Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Semi-independent living

Had a meeting with Tom tonight, who heads the SIL portion of Growth Works. This would be basically 16-17 year olds who need a stable environment and guidance in life skills. Basically, in this scenario, at the least, we would be "house providers," which would be our official name. Doug calls it a "hotel with rules." We would not be guardians, we would not be foster parents, we would just be providing a place to stay, meals, and support as much as we want. Tom said the purpose of SIL is to be as little impact on the adults as possible. This was not what we were prepared for, so we asked if we could be more involved. As much as we want to be, was the reply.

Growth Works has 3 people who would coordinate an SIL kid's life. It is a requirement that the kid be working, going to school, or both if they can handle it. They have a person who helps plan the kid's education (selections of classes at school, trade school/community college/college, etc). They have a person who coordinates employment, usually as close to the living place as possible. We were deemed an excellent location for that, with lots of fast food restaurants, a mall, and a couple strip malls within a short drive/long walking distance. And the third person, Tom, is like the manager - helps do everything else such as dr. appointments, shopping for clothes, and anything else the kid needs to do. Like I said, as little impact on the "house providers" as possible.

We asked, what if we wanted to be more involved? Like shopping, everyday stuff, etc. Tom said we were welcome to be as involved as everyone is comfortable with, but sometimes (like dr. appts) we can't unless it's an emergency - we are not authorized to allow medical treatment. Tom is. The only thing we can legally do is register the kid for school, and even that requires a special piece of paper from GW.

The upside, and what we believe we can definitely do - it would be our responsibility, as "house providers," to teach the boy basic skills of living. Examples given by Tom were: Clean his room. Help with chores around the house. Do his own laundry. Go to a bank. Open a bank account. Learn to grocery shop. Cut coupons. Pay (minor) bills. Begin to budget. The skills of life that most of these kids have not experienced, due to dysfunctional family/environment. The idea that if the kid were to walk out our door on his 18th birthday, he could essentially earn a minimum wage paycheck and know what to do with it. Be a productive citizen, I call it.

We asked Tom, as we signed the papers qualifying us to host an SIL child (not that we'll have a 16-17 year old; there's also the younger set we still have to do foster paperwork for), did he have a child already in mind for us? He laughed and said he didn't, but he was sure Sarah probably had 3 or 4 kids in the back of her mind. He would be meeting with her tomorrow to talk about our meeting.

Lastly, Tom took a tour of our house to make sure we had the facilities to provide for a child in our home (we do). And then an approximation of our inflow and outflow of $$ to make sure that we can pay our own bills, and would not be using the stipend provided for the boy for our own uses. We passed that too. If we didn't, I suppose we should have other things to worry about!

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