(Supportive Transition, Education, & Prevention Services)
The STEPS program provides individualized case management and skill building opportunities to at-risk youth throughout Cortland County. The priority population includes youth who have dropped out of high school, are homeless due to lack of family support, and pregnant and/or parenting teens. Program goals include helping each youth become educated, develop employment skills, manage their physical and emotional health, and live in a stable environment.
Services to pregnant and parenting teens focus on prevention of secondary pregnancy and related dependency on the public welfare system. Outreach, person-centered assessment, case management, and advocacy are key elements of this program. Group sessions are held regularly and provide educational and skill-building opportunities focused on development of independent living skills and work readiness. Coordinated and supervised by program staff, these sessions also provide opportunity for social interaction that integrates guidance related to behavior and social norms.
Sara started with the STEPS program in March 2014. She was referred by her school counselor due to high absenteeism at school and pregnancy. Shortly thereafter, she left school because of difficulty getting along with others and feeling like she didn’t fit in.
We spent many hours reaching out to Sara over the next weeks, and eventually she agreed to work with a STEPS case manager. She moved in with her grandparents, and agreed to start getting prenatal services and mental health counseling. Her baby was born in September and is healthy. With her case manager’s encouragement and support from her grandparents, Sara recently completed her high school equivalency program and she plans to attend TC3 next fall. Her STEPS worker is helping her plan for college and access the supports she needs to stay in school. Her plan is to get a job after that, so she can be independent.