To support the positive development of young people, The Franciscan Center promotes the concept of asset building so as to hopefully be a part of the holistic approach to youth development along with family, schools, community organizations, faith congregations, etc. These assets are the positive building blocks that youth need to grow up to be healthy, principled, and caring adults. The more assets youth have, the more likely they are to engage in positive behaviors, such as volunteering or doing well in school. They are also less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors.
The Forty Developmental Assets
Our programs (Transitional Independent Living Program and Supported Residence) clearly include all the categories in the holistic care we offer to runaway homeless youth.
Support: Our home-like approach, our independent living skills training which includes communications skills, and our diverse supportive staff afford about as close to an alternative family support as possible. We are located in a residential neighborhood with a good name among neighbors.
Empowerment: Our staff portrays positive community values. We often participate in community functions such as such as neighborhood clean-up, civic events, etc. Over the years and still, residents are afforded opportunities to do volunteer work (hospital, nearby soup kitchen, etc.). Our atmosphere (home-like, non-institutional) is very safe. Residents are also offered safety training on intake.
Boundaries & Expectations: Both programs demand accountability. Curfews, house rules, prompt return after outings, appointments, etc. makes all this clear. Family involvement is sometimes encouraged and other times some distance is recommended due to hostility, tensions, and needed “cooling off” time. Again, our diverse staff serve as positive adult role models and mentors. We do have expectations of our residents, as we want them to believe in themselves.
Constructive Use of Time: Residents complete a weekly schedule and are encouraged to use a personal pocket calendar. This helps with accountability, planning, and time management. The house schedule has a rhythm even though each resident has outside activities. Various in-house (weights, working out, etc.) and outside (nearby parks, gym, etc.) recreational activities are part of the program. Any resident who wishes to practice a particular faith or go out for religious experience is encouraged. Outings with appropriate friends and family is coordinated as part of the individual service plan and adjusted as circumstances and the resident’s personal situation.
Commitment to Learning: The Independent Living Skills Programs is intense and on-going. To use the program positively, the resident must have a commitment to learn. School and GED preparation are part of one’s service plan in most cases. A quiet hour exists during the week to afford time for homework, reflection, 12 step work, etc. Staff stay in close contact with the resident’s school and attend parent/teacher conferences, etc. Reading is highly encouraged and an in-house library exists in both of our programs.
Positive Values: Personal interaction, appropriate social skills, tolerance and acceptance are all lack of prejudice and labeling, are all part of our philosophy. Our program has youth of different races, ethnic background, socio-economic status, religious and cultural diversity, etc. We help youth deal with such diversity and learn to get along and grow together. Honesty is a must. We literally tell residents: “Trust is earned.” Responsibility is also a must for example in working one’s service plan, doing daily chores, helping with meals, etc. Restraint, avoiding drugs, alcohol, and improper sexual behavior are all part of our philosophy as well as house rules.
Social Competencies: These are a major part of the independent living program. Planning and decisions making are done and reviewed periodically via the individual service plan. Residents must make decisions, even when they are tough and may involve their moving out of the program. We have already mentioned assistance in growing in health interpersonal communications skills. Cultural competence, respect of that of others, and not being overcome by peer pressure is very much a part of our on-going case management and group interaction. Conflict resolution is done with the help of staff via one-one-one, group, and sometimes with a facilitator and the “other” with whom a resident is in conflict.
Positive Identity: The youth, even as spelled in RHYA regulations, is very much a part of the service plan (goals, etc.). Self-esteem building is one of the hallmarks of our programs, it is specifically a part of our mission/philosophy. Growing in a sense of value and purpose is evident in the residents who remain in the program for a longer time period. Gaining a positive life outlook and view of the future is our goal for each resident. This is accomplished by a combination of these Developmental Assets.