Youth Villages stories
Finding Independence: Chris’s Story
Every year, the Youth Villages LifeSet™ program helps more than 4,000 young people across the county navigate challenges as they reach adulthood. These young people are resilient and capable, but without support, they are more likely to struggle to achieve housing, maintain employment at a living wage and build supportive relationships.
Chris is one of the more than 450 young people we help each year through our LifeSet program in Massachusetts.
As Chris was growing up, his mom was hospitalized, and his dad couldn’t care for him. Chris had multiple challenges of his own – both mental and physical health issues. His lack of stable parents made him at risk for negative outcomes. He was seen as particularly vulnerable and the Department of Children and Families got involved. At age 11, Chris went to live in a group home. While there, he didn’t know what the next steps would be or when they would occur. He lived there for the next ten years and as he reached adulthood, he didn’t have the natural support system that most young people build.
At Youth Villages, we believe that every young person can reach their full potential and achieve their goals. Our LifeSet program has helped over 20,000 young people across the country aging out of state custody and other care arrangements successfully transition to independence.
As Chris was about to turn 21, he was informed that he would have to leave the group home because of his age. It was time for Chris to move out of the only home he had known and live on his own for the first time. Chris advocated to live independently but the group home staff knew that he would need extra support if he was going to successfully transition to living on his own. The group home referred Chris to LifeSet where he could get the one-on-one support he needed.
In the LifeSet program Chris worked on money management and budgeting, creating professional and personal boundaries, maintaining independent housing, cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping. Chris also received support from LifeSet for his mental health needs around suicidal ideation. LifeSet provided the safety net and skills training he needed to achieve his goal of living on his own.
Chris is on more than ten daily medications for diabetes management, blood pressure and mental health and before moving into his own apartment, he had never taken his medications independently, including the daily use of syringes to take his insulin. Our specially trained LifeSet specialists work with program participants in community settings such as their home, school or place of employment and are available 24/7 to help young adults like Chris gain the skills they need to live independently and successfully. Working with LifeSet, Chris learned how to manage his medications, including how to properly store and dispose of them.
“In every beginning there is an end and in every end there is a beginning. I’ve always been afraid of the end but what I’ve seen with LifeSet is a new beginning for me and it’s going really well!”
Chris is settled into his new apartment and is working toward a degree in biology. He is starting a veterinary training program and plans to be a veterinarian once he graduates from college.