The Branching Out® Independent Living program offers unique service options to young men and women ages 14 to 24. These options are designed to fill in service gaps, create much needed structure and skill development and increase success rates for foster care and former foster care youth or those at risk of crisis for other socio-economic reasons.
Children who “age out” of the foster care system face a myriad of problems transitioning from dependence toward living productive, independent lives as self-sufficient adults.
Branching Out is an independent living program that aims to help young adults who live on their own off campus with support from Omaha Home for Boys staff members and programs. Branching Out fills an often neglected niche in continued and effective care in the State of Nebraska.
Young adults in the program have access to social services, life skills development, education assistance, scholarships, Independent Living Specialists and many other opportunities and services. Participants also have access to Youth Mart, owned and operated by the Home in a collaborative effort with several local agencies, to provide youth with necessities for independent living.
Meeting A Need
Studies show once young men and women involuntarily leave foster care, they face greater challenges and risks to their success than other youth. These risks include less likelihood of completing education goals, finding safe and affordable housing, obtaining and maintaining jobs and utilizing community resources. Young men are at significant risk to have contact with law enforcement and be incarcerated, creating a strain on both the young adult and the system at large.
The Omaha Home for Boys’ Branching Out program aims to keep youth from falling through these gaps. Support, communication and planning are all equally important to ensuring the youth can maintain self-sustained, independent living after program completion.
Transitioning to Independence
Staff associated with Branching Out assist each participant to create a personalized independent living plan, which helps with identifying long-term and short-term goals, education options and employment prospects. This is a youth-directed and staff-guided exercise. Young adults track their plan along with Independent Living Specialists throughout their time in the program.
Program goals include:
- Creating individual plans
- Establishing and maintaining sibling contact and relationships
- Following outcomes-oriented curriculum and utilizing educational support
- Young people in the program also receive support for safe and affordable housing, physical and behavioral health resources and job skills training