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Southington non-profit looks to expand life skills program for youth 

Southington non-profit looks to expand life skills program for youth 

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON – A nonprofit headquartered in Southington hopes to expand its life skills program from teens in foster care to include community youth who also need coaching on basic skills.

LISA Inc. provides residential programs to youth referred from the state Department of Children and Families. The group teaches budgeting, job etiquette and other life skills to youths in its programs.

On Thursday, the group announced the creation of a life skills academy, a consolidation of all its life skills programs, and said it’s hoping to raise money to offer it to youths from Southington and surrounding towns and cities.

Kim Selvaggi, LISA Inc. executive director, detailed the program and all the life skills it teaches youths. While that type of instruction isn’t present with many children who are in the DCF system, it can also be lacking in other families. She suggested teachers, parents, social workers and others could refer teens 14 and older who need coaching on coping with stress, how to find housing and doing laundry.

“How many of you can think of a young person who isn’t getting this at home?” she asked attendees at a gathering Thursday at the group’s offices.

“We want to make this a staple of the community,” Selvaggi said.

The group’s work is funded through DCF.

“That means no one outside can get access and to us that doesn’t seem fair,” Selvaggi said.

The 50 sessions of the life skills academy cost $2,800 per teen. LISA Inc. officials said they’re trying to find ways to fund the cost through donors or parents.

Elizabeth Hyatt, associate development director of LISA Inc., suggested people and groups could donate, sponsor and volunteer to help youths.

“People in Southington and surrounding communities are very generous,” she said.

Bob Brown, a Board of Education member and former high school teacher, attended Thursday’s meeting. He was impressed with the program but was concerned about funding.

“It’s tough to find money,” he said. “I agree with everything they said, kids today have more issues than they’ve ever had for a variety of reasons.”

Some of what’s taught in LISA Inc.’s life skills academy is taught in Southington schools but aspects of it would likely only apply to special education students. Brown wasn’t sure if the school district would refer children to the academy since the trend in recent years has been to bring services back into the district.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