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Antoine, not another statistic

July 12, 2010

Antoine with Transitional Living specialist Jackie Coleman

Transitional Living helps teens aging out of foster care defy the odds

Stability was a foreign concept to Antoine, who was adopted at 3 months old, then pulled out of his adoptive home and put into foster care.

“I wasn’t into the foster kid thing,” Antoine says. “I got into a little bit of trouble, went to a few programs, but I was stubborn.”

At age 18, Antoine was faced with another period of potential instability and unknowns: adulthood. It’s stressful enough for any teenager to leave home and begin to live independently, but for teenagers in state custody like Antoine was, “aging out” of the system with little or no support can be especially challenging. Studies show that young adults leaving state custody are at great risk of becoming homeless, unemployed or ending up in jail.

But Antoine refuses to become a statistic.

“Antoine has amazing potential, and he just needed a chance to learn the necessary skills and develop the confidence to live independently.” — Jackie Coleman, Youth Villages Transitional Living specialist

His determination to rise above the odds motivated him to participate in the Youth Villages Transitional Living program after being referred by his social worker in the summer of 2009. Youth Villages’ TL specialists help young people learn to deal with the minor and major problems that come with adulthood. They help participants find housing and health services, and learn how to access transportation and meet their basic needs. Specialists teach life skills from budgeting to job searching, from educational planning to grocery shopping. They help young people create permanent relationships and support systems, sometimes even helping them reunite with their family to assist them long after Youth Villages is gone.

Antoine meets regularly with TL Specialist Jackie Coleman. “She’s multi-purpose,” Antoine says about Jackie. “I was supposed to be out looking for an apartment, and Jackie came along. She helped me get a plan and helped me with managing school, money and everything I need.”

Equally positive about the work Antoine has done while in the program, Coleman says: “It’s a privilege to walk beside Antoine as he gains these skills and accomplishes many successes. With very little support, Antoine has been able to maintain his own apartment, balance two jobs and pay his bills and rent on time.”

Antoine is also pursuing career interests in film and psychology. He plans to re-enroll in classes at Northern Essex Community College this fall and recently participated in an informational interview with a screenwriter/playwright/producer from the Boston area to learn more about local opportunities in the film industry.

“He works really hard,” Jackie says. “Antoine has amazing potential, and he just needed a chance to learn the necessary skills and develop the confidence to live independently. And while there’s still a lot to work on, he’s a survivor and he’s smart. Antoine’s learning, and he’s doing everything he needs to do in order to succeed.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Steven Messer permalink
    August 13, 2010 5:52 pm

    Antoine, I really admire your motivation and courage. You truly have come a long way, but still have a long way to go. The road doesn’t end after graduation, but it branches into many roads. You must choose the one that best suits you. Good luck in all that you do. If you are ever in need of motivational support, we are all here for you!

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