Learn more about the issues facing the young people we serve.

Melanie blog

No One Deserves to be Without a Home | By: Zac and Youth in our Crisis Shelter

“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.

 

  • 1 in 7 young people between the ages 10 and 18 will run away
  • Youth ages 12 to 17 are more at risk of homelessness than adults
  • 75% of runaways are females
  • Estimates of the proportion of pregnant homeless girls are between 6% and 22%
  • Between 20% and 40% of runaway and homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ)
  • 46% of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused, 38% reported being emotionally abused, and 17% reported being forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member
  • 75% of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out or will drop out of school

(taken from ncsl.org)

Homeless Youth Face Dangerously Cold Temperatures

During the cold month of January, our blog focus is homelessness. Bryant Maddrick, of ABC6, summarizes how Huckleberry House and Star House help homeless teens during this time.

http://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/organizations-help-homeless-teens-during-dangerous-cold

Using Strengths to Build Safe, Supportive Homes

It’s ultimately about helping teens and families use their strengths to build a safe and supportive home.
Whether we’re working with young people from our Crisis Program, youth from our Transitional Living Program, or families who come to us specifically for counseling, the young people and families we serve all face tough challenges. But they also have strengths. We leverage those strengths to help teens and families develop skills they can use to tackle their issues and to grow as individuals and families.

Getting Brian “Home”

When parents and teens don’t see eye to eye, it can lead to a lot of fighting and discord. Sometimes, it leads to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

While 16-year-old Brian was fortunate to have a safe home and a loving family, he wasn’t really “at home” there. When his school referred him to the Family Support Program, Brian wasn’t eating. He wasn’t going to school. In fact, he wasn’t doing much of anything other than spending time in a dark room all day.

His parents were clearly concerned. But a lack of communication as well as cultural differences—Brian’s parents are immigrants, while Brian was born and raised in the U.S.—made it hard for them to connect. Brian’s mom was pushing him to “snap out of it” by getting involved in activities like sports. Problem was, Brain just wasn’t interested. And the things he did want to do were not supported or appreciated by his parents. The constant conflict led to severe depression.

During counseling sessions with Brain and his mom, we helped the family find ways to better understand each other. When mom gave permission for Brian to pursue some of his own interests, such as drama club and math club, Brian began to come out of his shell. In return, Brian also started to show interest in the things that were important to his parents, such as learning about and participating in the family’s culture.
“We knew this family had a lot of strengths and that mom clearly wanted to help her son, she just wasn’t sure how,” says Abbey Wollschleger, LISW-S, Family Support Program Team Leader. “By working with them on communication skills, we helped this family better understand each other and create a much more supportive home. Brian has shown tremendous improvement. He’s not just getting out of bed and going to school now; he is enjoying his life and his relationship with his family.”

Getting Kids Connected

It comes down to getting kids connected to services and support that can help.

At-risk young people too often fall through the cracks because they do not know where to go for help, or they have a hard time asking for support. The Youth Outreach Program addresses that need by meeting kids where they are and by providing a safe, convenient place for youth to find us. Between our youth outreach runs and the YOP Shop, our goal is to find as many at-risk youth as possible and help them connect to services and resources that can support them in developing life skills, setting and reaching goals, and creating a road map to the future they want.

Getting Ameila “Home”

When 22-year-old Amelia came to the YOP Shop, she was homeless and pregnant. She had a juvenile record, an eviction, and was legally blind. While she had a strong desire to get her life on track and provide for her baby, she had no idea where to start.

At the YOP Shop, she found the direction and guidance she needed. First, Amelia’s YOP counselor helped her make and get to doctors’ appointments so she could get contacts and literally see more clearly. Then the YOP program helped her put her future in focus, too.

By connecting Amelia to the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP), Amelia received the support and guidance she needed to start the process of getting her juvenile record expunged, removing a major obstacle to reaching her future employment and housing goals. Her YOP Shop team also helped her find resources to aid in her job search. The team was able to secure temporary housing through a program that provides support for parenting mothers. Then, the YOP Shop workers advocated on Amelia’s behalf to secure a permanent apartment for her.

To help Amelia provide the best start for her new baby, Huckleberry House staff set up an online baby shower drive. Through generous donations, Amelia received many baby necessities including clothing, a crib, and diapers, all things she needed to give her child the best start in life.

Instead of Amelia and her baby facing life on the streets, today they are secure in their own home. Amelia continues to work and provide for her daughter. With the YOP Shop’s support, she continues to see the future she wants and to move closer to it every day.

Source: Short North Arts District via Facebook

Why should we support Pride?

On Saturday, June 17, about 50 Huck House youth, staff, and friends will march in the 2017 Pride Parade.

prode photo

 

When one of our family counselors asked if he could put together a group to march in this year’s pride parade, “yes” was such an easy and automatic answer that we didn’t think too much about the question. We got to work registering and ordering t-shirts and adding rainbow items to our Amazon Wish List. Then, as we started talking to youth and staff about marching, they started sharing their answers to “Why should Huck House support Pride?” Here are two great responses. Read more

Depressed teen girl

Homeless Youth – Key Statistics

The article below, from Lake News Online, focuses on youth homelessness in Missouri, but contains national statistics worth sharing.

