Northstar Learning Center

Youth and Family Support

Our Approach

Many New Bedford area youth, especially those living in poverty, face an uphill struggle toward becoming healthy, educated, responsible, self-sustaining adults. In our work with youth, our job is to awaken a sense of possibility and opportunity and help them take action steps toward achieving the new personal, educational, and vocational goals they have set for themselves.

Our programs are grounded in positive youth development theory of change and social theory of youth empowerment. We draw from multiple evidence-supported youth-serving models, including standards for effective afterschool and youth mentoring programs.

We meet youth and families “where they’re at.” Where youth violence and other high-risk behaviors are often linked with lack of hope for a better life, we provide activities that widen experience and cultivate a sense of possibility and opportunity. We recognize that facilitating a youth’s growth often entails overcoming their mistrust from adverse contact with systems. Further, some youth require more intensive, long-term support as they overcome mental health problems, past trauma, and educational and life skill deficits. Built into our programs are different levels and kinds of support, including “24/7” availability; after-hours intercession in a family conflict has often staved off out-of-home placements that would remove youth from their biological, adoptive, or foster homes, schools, and community. A key principle of wraparound is that it is unconditional; if interventions are not achieving the desired outcomes, we regroup with the youth and family to try another strategy.

diagram

Supervised Family Visitation

Provides a safe, neutral, supervised, child-oriented setting where parents with children in foster care or who are involved in an active visitation dispute can visit with and strengthen their relationships with their children. Professional staff promote children’s sense of safety, security, and hope and, at the same time, acknowledge and affirm parents’ desires to strengthen ties with their children. 

Committed to high quality and innovation, NorthStar is a member of the international Supervised Visitation Network (SVN), which has developed Standards of Practice and Best Practice Guidelines that we subscribe to.

 

Family Actualization, Support, and Empowerment (FASE)

The FASE program is youth-centered, family-focused, and strength-based – we look at the whole youth, in the context of the family and the family within the framework of the community assets. FASE works to enhance the existing strengths of the family and help them find resources by encouraging connections to the community through spirituality, civic interest, activism, continued education and others.  We hope that families follow our lead and instruction for self-advocacy, resource identification and proactive decision making.

Based on the 10 principles of the wraparound approach, FASE provides mentoring, advocacy, and individualized support that meet youth and families “where they are at” to:

  • Keep families together, where youth in intact families are at risk of out-of-home placement;
  • Stabilize foster placements of youth removed from their home due to abuse, neglect, or dangerous conditions and, where possible, return them to their family;
  • Connect families with community resources;
  • Increase youth involvement and success in school.
support

Kinship Care/Reunification Support Program

NorthStar Learning Centers works closely with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to identify, engage, and support kinship caregivers and facilitate, where appropriate, early reunification that leads to long-term stability.   

Our program offers three components based on family needs and service goals: 

  • Rapid Placement of Children with Kin;
  • Intensive Kinship Caregiver/Family Support, including helping kinship caregivers meet basic needs;
  • Rapid Reunification or permanency placement support, providing parenting education and support to the “forever home” identified for the child, including helping birth parents prepare for their child’s return home;
  • Parent Support, assisting in strengthening the parent-child relationship by improving knowledge of child development and parenting skills, reducing family stress, and meeting needs of parents.

This program is grounded in wraparound, an approach that involves families in developing individualized service plans that engage “natural” supports within the community. Member of the National Wraparound Initiative since 2011.

10 Principles of the Wraparound Process

family voice

Youth/Family Voice and Choice

team based

Team-Based Approach

support

Identify Natural Resourses

collaboration

Collaboration

community

Community-Based Approach

Culturally Responsive

Individualized Approach

strength

Strengths-Based Approach

persistence

Persistence and Consistance

outcome

Outcome-Based

wraparound initiatve

Parents and volunteers are welcomed to come share their gifts and talents with us.