Across the nation, there is a rising population of homeless youth. Whether leaving home because of abuse and neglect or thrown out by their parents, there are thousands of teens without a safe place to call home.
Here in York County, the problem is no different. At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, it was estimated that Rock Hill School District had close to 100 homeless teens enrolled.These teens are disconnected or disqualified from the most basic resources for food and shelter. They have no guidance, no safety net, and no consistent support.
These teens have been left to figure it out on their own. Until now.
In February 2017, the Home opened its doors to serve up to five youth from the community who have been identified as homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
We are committed to standing in the gap and providing these teens with home, hope and a future. This program allows us to walk alongside them in their journey and give them an avenue to live a successful, independent life. All youth who live at the Home will receive:
- Safe and stable housing, clothing and meals
- Developmental and supportive services
- Medical, dental, and vision care and mental health services as necessary
- Social and independent living skill assessments
- Educational assessment and academic support
- Weekly life skills and support groups
Youth in the Homeless Teen program have the opportunity to stay at the Children’s Attention Home for up to a maximum of two years. During this time, these residents will work to achieve their personal goals, identify community resources and establish connections, and begin their path to independence.
To be considered for this program, youth must participate in an interview with the Home’s intake and assessment team, agree to all program rules and guidelines, and meet all eligibility requirements:
- Ages 16-19
- Current reside in Chester, Lancaster, York, Mecklenburg or surrounding counties
- No criminal record or previous involvement with Department of Juvenile Justice
Why are these teens homeless?
These youth have fallen through the gaps in social services, a system overwhelmed with the pressing needs of younger children and insufficient funding. Some youth have opted to avoid entering a system they feel will limit their opportunities and does not share their best interest. These disconnected teens share the risk of not having adequate shelter and other basic needs, and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. This population also includes “thrownaway” youth who are asked to leave their homes, and may include other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health or other issues. (Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics and Programs, Congressional Research Service, 2013)
There are many reasons that youth become homeless, the top reasons being:
- Asked to leave by a parent or caregiver
- Unable to find a job
- Physical abuse
- Problems in the home due to a caretaker’s drug or alcohol abuse
In a study done by University of Nebraska-Lincoln, they found that only 29.5% of youth surveyed said they had the option to return home, and on average they had been homeless for nearly 2 years in total. From sleeping on park benches and in bus stations to paying for a motel with what little resources they have, these youth face significant risks including drug use, sexual exploitation, and untreated mental health disorders.