SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – For foster kids around Missouri, the next step after leaving a group home can be intimidating, but one organization is making that transition more smooth.
The Darr Foundations “footsteps” group home in Springfield houses 20 boys ages 16 to 18.
Now, after they leave footsteps, they’ll move into their own place somewhere, but the program has built their own apartment for their boys, and the first tenant is ready to move in.
“He doesn’t have to mess with 19 other guys in the house fighting for the remote control,” Program Director Alissa Jecklin said.
As one door closes, another is opening for Boen, an 18-year-old who is going to be the first to move from Footsteps to the Leonard House.
Jecklin says having an option for their boys just a few footsteps away makes becoming an adult easier.
“Having apartments so close to the group home was an idea that we had for quite a while as an option for kids that maybe need something in between the group home setting and out completely on your own in the community,” Jecklin said.
“I’ve never done this before, so living on my own it’s…a little scary,” Boen said. “But at the same time, it’s kind of exhilarating.”
The goal for young men like Boen is to help get them ready for all the responsibilities they’ll have as an adult.
While the program will cover his housing, Boen is still expected to make a rent payment every month.
“That rent goes into a savings account, and once we age out of the program, we get all that money back,” Boen said. “So hopefully that will be enough to put a down payment on a house.”
Boen has a job lined up and is considering going to a trade school over a college, perhaps in welding for computer science.
“I just hope he continues to just grow and become the man that he’s going to be because I think it’s going to be awesome,” Jecklin said.
The open house for the public to tour the facility is set for this coming Wednesday.