At-Risk Youth

Providing security and stability during the transition to adulthood

How We Help At-Risk Youth

In order for children to learn and develop in a healthy way, they need to feel safe and supported. Our out-of-home residential programs in Northern New Jersey provide the necessary guidance for youth who are preparing to age out of foster care and into independent adulthood. In addition to being homeless, some of our clients may also experience emotional, behavioral and/or psychological difficulties. This program has passed rigorous standards set by the internationally renowned organization, the Council on Accreditation, enabling our clients to thrive in a stable environment.

In New Jersey we provide:

Transitional Shelters

Our shelters offer emergency housing for youth ages 11-17. The duration of each child’s stay can last up to 30 days, during which time our staff work to find more permanent, stable living situations and collaborate with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to ensure that each child transitions into an environment that meets his or her needs.

Group Homes

Our group home, located in the historic section of Plainfield, New Jersey, provides a supportive environment for males ages 13-19. The program is staffed 24/7 with youth care counselors who offer residents an opportunity to gain life skills that encourage independence while working on behavioral goals. These staff members provide consistent care and supervision, playing a crucial role in the lives of these young men. There is also a clinical specialist on staff who provides individual and group counseling for the residents.

Some of the services offered include:

  • Comprehensive assessment and treatment planning
  • Activities of daily living assistance
  • Life skills development
  • Trauma informed services
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Recreation
  • Behavior modifications
  • Connections to community supports and family

Independent Living Programs and Supportive Housing

When young people age out of foster care, their options are limited. Our four independent living programs in New Jersey provide the stepping stones to adulthood that at-risk youth need to thrive rather than merely survive. Residents range in age from 18-21 years old, and live in supervised apartments with a roommate. Our staff is there to support them as well as actively teach skills that they will need to live independently.

Step-Up is a supportive housing program that is also geared toward 18-20-year-olds, who have aged out of the foster system and are at risk of being homeless. Each resident works with a case manager to learn independent living skills and has access to a range of resources until their 21st birthday.

How We Help Families

Parenting Skills Partnership Program

This 16-week program provides support and training to families who foster or adopt children. Because this transition can be difficult for everyone involved, we equip parents with specific skills and techniques to deal with a multitude of behavioral problems. This training is available in-home and is offered in Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren counties.

Parent Empowerment and Childrearing Education (PEACE)

The goal of the PEACE program is to encourage positive parenting practices, prevent child maltreatment occurrence or recurrence, and increase safety and well-being at home. In-home visits are available in Passaic County and are conducted by bilingual clinicians with the goal of keeping families together.

For more information on either of these programs, call (732) 827-2443.

"So many kids end up lost in the foster care system. I honestly think that if I had spent one more day without Volunteers of America, I would be in jail." - Sasha, a former Independent Living Program resident

Watch this video about Max, a former resident of Alpha House:



Our At-Risk Youth Programs are certified by the Council on Accreditation