Each night in Seattle, 700–1,000 young people have no safe place to sleep. That’s thousands of homeless youth every year — stuck in survival mode.
Most were traumatized before they reached our streets. Each day they spend on them will take its toll. It isn’t difficult to understand why so many chronically homeless adults report having been homeless as youth.
At YouthCare, we serve children young as 12 and young adults all of 24. On the streets, rather than having a childhood, the younger ones are already enduring greater fear than anyone should ever have to. At ages for finding mentors and role models, the young adults are learning to trust no one. All of them should be imagining and building a future. Instead, they’re occupied with getting to tomorrow.
We know how to help that kid in the doorway become a kid in school, an adult on the job, an independent and stable citizen. It takes a “continuum of care”: a coordinated set of individually appropriate services.
Unfortunately, our resources are limited. In the face of an alarming rise in demand, we are able to put together a true continuum of care for only a fraction of the youth that walk through our doors.
We do stand out in this community, however, and in the nation, for the scope of services we can offer. From specialized counseling to formal and informal coaching in life skills, from GED and high school classes to employment training, the continuum of care is the surest way to get homeless youth off the streets and preparing for life.