Fostering Better Lives: Part One

By KBJR News 1

April 27, 2011 Updated Apr 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Most of us learned to set a table and share a meal when we were kids. But, for some kids there's never been a table, a shared meal or a family.

Many of these kids learned only how to survive in a tough world and many of them got into trouble along the way. To foster a path to a better life sometimes the basic skills need to be taught.

Dinner time inside one Duluth home doesn't only mean cooking and setting the table. For several young men, it's a skill building opportunity.

"They don't know how to get a job, apartment, checking account, cooking, cleaning. They don't know a lot of these skills they should know by the time they are this age," said Ron Stotts, a house manager for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Homes or PATH inc.

Stotts and Jerome Strother are house managers working with troubled youth in their late teens.

"The biggest challenge is getting the guys to come in and have confidence in themselves and accomplish the things they need to get done," said Strother.

Both men have worked with youth for 30 years and currently work at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center.

Working with PATH inc., they help point the young men toward independence.

"We're trying to foster these guys to disconnect with the things that got them into trouble and the things they failed at," said Strother. "Now, they're connecting with the things that will make them more productive."

From a few months up to an entire year, the young men will learn independent living skills and how to be successful in their community. The residents in this foster home have had drug or alcohol problems, violent behavior or mental health disorders. The House managers are quick to say they aren't going to hold hands.

"That's all we ask of these guys that they make a commitment to themselves not to us to anyone else but to themselves, Stotts said. "We don't want to play games with them. We're not their mommy, we're not their daddy"

Both Stotts and Strother say the real work isn't just about educating, but making sure the young men apply what they learn to their daily routines.

The Foster Home's doors have been open for three years now. The managers say 99% of their residents go on to successfully live on their own.

Wednesday night (4/27) at ten, we'll meet an award winning foster family from Barnum.

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen
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