“Your Aftercare Program is a vital part of the conclusion of the Bonnie-Brae Program. We are all so grateful for everyone at Bonnie Brae that helped us through the program. We hit a lot of speed bumps in the road in the beginning and ended with a remarkable smooth road. Anyone that sees Donald to this day cannot believe the change in him. Thank you all!!!!!” ~ Parents of a former Bonnie Brae student
Bonnie Brae recognizes that our service cannot end when young men walk out of our doors. The Aftercare Program is a natural extension of our Continuum of Care and an integral part of our mission to help young men reclaim their futures and become productive, responsible citizens in their communities.
Aftercare assists our graduates at their most statistically vulnerable point: returning to their home communities after completing treatment; or beginning life as an independent adult after aging out of child welfare services. Prior to its creation, many promising young men who had successfully graduated from our intensive education and therapeutic program on campus found themselves thrust into the real world without the guidance and support an intact family would normally provide. When these former residents were confronted by the challenges of life, they had no one to turn to for help. More than 20,000 young people age out of foster care and child services in the United States every year. Numerous research, including the 2007 “Midwest Study” conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, shows that without a connection to a caring adult, older youth face a future of uncertainty and are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations, including substance abuse, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and prison. Young men, in particular, are in crisis, especially boys of color and those from challenged backgrounds. The Aftercare Program was created to serve this need by providing a system to offer continued clinical support and therapy, emotional support, tangible support and continued guidance as these young people reintegrate into their families or are learning to support themselves and navigate society. With the right guidance and attention, their odds of becoming successful, independent adults increase dramatically. With the Aftercare Program as an essential component of our continuum of services, Bonnie Brae is better able to fulfill its mission to provide the highest quality of care possible to New Jersey’s youth in need, for as long as there is need.
Participants in our Aftercare Program are both successfully and unsuccessfully discharged residents from Bonnie Brae’s intensive therapeutic residential program, as well as residents moving out on their own from one of our community-based transitional living residences in Bound Brook, New Brunswick, or Bridgewater, New Jersey. The most important objectives of the Aftercare Program are maintaining regular contact and providing necessary services to former residents to help them achieve success in the transition to independent living. Trained Bonnie Brae Aftercare staff members help these young men develop, plan and achieve their personal goals for the future.
The primary goals of the program are to help former residents, based on individual needs, with the following:
- Finding safe, affordable housing
- Securing stable employment
- Continuing their education or securing vocational training
- Managing their physical and mental challenges
- Building healthy adult relationships
- Coordinating social services
- Developing life skills of self-sufficiency such as shopping, budgeting and locating transportation
- Providing family counseling for those who are returning to families that need to address dysfunctional relationships that could contribute to behavior regression