Today, Derek lives in his own apartment through TLP’s independent living program. He is studying to become an information technology professional. He spends time with his young son and is proud to have found the stability he had been searching for. Derek is finally home.
Derek was born to a teen mom who was not equipped to care for a third baby. As a toddler, he was placed in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. For seven long years, he bounced between foster homes, enduring abuse at the hands of strangers and longing for a family of his own. After reuniting briefly with his stepfather, Derek became homeless at age 14 and lost all hope for a better life.
Derek credits his referral to Teen Living Programs as the start of his transformation: “a place I call my first home.” He connected with the outreach team and eventually moved into Belfort House. He worked side by side with his Youth Development Specialist to identify goals, learn how to live independently, and earn his GED. At TLP, Derek’s vision for his own life was nurtured and encouraged, and with that support, he is becoming the man and father he always wanted to be.