Collin, now age 18, voluntarily went into the custody of the State of Vermont Department of Children and Families in order to seek treatment at the age of 16. Initially in custody and in a supported environment, Collin did great. He was excelling academically and was doing spectacular work in his treatment. However, Collin relapsed and was sent to yet another facility. In a very short time frame Collin cycled through three different institutions. He then ran away from his treatment center. His outlook for change was looking grim.
Collin realized that he was not going to move forward until he turned himself in. After returning to state custody, Collin was approved for the Stetson School in Massachusetts. Almost immediately, he began to excel academically. Only two weeks into the program he started working in group treatment, something he states usually takes much longer for him to engage in. Collin realized that he had the ability to achieve things that others at the school found difficult and took the initiative to become a leader in his groups and with other youth. As such, Collin was able to graduate from the program and from high school in less time than many youth who attend Stetson. Collin was able to graduate from high school almost a semester early! Although an amazing achievement, it came with a different set of challenges and concerns such as where was he going to live and who could help him continue to be successful.
Enter Eckerd Kids’ Youth Development Program and Franki Cummings, Eckerd’s YDP coordinator for teenagers who are aging out of foster care into independent living. Franki came to Stetson School and spoke to Collin about his choices in transitioning into adulthood. One choice was to attend college now or to live independently in an apartment. Another choice was to live with a an approved foster family experienced with working with older teenagers. Collin knew that this choice might come with more restrictions and expectations than the others he was given. However, he felt it was the best one for him. In the short time that he has lived with this placement he has built a great relationship with the family. The family has invited him to stay with them past the time he has contracted for. The family has reported that Collin is a delight to have around and that he is extremely helpful. Collin is diligently following his plan to find work and plans on attending college in the fall. Collin reports that Eckerd Kids has provided him the opportunity to continue to be successful with guidance and weekly support that he may not have otherwise received. Franki and Collin have worked hard on his interviewing skills, how to impress a potential employer and how to have a good work ethic. Collin reports that he is most grateful to have been placed with such a supportive family and looks forward to continuing work with Eckerd Kids to achieve his best possible outcome.