Stepping Stone House’s Independent Living Program (ILP) was established on the 28th April 2006 by Carmelle Tebbit due to Stepping Stone House’s staff and committee recognition of the shortage of exit options for young people exiting from Stepping Stone. The Committee and staff also recognised that a young person exiting Stepping Stone House could find the experience somewhat difficult and traumatic as they are still young and have established a place of belonging and safety with the “home like environment” created by Stepping Stone House. In addition while living independently may seem like a “dream come true”, at such a young and tender age, it can also be fearful and scary for a young person, hence the creation of the Independent Living Program.
This unit is based on the same premises with a separate identity and entrance. This unit is about providing young people with an opportunity to live independently and to self manage themselves, whilst still allowing for both formal and informal support from Stepping Stone House staff, due to its close proximity to the main house.
Young people between the ages of 17 and 22 years of age can apply to live at Stepping Stone House, and young people from Stepping Stone House medium to long term service can apply to live within the ILP unit from the age of 17 years of age. It would be fair to highlight that obviously this unit was designed in particular for efficiency purposes and exit options for the young people within the medium to long term service due to the the already established relationship, established trust and to ensure that the continuum of care does not get broken.
The ILP unit is run very differently from the medium to long term service. Young people are provided with the adequate space and respect to live without the constant, seven days a week monitoring and supervision. They are provided with a safe environment to implement all their new found learning such as budgeting, self care, self hygiene, attendance at school / employment and to feel proud of such achievements. Within this frame work, due to the proximity to the medium to long term service, staff of Stepping Stone House provides informal supervision and support to ILP residents and this create a forum of prevention in the case of peer pressure, identification of supports possibly required, and lapse.
Stepping Stone House recognises that although, informal supervision and support is great, the reasons for creating an ILP unit was to provide young people with more concrete support and supervision, so to supplement the information supervision and support, the manager of Stepping Stone House has in place more formal support and supervision mechanisms. This done through a weekly Monday evening meeting between the manager of Stepping Stone House and the residents of ILP unit. The purpose of this meeting it to:
· Ensure that house chores are completed on time and thoroughly (the manager inspects the chores completed and provides assistance in if necessary)
· Provide an open forum to discuss any supports required, any shared living issues and problem solve same.
In addition to this, the manager of Stepping Stone House is aware of each young person’s requirements such as school attendance and appointments and so forth and supports the young people, where possible, with same, such as meeting attendance, advocacy and transport.
We are also very aware that young people living independently still enjoy “fun” and “getting together”, therefore ILP residents are invited to:
* the medium to long term service for dinner at least twice every week
* at least two in house activities that staff of the medium to long term service organises,
* participate in activities such as Ski trip, water sports, school holidays events and so forth, which has always seen active and regular participation from ILP residents
This allows for:
* continued connections between a young person and the staff of Stepping Stone House
* peer support between young people from the ILP unit and the medium to long term unit
* role modelling between the older and younger young people.
It also allows the young people of the ILP unit to continue to feel valued and important in Stepping Stone House’s eyes and allows them to continue to feel their sense of belonging which is known to have positive impacts upon their self esteem, self worth and self confidence.