By Leslie Scott, LSW
Learn more about the issues facing the young people we serve.
By Leslie Scott, LSW
Each year, Huck House is invited by See Kids Dream to help teach young students about how they can make the world a better place. Guess what happens. Yep! These young students go out and make the world a better place! This year, the students at Ohio Avenue Elementary School, with help from their advisers from Crimson Cup Coffee, created this awesome video to spread awareness about Huck House.
Ohio Avenue Elementary School was featured on the news (click here to watch) for the help they are giving to Huck House. On an equally inspirational, and more serious, note, their school was the topic of an article in The Atlantic last month: “One Ohio School’s Quest to Rethink Bad Behavior.”
Thank you to the See Kids Dream Club at Ohio Avenue Elementary School for making the world a better place.
On May 17, in Washington, DC, the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee held a hearing about homlessness. Columbus was well represented at the hearing by Ann Bischoff, CEO of Star House. At the invitation of Congressman Steve Stivers, Huckleberry House executive director Becky Westerfelt submitted a letter of testimony to the hearing. The text of Becky’s letter follows. It focuses on one part of H.R. 1661, the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017” that would positively affect Huck House youth: student occupancy rules. Should the bill become law, youth will no longer have to choose between thriving or merely getting by. Read more
The end of the school year can be an overwhelming time for many high school students. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult for many young people to recognize and articulate when they are feeling stressed. Rather than saying “I feel stressed” your child might say “I have a stomachache” or “I’m not sleeping at night.” Some teens may become irritable, impatient, angry, or even aggressive when they are feeling stressed. Others may become anxious, scared, or panicky. As a parent, paying attention to the signs and symptoms of stress can help you recognize and help your child if he or she is struggling. Read more
by Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director
At Huck House we have a couple of concepts that drive our work, but the one that drives all of our work is Positive Youth Development. This approach says that what we say to youth is not as effective as what we do with youth. We know that experience is a tough and persistent teacher so we work hard to make sure its lessons support traits and skills that will be a positive influence for teens. We think about the unique qualities and skills of each youth as an opportunity to nurture characteristics that will be life-long assets. We know that the best way to accomplish this development is within positive, supportive adult and community relationships.
We are currently witnessing Positive Youth Development on a national scale, and I am thrilled to be here in this moment. The thousands of participating youth and supporting adults have created a spectacle of adolescent development at its very best.
People often ask me, “what can we do about all of these young people who are problems?” Let’s take our lessons from the March For Our Lives. First listen without the patronizing filter of knowing what’s best. If we let go of our adult expertise, we just might learn something. Next, ask what they need and want from us. Maybe that means buying the pizza after the meeting instead of running the show. Finally, don’t lose sight of the point. Our task is to help the young people in our lives become their best selves – even if that means letting them come to a different conclusion. In the end we will all be better for it.
My attention was recently captured by a PBS New Hour article titled “How Do You Define ‘homeless’ in America”. This is an ongoing question many homeless advocates find themselves asking and trying to answer. Depending on where you work or with what population, the answer often changes. Not just from person to person or agencies, but there is also a lack of homogeneity within state laws, federal laws, and government programs. The United States Federal Government currently has three different definitions for homelessness, each with different criteria and purpose.
|McKinney-Vento Act or U.S. Department of Education Definition of Homelessness:||U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Definition:||Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) Definition:|
|Section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Act10 defines “homeless children and youths” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence… (U.S. Department of Education , 2017).
This definition does not include those in foster care, transitioning out of foster care, or those couch surfing (moving from couch to couch, due to lack of funds for safe/stable housing) (Dr. Hoback & Anderson; U.S. Department of Education , 2017).
This definition is currently used by various US federal programs (U.S. Department of Education , 2017).
|HUD operates under categories of homelessness, ranging from Cat 1: Literally homeless, Cat 2: Imminent Risk of Homeless, Cat 3: Homeless Under other Federal Statutes, and Cat 4: Fleeing/Attempting to Flee DV (Homelessness Assistance, n.d.).
This definition is used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine eligibility for programs and to determine which programs would qualify for funding from HUD.
|Persons “not more than 21 years of age…for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative and who have no other safe alternative living arrangement” (youth.gov, n.d.).
This definition is currently used for youth serving programs.
Homeless services (including Huckleberry House) have to operate within that system, often resulting in various intake criteria amongst programs within an agency. This prevents not only individuals and families from accessing services, but also may eliminate them from data measurements of the homeless population, reducing the overall awareness and funding projections. This leads many to speculate, if we do not understand homelessness or misrepresent the need of homeless, how can we tackle this issue?
If we were able to operate under one single definition, not only would ALL homeless programs operate under the same funding guidelines, but so would research projects and annual counts which create the yearly data figures for the homeless population. All while creating a standardized understanding of the word “homeless”. Huckleberry House’s belief is that a universal definition of homelessness would make it easier to provide services to the homeless and help to eradicate homelessness.
Leslie Scott, LSW CTP-C
Family Support Program Therapist Intern
Candidate, Master of Social Administration, Case Western Reserve University
Runaway Love by Ludacris ft. Mary J. Blige was recorded in 2006, but its message is still relevant today. Abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, violence and teen pregnancy are among the reasons youth runaway or are put out of their home. Youth and families in Huck House programs are dealing with some of the most difficult problems imaginable. No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, we offer proven programs and committed people who know how to help young people and families take control of their lives. So they can move past the circumstances they’re in, and move toward the future they want.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the Huck House 24 hour crisis line at (614) 294-5553 or visit the Crisis Shelter at 1421 Hamlet St. Columbus, Ohio 43201 (614) 294-8097
In November 2017, Becky Westerfelt, executive director of Huckleberry House, participated in a Columbus Metropolitan Club panel titled “Unexpected Face of Homelessness: Teens on the Street.” We were overwhelmed by the interest from community members to continue the conversation. So we invited interested people to a casual lunch at the Huck House Crisis Shelter this afternoon.
One of the points Becky made during the panel discussion in November was that we know these children before they turn 18. We see them in our schools and after school programs and at our outreach programs. We should not be surprised to see them in homeless or unstably housed situations when they turn 18. Instead of treating them like they are someone else’s children, central Ohio needs to think of young people as belonging to all of us.
Today’s conversation was based on a framing question:
In our everyday lives, how can we help a child who is not in our immediate family?
“I just wish they would have listened to me.” Young people everywhere deal with a vast amount of daily struggles. Only a handful are able to come forward about some of those struggles, especially if it means leaving home, knowing they have no place to go. Abuse, neglect, misunderstandings and unacceptance are just a few of the things preventing young people from living what we would call a “normal” life at home. Whether it’s just a rebellious attitude or a teen who has “come out” about their sexuality, no one deserves to be without a home. During these times, youth would rather risk their own lives than be put through these trials and tribulations at home.
Support systems are extremely important throughout life especially during times like these. A good support system could prevent so many negative outcomes, it could provide resources, ideas for self-care and most of all… understanding. Outreach is another form of letting the young people know about local resources and support groups. The more we put ourselves out there to these individuals, the more we will see progress in our communities with youth.
This article was written in a group setting by current Crisis Shelter youth, lead by Crisis Staff member Zac.
(taken from ncsl.org)