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On your own at 18

March 15, 2013

Sam Frasher signed the lease on her first apartment when she was just 16.

“It was scary and overwhelming,” Sam said. “I had never been alone. I’ve always been in and out of placements where there were a lot of people around.”

A high school senior, Sam lives on her own with support from LSI’s supervised apartment living program in Waverly. Funded through the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), the program helps teens who would otherwise be in shelter, foster care or a tough home situation.

For Sam, it was a string of family problems that led her away from home.

“I had been in and out of shelters since I was 13,” she said. “It didn’t go so well when I moved back home, and so that’s when I came to Bremwood.”

LSI’s Bremwood Residential Treatment Center provides 24-7 mental health services to help teens build skills to be successful after abuse, neglect or other family issues. Bremwood’s Exodus program helped Sam start building independent living skills such as cooking, job hunting and budgeting.

Waverly eventually started to feel like home.

“I had a job. I was playing softball. I had a lot of friends at school, and I wanted to stay in Waverly,” she said. “The only way to do that was to enter independent living.”

LSI’s supervised apartment living program helped her make the transition, and at age 16, Sam found herself apartment-hunting.

“Supervised apartment living is for youth who may have a home, but it’s not their best option,” said Ashley Jass, LSI caseworker. “This program allows them to live on their own with support before actually being on their own.”

Even with the help, it’s not easy. Today is Sam’s eighteenth birthday. She spends her time juggling school, a waitressing job, college scholarship applications and certified nursing assistant classes.

“When people first hear that I live on my own, they don’t understand,” she said. “They don’t believe it. Then they think that I must get a lot of help. While I do get help, they assume it’s easy, but it’s not. Sometimes at the end of the month there isn’t a lot left for toilet paper or basic needs.”

Ashley monitors Sam’s academics and employment and answers questions about banking, budgeting, college applications or other issues.

“Ashley’s awesome,” Sam said. “I love her. She’s always there if I need someone to talk to.”

“Sam is such a great kid,” said Ashley. “She knows how to advocate for herself. She’s very self-sufficient. She has a ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ kind of attitude. She could have given up when things got hard, but she bounces back. It’s very cool to see her grow and come full circle. She’s becoming her own person.”

Sam plans to attend the liberal arts program at Hawkeye Community College in the fall.

Learn more about residential treatment programs.

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