The relationship with The Night Ministry doesn't end when residents move on from the agency's Youth Housing Programs.
"The Night Ministry provides comprehensive case management for young people who have been discharged from our housing programs," said Bridget Thomas, Housing Stabilization Specialist. "We want to help them maintain their stability and independence."
Residents meet with Thomas before they leave so she can assess how she can assist them after they discharge. She maintains contact through regularly scheduled check-ins and is also available when needed.
Thomas said the type of assistance she offers varies from client to client. "Some young people might need referrals for employment, so I will pass along a job lead when I get it," she said. "Other times it's information about educational programs."
Helping clients make adjustments to independent living is also important. "When they are in our programs, they receive essentials like food. They have a place to wash their clothes," she said. "But when they leave they don't always have those things."
"We have ongoing conversations about what it takes to remain in their living situations. If you quit your job, you may not able to stay in your apartment."
William, a former resident of The Night Ministry's Interim Housing and STEPS Transitional Living Programs who now has his own apartment, enjoys staying connected with Thomas.
"She always lifts my spirits," he said, adding that Thomas has helped him secure employment, find a therapist, connect with supportive services in the community, and supplied him with bus cards and food to make ends meet when times were tight.
Thomas said there are challenges to providing aftercare services. "When minors leave our programs, sometimes they don't leave correct contact information. Or their parents might not want to engage with aftercare because they are embarrassed about their housing situation," she said.
And while she might lose contact with some clients, Thomas said that doesn't necessarily mean they are struggling. "A lot of times it's because they are doing well. They just don't need as much help anymore."