Reliable transportation is expensive and difficult for many of the families involved in Eckerd’s Project Bridge program and that’s why today we are thrilled to announce our program received 35 monthly bus passes totaling $47,250 for the year from the Transportation Disadvantaged Program, a state funded program administered locally by Miami-Dade Transit.
“This grant gives a much needed boast to our youth who depend on bus transportation, not only as a way to get from point A to point B, but getting where you need to go for a better life,” said Claudia Laos Eckerd’s Project Bridge Director. “One of our youth in particular, a young mother, struggled to keep up with her school schedule and travel to her employment. Those worries are now erased with one monthly bus pass ticket for an entire year.”
Eckerd’s Project Bridge helps facilitate the transition for young people who are returning to their home communities after completing time in a Florida Juvenile Justice residential program. Available to boys and girls ages 11-21 in Central and South Florida, Project Bridge provides educational, mentoring, vocational and transportation services to help these youth achieve stable and successful lives and avoid re-entry into the criminal justice system.
Youth who are scheduled to be released from commitment programs will be referred to Eckerd by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Upon screening and referral acceptance, appropriate youth will be assigned to an Eckerd Transitions Coordinator who will work as a liaison to the Juvenile Probation Officer. Youth will receive a series of assessments that Eckerd staff will use to develop an individualized service plan. Youth will then be referred to the appropriate Project Bridge partners as well as other community resources for services tailored to their needs.
Eckerd’s Project Bridge South Region is currently in 6 circuits serving 127 kids, serving Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. The outcomes from the program since it began in 2013 show significant improvement with youth gaining employment and life skills after completing the program. Eighty-five percent do not commit the same crime in the future.