Children of HaShem’s House (COHH), The Social Service Arm of HaShem’s House
Project 1: The Alex Fernandez House
The Alex Fernandez House will be the first project to be undertaken by COHH. It is projected to assist foster care alumni students in continuing their education after high school under a program of family-like support.
This is a support program for children and young adults who are in, or have graduated from, foster home programs. The design is to provide academic as well as life-skills support for foster kids of all ages. The primary focus is on aged-out foster children of 18-25 years old who are pursuing a college education. The initial stage would be limited in scope to a pilot program for young men and women leaving their foster home after graduating high school and who are entering Austin Community College.
Future phases of the program will progressively include younger groups, as participants at each level would serve as mentors for kids at lower levels. A parallel program for older college students will also be developed.
The physical logistics of the program would be to provide room and board in a dormitory setting as well as additional rooms for on-site development in various Life Skills areas. Transportation, laundry and other necessary services would be provided. The facility would also include library, computer and study areas along with outdoor recreational areas, including yard and garden, shop areas, access to public transportation, hike/bike trails and other outdoor resources.
On-site staff would coordinate and supervise group participation in all required self-support activities such as meal preparation, housekeeping and maintenance.
To facilitate travel and study support, activities (including ACC classes) would be scheduled in groups. Self-development and Life Skill classes would be held in on-site classrooms and our outdoor areas, scheduled around ACC class schedules.
Each participant would have individual responsibilities for meal prep, kitchen duty, house chores, yard work, and academic and development program assignments. Additionally, each participant would have required off-site/on-site programs, such as tutoring and mentoring younger children, involvement in community work, or volunteer-like jobs that would provide for some small modicum of spending money.
On-site staff and outside consultants would provide tutoring and individual counseling, as well as training and coaching in such subjects as:
- Study Skills
- Physical Exercise
- Personal Hygiene
- Workplace Skills
- Encounter Groups
- Success Dressing
- Logic/Game Theory
- Money Management
- Auto Repair
- Music /Art
- Coping/Life Skills
Each participant would meet weekly with an individual coach/mentor. They would also keep a daily journal and participate actively in various group activities such as morning yoga/meditation groups, group meals, group sports and group discussions.
The addition of these supplemental studies to a busy academic schedule at ACC would require a strong motivation and most likely an extension of the usual time required to complete a four-semester college program. Eventually, as the program matures, much of these extra studies could be conveyed in after-school, summer and holiday programs for non-resident participants.
This program will be supported through grant writing, fund-raising and partnering with community, local, state and federal social and service organizations.