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Among teens aging out of foster care, one in five will become homeless. One in four will become involved in the criminal justice system. Alisa Griffiths aims to change those statistics.
Alisa began working with PCHAS as a foster care case manager in Springfield, Missouri. She loved the job and her team. In 2014 she began managing Ashley House, one of the agency’s homes for youth aging out of the foster care system. “Youth in residential programs are just trying to grow up,” she explains. “Like most kids this age, they are unsure of their abilities and need opportunities to learn and practice. We give them a homelike environment with structure and therapeutic resources.”
PCHAS operates three similar residential programs in Missouri. They are licensed for youth ages 11-20 and include one of the only programs in the state to accept youth who are diabetic. Each home offers opportunities for age-appropriate activities and experiences. Youth are required to finish high school or earn an equivalent diploma. Many earn a license to drive. Last year, 16 girls at Ashley House were eligible to work. All of them obtained employment and, in a difficult economy, 68% maintained their jobs for three months or more.
To help these youth heal from their past trauma, staff in these residences train in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®). This approach addresses fear-based behaviors and teaches healthy emotional attachment and coping skills. “But our kids are not broken,” Alisa says. “They are regular kids who have survived situations that would break many adults.”
Alisa explains that the programs in Springfield and Columbia serve girls, while the program in Farmington serves boys, and she is inspired by all of them: “They have a strength that they don’t yet realize. I am amazed every day by their progress.”
Recently Alisa was promoted to director of PCHAS’ Missouri residential programs, a new position that will standardize the curriculum at the three sites. “I have always enjoyed the creative aspect of my job and feel that this is a way to develop programming that could meet the needs of youth statewide. Residential staff are exceptionally creative and passionate about what they do and we are very excited about what 2021 will bring.”
Learn more about our programs that help youth make the transition to independence inand .