StopGap Inc. is our founder Justine Burton’s dream brought to reality. After a traumatic childhood spent struggling with abuse, neglect, and homelessness, Ms. Burton understands the reality of trying to live a healthy, successful life when aging out of “the system”. Determined to give a voice and hope to youth who have had similar experiences, in 2008 Ms. Burton founded StopGap Inc. as a grassroots initiative committed to supporting youth aging out of foster care and helping them develop the skills necessary to thrive.
Foster youth may have experiences that run the gamut from physical and sexual abuse, neglect, forced prostitution and criminal activity to learning disabilities and delays, difficulty with socialization, academic difficulty, and lack of basic life skills. These experiences can lead to combative behavior, withdrawal, self-harming behavior, substance use, and life-long consequences. Recognizing that youth in foster care face a host of barriers to success, Ms. Burton developed a life skills curriculum that gives youth hands-on experience and real knowledge in a challenging, supportive environment.
Topics covered in the StopGap Inc. curriculum include nutrition, housing, budgeting, financial planning, employment preparation, sexual and physical education (in collaboration with the Douglas County Health Department), mental health issues and strategies (in collaboration with a licensed therapist), SAFE Prevention and Anti-Sex Trafficking (The Willow Domestic Violence Center), GED/high school education, vocational training information, and higher education information.
Our organization aims to close the gap in skills acquisition between adolescence and adulthood to help prepare at-risk youth for successful futures. We aim to combat the risk of homelessness and exploitation these youth face as they exit the system.