“If it weren’t for the Van Houten House and Bonnie Brae, college would not have been possible for me. They helped me learn to manage my issues and get my life on track.” ~Kente, transitional living resident
As one of New Jersey’s oldest, largest, and most respected residential treatment centers for at-risk youth, the staff at Bonnie Brae is acutely aware of the problem of locating suitable residences for young people who have successfully completed treatment programs in the State. In response to the very real needs of our residents, who often decompensate when no favorable discharge option can be identified, Bonnie Brae has established three community-based transitional living residences: one in New Brunswick, The Powers House, which opened in 2005; one in Bound Brook, the Van Houten House, which opened in April of 2013; and one in Bridgewater, the Brozowski Liberty House, which opened in 2015 and is Bonnie Brae’s first home for young men, ages 18-21.
The Van Houten House, Powers House and Brozowski Liberty House residences are home to a total of 21 young men at a time. Residents stay for approximately one year, based on personal progress and circumstances, at which time individuals will move out on their own to appropriate independent living options such as an apartment, group home or college. The primary goals for the transitional living program are to provide our young men with exposure to and practice with the life and job skills they will need to live as independent adults. At the homes, residents actually put into practice what they have been taught, but in a less restrictive environment where more is expected of them. They learn how to independently manage their time, attending school and juggling jobs and activities. They also learn other essential life skills, including home maintenance, meal preparation, laundry, personal finance, and how to use public transportation. Perhaps most importantly, they work on healthy behavior and relationship building: communicating, managing conflict, and developing friendships with housemates, in school and in the community. This vital transition period will build and reinforce both competence and confidence in these vulnerable young men, dramatically improving the chances of a successful move to independent life.
The New Brunswick, Bound Brook and Bridgewater Community Based Transitional Living Residences represent a positive next step in helping these young men progress successfully from adolescent dependency to independent adulthood, immersed in real life activities, but still supervised by caring, trained Bonnie Brae staff-mentors. The program strengthens the fragile progress achieved on-campus; completes the cycle of treatment; promotes the prevention of regression; and provides a greater chance for ultimate success in the transition to independent life. With this valuable addition to 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.