A Soft Landing Spot for Youth Entering Foster Care

Bridge Receiving Center is building a “soft landing spot,” meant to help youth coming into foster care, near Lake Stevens.

A nonprofit in Washington state is moving forward with plans to create a “soft landing spot” for children entering the foster care system.

The Bridge Receiving Center, a Redmond, Wash.-based nonprofit, is building a therapeutic, camp-like facility where children can stay for up to 30 days before they are placed with a family in the state’s foster care system.

The nonprofit is currently working to renovate a house near Lake Stevens, Wash., that will host six boys as part of a pilot program. The children and the center will be surrounded by supports and services, including staff trained in trauma-informed care. Children will receive tutoring and mental health support, such as counseling and help with learning coping strategies.

The hope is that the experience will help ease the already-traumatic experience of entering into the child welfare system. The Bridge Receiving Center will serve as a “supportive, welcoming environment” that will help children feel safe after they are removed from home.

“We train social workers. We train foster parents. We train everybody in this process except the kids,” said Kathleen Hamer, co-founder of the Bridge Receiving Center, in a feature article about the center published by the Daily Herald.

The idea echoes one of the many policy proposals made since 2008 by participants in the Foster Youth Internship Program, an annual Washington, D.C. internship for youth and young adults who have experienced the child welfare system. In 2014, Kellie Henderson proposed the development and use of a “comfort and inform” curriculum that would help prepare youths for time spent in foster care.

In her proposal, Henderson described her own experience with removal from her family:

From when I was rescued to when I actually entered foster care, I felt lost and confused and concerned for my siblings who were also removed from our home. The night of my rescue, adults I had never met before asked me to explain in exhausting detail the abuse I had endured. After midnight, I was taken to a state-run children’s home.

Bridge Receiving Center is currently leasing and renovating a three-bedroom house from Cedar Springs Camp, a church-supported nonprofit that hosts children at a camp close to nearby Lake Stevens. Children housed at the Bridge Receiving Center will also be able to use the recreational facilities there.

The nonprofit is partnering with faith communities in Washington, the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families and Olive Crest, a foster family agency.

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