LIFE Program

L.I.F.E.

In 2002, HANDY developed its LIFE (Life Skills, Independent Living, Foundation Building, Education and Employment) Program, the first of its kind in the state of Florida, to serve youth who do not qualify for Foster Care Independent Living programs. Our award winning LIFE program uniquely combines case management, group activities, and education services in a “supportive” family environment. HANDY focuses on youth development, education, and economic self-sufficiency.

All youth are paired with a dedicated Life Coach that through case management services empower youth to become successful young adults. Our youth also engage in group program activities that include tutoring, social and recreational activities, life skills training, service learning projects, and self-advocacy. Youth and their families also have access to emergency needs assistance for food, clothing, and housing. Youth also have access to receive counseling services through our in house licensed clinical therapist.

*All programs and services are provided free of charge to our youth and families.

THE NEED

In constructing this unique program model, HANDY realized that many youth living with relative and non-relative caregivers were facing the same problems and had the same needs as youth living in Foster Care. Youth placed with relative and non-relative caregivers are not eligible for the services that Foster Care children receive, even though they are facing the same fears, anxieties, and feelings. Most of these caregivers are economically disadvantaged and are not eligible for the funding that is provided to youth in Foster Care. HANDY, recognized the needs of this population and began providing youth necessary support services – on a daily basis – in November 2002 and spearheaded the initiative to bring this issue before local leaders in our community.

Since then HANDY has evolved to now serve older youth (ages 22 – 25) who are aging out of the Foster/Relative Care System, youth who may be homeless or on the verge of homelessness, youth who have been involved in the Juvenile Justice system, youth who identify as LGBTQ and youth who are currently unemployed and/or been out of school for over a semester or have dropped out.

THE IMPORTANCE

The LIFE Program has built its foundation in understanding the needs of its participants and has been the surrogate family that provides the consistency our youth need. For many youth, HANDY’s LIFE Program is often one of the only stable and familiar factors in their lives and one of the few programs where services are tailored to meet individualized needs without restrictive criteria that other service providers may be bound by.

THE DIFFERENCE

Our youth know that once they are in the LIFE Program, they have acquired a family for LIFE. Once a youth is in the LIFE Program, the program will follow them through the “system”, from placement to placement, through each stage of life, through each struggle, fear and accomplishment and to college and beyond… As with any strong family, the “legacy” of the LIFE Program is handed down by a united group of inspired and motivated program Alumni, who come back to work, volunteer and mentor their younger peers, driving in the message that no matter how young or old, “We are One LIFE”.

THE METHOD

HANDY’s programs expose our youth to unique activities and resources to help empower them to succeed. Our philosophy is to Embrace, Educate and Empower!

EMBRACE

The LIFE Program offers individual, group and ongoing support services including:

•   Emergency needs assistance for food, clothing, beds, housing, transportation, healthcare and bus passes
•   Individual and group LIFE Skills instruction
•   Social and recreational activities that include: drama, dance, fitness, music instruction and production, art, chess, poetry and spoken word, golf and swimming
•   Back to School Shopping and Holiday gifts
•   Referrals to Community Resources
•   Individual case management/ LIFE Coaching

EDUCATE

The LIFE Program provides tutoring and educational activities including:

•   Prevention Education (drop out, pregnancy, substance abuse, anti-bullying, juvenile crime)
•   Tutoring from certified teachers, peers, and volunteers
•   Homework assistance and completion liaison with BRACE Advisors and Guidance Counselors at individual schools to ensure that youth are on track for graduation
•   College tours
•   College preparation and inclusion services

EMPOWER

The LIFE Program encompasses activities that promote self-sufficiency and empowerment including:

•   Employment skills training
•   Career exploration and corporate exposure
•   Job Shadowing & Career Mentoring
•   Service Learning projects/Paid Internships/Job placement
•   Job skills training on resume writing, interviewing techniques, dress for success, and more
•   Florida Youth Shine Advocacy Committee

THE OUTCOME

The goal for youth in the LIFE Program is to:

•   Attain academic or vocational/education goals that are in keeping with the youth’s abilities and interests
•   Have sufficient economic resources to meet their daily needs
•   Postpone parenthood until financially established and emotionally mature
•   Avoid illegal/high risk behaviors
•   Have a safe and stable place to live
•   Have access to physical and mental health services
•   Have a sense of connectedness to persons and community

 

The LIFE Program is evaluated each year by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. The most recent Results Based Performance Accountability Report for FY 12/13 reflected the following performance measures for HANDY’s LIFE Program:

•   99% of youth ages 15-19 did not become pregnant (females) or cause a pregnancy (males)
•   97% of youth had no new law violations
•   89% of youth increased basic employability skills
•   87% of youth made progress in school, graduated or obtained a GED, and/or are employed
•   98% of youth have stable housing