The ‘Bridge Basic Center Program’ is the West Hartford-based organization’s newest program, designed to support runaways and homeless youth.
Submitted by Nancy Z. Hunt
The Bridge Family Center in West Hartford was recently granted $136,000 annually for the next three years to support its newest program, The Bridge Basic Center Program (Bridge BCP). This crisis-support program provides emergency assistance to runaway, homeless, and street youth under 18 of all orientations and genders (RHY) in the Greater Hartford area. Annually, Bridge BCP will assist approximately 130 youth with emergency services and support, and will offer between 15 and 30 RHY emergency shelter with temporary stays of up to 21 days.
The Bridge Executive Director Margaret Hann painted a vivid picture of the young clients who are in desperate need of help. “Imagine being a teenager living in fear on the streets, wondering when your next meal will be, or whose couch is available that evening. Imagine feeling lost, tired, lonely, afraid, and invisible,” said Hann. “The Bridge will now be able to do what we do best – offer a safe haven for young people and empower them to better their lives. We are thrilled to have this opportunity.”
The Bridge is the only provider of comprehensive RHY services in the Greater Hartford area, which has a primarily urban population of over 890,000. Each year, approximately 2,500 young adults ages 14-24, including approximately 165 RHY, access the Bridge’s wide array of services.
The Bridge BCP will be part of a comprehensive system of care that includes 24-hour crisis intervention services; stable, safe living accommodations; assessments; case management; and follow-ups. Referrals will be given for a variety of in-house and local services including family counseling with the goal of reunification; prevention and treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues; and opportunities to engage in education and life skills development.
Guided by the principles of Positive Youth Development and a core belief in each child’s innate self-righting capabilities, The Bridge BCP’s objectives are to increase immediate safety for young adults; build permanent relationships with family, caring adults, schools, and communities; and to foster healthy decision-making and long-term self-sufficiency. The ultimate goal is to ensure youth-in-crisis are equipped with the skills necessary for enduring wellness and an ability to overcome life’s challenges.
The Bridge was formed in 1969 to meet the needs of young people in the community who were engaged in high-risk behavior and has grown to become a comprehensive, regional, nonprofit agency offering a broad range of services to children, youth, and families in the Greater Hartford area.