The Bridge was founded in 1969 to meet the needs of West Hartford community youth who were engaged in high-risk behavior, especially substance abuse, and who were getting into trouble with the law. Over the next few years, the Bridge expanded its outreach efforts, opened a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, and began to work directly with schools.
Today the Bridge is a comprehensive, regio...nal nonprofit agency offering a broad range of services to children, youth, and families in the Greater Hartford area, with particular attention to serving those at risk.
The Mission of the Bridge is to foster the courage and strength in children and families to meet life's challenges and build fulfilling lives.
The Bridge has four program areas that support its mission:
1) Family Resource Centers - parent education, family counseling, reading readiness programs, after-school learning and enrichment activities, and early childhood intervention programs at four West Hartford elementary schools.
2) Youth and Family Services - counseling, support groups, the Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children, Bridge East Counseling Center, positive youth development, school-based programs, parenting services, mentoring, licensed summer youth camp, and the West Hartford Teen Center.
3) Residential Services - youth shelters/Short-Term Assessment and Respite (STAR) homes in West Hartford, Southington, Wolcott, and Harwinton; Eleanor House, a therapeutic group home for boys in Hartford; and transitional living programs for older teens: the Moving On Project and the Independent Living Program (Community Based Life Skills, Community Housing Assistance, and Youth in Transition).
4) Community Services - Tune-In to Life Week, substance abuse prevention activities, and the Every Family newsletter; events: Breakfast on the Bridge and the Children's Charity Ball; and annual community recognitions: the Build No Fences Award and the Bridge Business Award.
With an annual budget of $8.2 million, the Bridge Family Center served approximately 7,100 young people and families last year. Bridge Family Center services are funded by the State of Connecticut Departments of Children and Families (DCF) and Education; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Town of West Hartford; and private donations from individuals, foundations, corporations and organizations. The Bridge is governed by a Board of Directors composed of 15 individuals from West Hartford and the Greater Hartford community. About 200 staff members carry out the programs and services of the Bridge, assisted by more than 175 volunteers.