Empty Stocking Fund: Teen's 'team' working to get him on track

By: Jesse Paul, Special to The Gazette
December 7, 2013 Updated: December 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm
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This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.


If not for the Prospect Youth Group Home, Isaiah, 16, thinks he would be in jail.

"Right now, I don't have a mom or a dad to go to," he said. "My team is trying to figure out where I should go because my mom and dad don't want me."

Isaiah's team consists of his probation officer, therapist, case worker and a legal guardian, all of whom have been working to keep him out of trouble and in a safe place since a run-in with the law and subsequent failure to abide by pretrial guidelines left him facing legal consequences.

The solution? The Prospect Youth Group Home, a program run by the Griffith Centers for Children, which offers a multitude of community aid through Chins Up Youth and Family Services, including crisis respite care, therapeutic foster homes, family preservation programs and training for volunteers.

The group home, where 14- to 17-year-olds with criminal backgrounds work to get their lives back on track with the help of therapists and supervisors, is where Isaiah has lived for the past few months.

After his father kicked him out of his house, Isaiah, whose last name is not being used to protect his privacy, moved into his grandmother's place before an arrest that he "doesn't want to talk about."

Now, he is doing better in school and looking forward to the possibility of moving back in with his grandmother next summer.

He attributes a lot of his success - and ability to manage his emotions - to the staff at the Prospect Youth Group Home. Though he says it can be tough getting along with the residents, he appreciates the accountability and safety provided by the program.

"It's helped me out to learn coping skills for issues that happen out in the community, to learn how to control myself if I get angry," he said. "Basically, to learn how to control myself better."

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