We are working to ensure that youth aging-out of Foster Care have a place to belong in the Chippewa Valley. Donate here.
That's how many youth aging out of foster care will become homeless. These young people are expected to succeed on their own long before their peers.
Sign up for our mailing list and receive updates on our progress! The Smile House is located on the West Side of Eau Claire and will be opening its doors in 2020.
Currently, the Chippewa Valley has little to no accommodations for young people experiencing homelessness or young adults aging out of the foster system. Not surprisingly, the research that exists on outcomes for foster care alumni shows that these youth are at a higher risk for homelessness, unemployment, inadequate health care, incarceration, substance abuse, welfare dependency, unwanted pregnancy, and sexual/physical victimization than their peers.
Preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness requires more than a collection of good programs. It requires a systemic approach that ensures that every young person gets the most effective assistance, and that all of the stakeholders in a community are working toward shared outcomes.
“SMILE” stands for Support System, Mentoring, Independent Living, and Education. The Smile House will be a Transitional Program for teenagers and young adults aging out of foster care. Through the Smile Program, these youth will benefit from opportunities to develop the skills necessary for independent living and from access to support services that can help them navigate the transition to adulthood.
The Smile House will offer or refer for the following services:
• Safe, stable living accommodations.
• Basic life skills building, including consumer education, budgeting, use of credit, housekeeping, car sharing, food preparation and parenting skills - with the goal of all Smile Program participants to be above ALICE income thresholds.
• Educational opportunities, such as GED preparation, post-secondary training and vocational education.
• Job attainment services, such as career counseling and job placement.
• Mental health care, including individual and group counseling.
• Physical health care, such as physicals and health assessments.
• Community atmosphere, including a place to belong during holidays and special occasions.
To the extent possible, the Smile House will maintain fidelity to the guiding principles and standards of the Supervised Independent Living model, the Housing First concept, and the Positive Youth Development Framework.
Visit our information page below to learn about the Smile House, find ways to become invovled, read our FAQ section, and view the body of research behind our project. We welcome your questions and involvement as we bring the Smile House to the Chippewa Valley.