A Childhood Lost, A Life Regained | Uplift Family Services

Outstanding Transitional Housing Services Clear a Path from Trauma to Thriving in Community

For many, childhood is a time of carefree play. It’s a time of discovery and experimentation, of freedom before the realities of work and adulthood set in. But that is not the case for every child in the United States. For some, like Sofia*, it was a time marked by looming threats and immediate danger.

At eight years old, Sofia was shuttled into the foster care system to escape a violent atmosphere at home. For the moment, Sofia was physically safe. But life in the foster care system created new problems and allowed them to fester. She was now safe and had a roof over her head, but she had no consistent support network and no constant home base to center her. This left her feeling unwanted and unmoored. By the time she was an adolescent, Sofia had fallen in with a rough crowd. Soon, the less-than-ideal environment of the foster care system was replaced with an even less forgiving one: juvenile hall.

The lives of innumerable young men and women follow a similar trajectory onto an even worse path. But Sofia was fortunate. While in detention, she was accepted into Uplift Family Services’ Transitional Housing Program. Through this initiative, Uplift Family Services helps get young people back on their feet and enables them to become strong, self-sufficient community members. The young men and women who work with Uplift Family Services learn tactics to cope with their immediate situations so that they might live independently. They also develop long-term strategies that allow them to thrive and reach their full potential in school, at work, and at home. The program connects these individuals with the public and private resources they need, all while supporting them with a dedicated team of specialists to help them learn the skills they will need to excel.

Sofia is far from alone. Poverty and the traumas it breeds can create a snowball effect, making the steps needed to overcome it especially difficult.

Each year, Uplift Family Services assists more than 33,000 children and their family members to identify and execute the steps they need to recover, reorient themselves, and grow.

As one of the largest nonprofit behavioral health providers in the state of California, the agency plays an outsized role in helping young people heal from various kinds of trauma–ranging from addiction, to abuse, to severe neglect. Uplift Family Services accomplishes this through a sophisticated approach that includes mental health services, behavioral analysis (including for those with developmental disabilities), and countless other avenues of support. It adds up to the most comprehensive clinical service structure of its kind.

In a time of rising levels of depression and anxiety among young people, and of nearly unprecedented economic uncertainty, Uplift Family Services is able to offer not only support and care, but the space for healing necessary to find a better path forward through its carefully studied, family-centered approach. Uplift Family Services provides young people with the rapid response they need in a moment of crisis, as well as the long-term support to become healthy members of their communities. With in-school services, Outpatient Mental Health Services, and the Transitional Housing Program that helped Sofia, the organization continues to innovate solutions to the most perilous problems facing young people and their communities today.

Part of what makes Uplift Family Services so successful is that it treats each young person as an individual. It rejects the one-size-fits-all approach that plagues so many mental health organizations.

Rylle Jones, a Clinical Program Manager with the Transitional Housing program, notes that Sofia already possessed certain qualities that would allow her to succeed––qualities that the program would help her unlock, develop, and use to her advantage. “She’s resilient,” Jones says. “She’s gone through so much and wanted something better for her life. She had an internal ability to reset and try again.” Uplift Family Services does not attempt to make each of the young people it works with conform to an imagined ideal. It helps them become the best versions of themselves.

The work Uplift Family Services does has become integral to the communities it serves, and has been widely recognized as such. Cindy Chavez, a Santa Clara County Supervisor, describes the organization as indispensable to her constituents. The organization “literally changed the direction of support for children in our state,” Supervisor Chavez says.

Cindy Chavez (pictured center), Supervisor, Santa Clara County

“Being able to develop responses for youth that really allow us to get children, when appropriate, back with their families, and to get children stabilized, is crucial.”

Chavez goes on to emphasize that Uplift Family Services is a leader when it comes to organizations that aim to provide comprehensive services that help children recover from trauma and maximize their potential. In fact, she takes it a step further. “I would trust [Uplift Family Services] with my own family,” she says. “They are dedicated and committed to the success of children and their families. You can see it in the way they bring initiatives forward, in the way they develop programming that is child- and family-centric. And that is so powerful.”

What is perhaps most rewarding about the Transitional Housing Program, and about Uplift Family Services as a whole, is that it does not aim to remove young men and women from their communities or cut them off from the world they know –– it allows them to be beacons of stability in the places they grew up, if they so choose. In that way, Sofia serves as a case study for how Uplift Family Services can help young people rise from dire circumstances, and how those young people can now be part of a cycle of growth and regeneration for their communities. Through Uplift Family Services, she has received not only the material assistance she needs, but has also developed the skills—ranging from budgeting skills to assembling a bookcase and setting boundaries with roommates—to successfully live independently in any environment.

Sofia has continued to thrive in this program. She is currently attending community college and working at a nonprofit agency that helps teens understand how to better their lives through restorative justice. She recently moved back into her community. Asked about her experience in our program, she says it has been a true blessing.

*Name and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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