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Bridge Family Center in West Hartford Launches ‘Host Home’ Foster Care Program

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The ‘Host Home’ Program will allow The Bridge Family Center to directly assist youth in need of foster care.

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By Nancy Hunt

The Bridge Family Center is now licensed to offer a child-placement and foster care program called Host Home. This new program allows the Bridge to place youths, ages 11-17, in need of respite from their current living situation, in safe, stable, temporary home environments.

The Bridge is currently recruiting Host Home parents who are willing to work with the Bridge, a youth in need, and his or her family to facilitate a safe transition to a more permanent home. Host parents will receive a modest daily stipend and ongoing training and support during the foster child’s stay.

In the state of Connecticut, each potential foster parent is required to complete Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP) training before a child can be placed in the home. The goal of the ten-week TIPS-MAPP training course is to help prospective Host Home parents decide whether or not fostering a child is right for their family.

TIPS-MAPP guides potential applicants through the complex issues they will face as Host Home parents. Through carefully designed activities, parents experience firsthand the challenges of fostering. Using both group and individual exercises, leaders will help parents decide if their expectations and abilities match the realities of being a Host Home parent. The training enables Host Home parents to work more effectively with children and their families.

The Host Home model is a short-term placement – typically a maximum of 21 days with the youth transitioning back to his or her home, or moving on to the Bridge’s Youth In Transition program or other similar living situation. In some instances, the therapeutic placement of a child may require a longer-term or more permanent placement.

There are many children in the Greater Hartford area who are in need of safe, reliable, calm, and caring living environments. If you are interested in becoming a Host Home and would like to foster a child in need, please contact Mike Rulnick, Bridge Director of Residential Services, at 860-521-6890. Interested and willing parents should specify whether or not a long-term placement is acceptable for their family.

The Bridge Family Center was founded in 1969 to meet the needs of West Hartford community youth who were engaged in high-risk behavior, especially substance abuse, and who were getting into trouble with the law. Over the next few years, the Bridge expanded its outreach efforts, opened a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, and began to work directly with schools. Today the Bridge is a comprehensive, regional nonprofit agency offering a broad range of services to children, youth, and families in the Greater Hartford area, with particular attention to serving those at risk.

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