The Passage Program: Dezlyn's Story
For a young person aging out of the foster system and facing life on their own, the future can be daunting. Recognizing this and seeing an increase in the number of young adults (18-24) entering the emergency shelter, The Salvation Army in Lubbock established the Passage program.
Dezlyn was placed in CPS care when she was 14 years old along with her two younger brothers. “Growing up, I didn’t have a relationship with my mother. I honestly don’t think she was mentally prepared to have children,” said Dezlyn, who was later placed with family members in Lubbock while her brothers moved to Dallas. “That was the first time we had ever been separated and was one of the hardest years of my life. My brothers were everything to me. I worried about them all the time.”
Eventually, Dezlyn didn’t want to go to school, and her grades were falling fast. That’s when she asked her caseworker if she could be placed elsewhere.
“When I got to the Passage program at The Salvation Army, I was pretty shocked. I thought it was only a place for homeless people,” said Dezlyn. “The staff members have worked really hard to make sure I have everything I need. I’ve got my own apartment, have great support here and am attending college.”
Passage is case management-based and program participants reside within a supervised independent living environment. Program length varies by client, and the average residential stay is five to seven months. During that time, caseworkers work with the young people to help them complete high school or obtain a GED, enroll in college, and search for and obtain gainful employment. They also encourage participants to establish healthy relationships, create and build a personal budget and savings plan, and eventually assist them in securing long-term housing as they prepare to complete the program.
“Going to school is my priority right now, and I want to make a life for myself. I’m going to study social work and hopefully become a caseworker,” said Dezlyn. “If I hadn’t found The Salvation Army and the Passage program, I probably would’ve dropped out of school. Thanks to The Salvation Army and the people willing to help, it has really changed my life.”