? Of course. But we ask ourselves, “what do they do well? How can we build on that?” And that’s what we focus on.
Caring Together Group Homes also focus on the family. Whether or not a child is going to be reunified, family therapy is offered to help improve relationships and to connect children with their family in a way that will ultimately help prepare them to be successful in the community.
All programs focus on integrating residents into the community. They attend school and often work in retail stores, grocery stores, child care centers and a variety of other setting. They might also volunteer at an animal shelter or nursing facility. Participating is recreational activities – some kids have been on the swim team, involved in cheerleading or other sports teams – and in community activities are also encouraged.
Allen Street is an intensive group home in Springfield serving girls 12 – 18 years old. Many adolescents referred to this program come from inpatient psychiatric hospitals. They often struggle with issues related to trauma, abuse, depression, self harm and substance abuse among others. The on-site team provides integrated mental health, occupational therapy and nursing services, combined with direct care staff who are specially trained and included in the treatment plan. Having clinical services on-site offers a unique opportunity to truly integrate care.
The Northampton Street home serves 15 – 21 year old girls. The adolescents reside in the home, but attend school or vocational programs in the community. Because these youth are transition age and may soon be living on their own, there is a strong focus on developing independent living skills and on education. They often obtain part-time jobs, participate in household management activities, such as cooking, cleaning and shopping – in addition to receiving counseling and psychiatric services as needed.
Our commitment doesn’t stop when adolescents leave our programs; we also offer “follow along” services. This program acts as a bridge when kids leave residential services and transition into the community. Both a member of the clinical staff and the case manager “follow along” into the community, offering continuity of services and assisting the youth and family to be successful.
Dakota House is a home for boys 16 years old and older who are preparing, but not quite ready, for independent living. Dakota House offers a safe and secure environment, while preparing residents for success not only once they are on their own, but throughout their lives. The residents learn independent living skills, how to develop and achieve goals and advocate for themselves. They are completing high school or may have just started college. Youth participate in community activities and are encouraged to seek part-time employment. Dakota House also offers “stepping out” services where a staff member works with the resident after they leave the program. They help them continue to live independently, get a drivers license, budget, register for school or services and do many, many other things to help ensure a successful transition.
Referrals to all Caring Together Group Homes are made through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the Department of Mental Health (DMH). If you think one of these programs might be right for you or a child you know, please talk to your DCF or DMH caseworker.
CHD Caring Together Group Homes are grateful for the support of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. Grant funds from the WFWM will be utilized to provide those in our programs with experiences outside of what the state funding provides. As they are referred to us by DCF and DMH, we do all that we can to make sure that they can experience things “normal” kids get to do. In the past we’ve taken residents to the historical sites in Boston, aquarium trips to Boston or Mystic, Six Flags outings, or a fancy night out complete with fancy dresses, a limo ride to a fine-dining restaurant, and etiquette lessons.