The Compass House Resource Center
1451 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14209
Client Services: (716) 884-3066
Administrative Offices: (716) 886-1351
Toll Free: 1-888-646-6634
The Resource Center is located at 1451 Main Street in the City of Buffalo. In the past 13 years, this program has provided comprehensive case-management services to over 3,500 homeless and at-risk youth. Located at the Resource Center are the Counseling and Independent Living-Skills Program and the Business Office.
By modeling effective decision-making, our program helps each youth explore and evaluate the options available and assess the possible outcomes. Throughout the process, youth are encouraged to re-evaluate and modify choices, as necessary. By creating an environment that is non-judgmental and non-authoritarian we reinforce the notion that each of has the opportunity and right to make choices about our own lives. All choices we make have consequences, some positive and others negative. Each of us, however is responsible for the outcome of our own choices. Case direction goals will promote the development of skills and confidence in one's ability to make positive choices.
The underlying goals of the Resource Center program are to assist both male and female homeless youth, 16 through 20 years of age to:
- obtain and maintain safe and stable shelter.
- advocate to help youth access the necessary services and support systems to maintain stable shelter and prevent the decline into chronic homelessness; i.e., transportation, rent and security deposits, utility and rent arrears, etc.
- develop effective decision making and problem solving skills.
- foster a sense of personal responsibility for his or her own actions and encourage decision making that will promote a healthy life style, self-sufficiency and independence.
- the backbone of the Resource Center lies in our provision of advocacy, linkage and referral services. Most of our clients are not system users, and in fact, may have experienced failure and rejection by various systems. In addition, our population is often handicapped by the lack of skills necessary to negotiate large systems or have knowledge of the resources available in the community. Case Managers provide the knowledge and expertise that is necessary to overcome these barriers.
Independent Living Skills Instruction Program
Since 1992, Compass House has worked in collaboration with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (DFY) to provide independent living skills training to youth residing in the community who are without options and need to enter independent living situations. Compass House provides a classroom at the Resource Center and an Independent Living Skills Instructor. The Office of Children and Family Services provided extensive support equipment and training materials. The Resource Center also contracts with the Erie County Department of Social Services to provide independent living skills instruction to youth about to leave foster care with a goal of independent living.
Instruction is provided both individually and in small groups. The ability to communicate effectively is a big part of life skills training. By offering clients the opportunity to meet in topic directed, "semi-formal" groups, an environment is created where the modeling of appropriate social responses is comfortable and natural. As group cohesiveness develops and mutual respect is demonstrated, youth feel more at ease expressing themselves and sharing experiences. This not only reduces the isolation that many of these youth feel because of the lack of adult support in life, but it focuses thought on positive, constructive learning experiences that allow for consensus, as well as diversity of ideas.
While some groups are designed to offer support through the informal sharing of experiences and ideas, other special interest groups like parenting, sexuality, employment readiness, anger management, drug and alcohol prevention, diversity, etc. focus on specific topics determined appropriate by individual case direction goals. Participation in groups provides our clients with a strong foundation of skills to take back into the community.
- Each of our clients demonstrates a variety of developmental strengths and needs. Success is measured by the degree of motivation each youth demonstrates, as he or she works on case direction goals. Even if aspects of the plan fail, staff work closely with the youth to evaluate what didn't work, accept the setback, and explore other options to get back on track. Through this process youth are able to learn to deal effectively with adverse situations, demonstrate personal growth, resiliency and motivation. We accept that most of us learn from our mistakes, rather than through success.
- Clients are provided with transportation to appointments, school, and other case-direction related activity, as needed. Depending on the circumstances and need, transportation may be provided by counselors, or youth may be given tokens for the subway and bus to further develop self-sufficiency.
Independent living skills instruction includes the following topics:
- apartment search & keep skills, i.e. reading want-ads, things to check and questions to ask, accessing furnishing needs, etc.
- landlord/tenant rights and relationships
- budgeting, managing money and planning for your own apartment
- living on your own - pointers and tips to assist establishment of stable living situations.
- nutrition and menu planning, shopping, laundry and housekeeping, personal hygiene, emergency food options (food pantries and soup kitchens)
- pre-employment skills and employment readiness
- basic computer skills and experience