To read the full article go to http://www.lakenewsonline.com/news/20170329/how-we-got-here-why-our-youth-wind-up-homeless


How We Got Here: Why our youth wind up ‘homeless’ 

 

  • “Juveniles are just 24 percent of the total U.S. population, they make up around 34 percent of all people living in poverty.”
  • “In 2013, the poverty rate for single-mother families was 39.6 percent, nearly five times the rate of married-couple families.”
  • “Between 2008 and 2010 [The Great Recession], the number of multiple families living together increased by at least 12 percent.”
  • “Between 20 to 50 percent of homeless women cite intimate partner violence as the primary cause of their homelessness.” (Bassuk et al., 1996; Browne & Bassuk, 1997; Guarino & Bassuk, 2010; Hayes et al., 2013)
  • “According to Child Trends Data Bank’s Homeless Children and Youth Report in 2015, surveys of city officials in the U.S. cited mental illness, substance abuse and lack of affordable housing as the most frequently cited reasons for unaccompanied youth.”

 

flower sidewalk crack

Falling through the Cracks – Youth Homelessness | By: Becky Westerfelt

flower sidewalk crack

We have too many kids falling through cracks that we’ve created. Youth fall fast and hard into poverty on their 18th birthday. Just look at the number of transition age youth in the adult homeless shelter if you want evidence that we are not doing as well as we think. Last year almost 1,000 people in the adult shelter were between the ages of 18-24. In fact, 29% of the families in the adult family shelters were headed by people between the ages of 18-24. While we are rightfully concerned about kids who “age out of foster care”, that group is a fraction of the youth I’m talking about. What is true, however, is that most of those youth spent time in foster care or were served by many of the youth agencies in Franklin County. I know there are many committees and organizations talking about how we as a community should respond. But those of us in the youth-serving part of our human services community are not asking ourselves the hard question, “did we do everything we could when these young people were with us to prepare them to live independently, safely and with hope for their future?”

The three most common comments with which teens greet our Youth Outreach Specialists are: “I need money;” “I don’t have any place to stay;” and “me and my Mom got into it again.” Just in hearing these words from a struggling young adult we recognize that the reality of a “basic need” for a transition-age homeless youth (17-25 years old) is more complicated than the traditional, tangible interpretation of food, shelter and clothing. These young adults are chronologically old enough to transition through the adult shelter system to independent living; but they do not have the life skills, literacy, or requisite intangible adult support to succeed through the process. Making connections to community programs and resources is not enough. These young people are battling numerous, significant social, emotional and mental health barriers that require time and space with adults available to guide and support them.

 

Becky Westerfelt, MSW
Executive Director of the Huckleberry House

Chichi's art

What does it feel like to be homeless?

Chichi's art

Chakhinia “Chi Chi” Galbraith, 18 years old, is a self-taught artist who has enjoyed art since she was a young child. Ironically, when Chi Chi would get in to trouble, her mother would make her do art as a punishment. She now uses it as a past time to escape reality. Chi Chi’s favorite area of focus in art is Anime. Anime is short for Japanese animation often and is characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes. Chi Chi feels that in the world of anime, the possibilities are unlimited and that is intriguing to her.

When the Huck House youth outreach team met her, Chi Chi was living on the land. Her outreach worker asked her to paint a picture that answers the question “What does it feel like to be homeless?” and the painting above is what she created. Her painting now hangs in the YOP (Youth Outreach Program) Shop at 893 East 11th Avenue in Columbus.

Chi Chi is now living in the Huck House Transitional Living Program. In her spare time, she also enjoys hanging out with friends, listening to music and watching anime on TV.

Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15), Huck House executive director Becky Westerfelt, and Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3).

Homeless Children and Youth Act Reintroduced at Huck House

Today, Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) announced the reintroduction of the Homeless Children and Youth Act at the Huckleberry House. This legislation, which is cosponsored by Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA), provides a more accurate system for the federal government to understand the problem of youth homelessness and help better serve this population. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) […]

cellphone

Adolescent Development: Staff Perspective

Adolescence is a difficult and exciting time of life.  Teenagers go through physical, social, and emotional changes during adolescence.  The major focus on this stage in life is teenagers’ desire to gain more independence from their family and to form their own unique identity.   However, teenagers still need structure, security and support.  It is often times families who give teenagers this sense of structure, support and security.

A list of helpful information about adolescent development:

  • Your teenager’s brain continues to develop until age 25.
  • Teenage decisions can be influenced by a strong emotional response because of the influence of the limbic system (which controls emotions) in an adolescent brain.  Eventually, the limbic system in your teen’s brain will be under greater control of the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, controlling impulses, moral reasoning and high order thinking.  This is the last part of the brain to develop.
  • As previously mentioned, the last part of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex is in charge of understanding cause and effect.  Sometimes teenagers may engage in negative behavior and not know why, and not truly understand the potential consequences of the behavior.
  • Teen brains are wired to seek out rewards and seek instant gratification.  This means that teenagers are likely to engage in risky behaviors (drug use, sex, unsafe driving, etc.) because they have challenges delaying gratification.

  • Hormonal changes in the brain make teenagers more aware that they are not alone in this world. This results in a teenager feeling more self-conscious than ever before. They may think everyone is thinking about them, judging them, or watching them.
  • Social media CAN influence the brain. Studies have shown that when teenagers look at pictures on social media that display risky behaviors, it decreases activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling impulses.

A list of what guardians and parents can do to support their teenager through adolescence:

  • Spend quality time with your teenager, even if they resist.
  • Show them unconditional love.
  • Set boundaries and follow through with consequences.
  • Give them opportunities in SAFE spaces to practice skills such as delaying gratification, controlling impulses, and making decisions. The more they practice in safe places, the better they can use these skills out in the ‘real world’.
  • Give them structure and predictability. Teach them how to be organized.
  • Do not give long lectures. The average teen will stop listening after 4-8 minutes. Make it short, sweet and to the point.
  • Limit the amount of time your teenager spends on social media. It is important for your teenager to have time away from social media and cell phones so they can learn to regulate their emotions and develop appropriate social skills.

Michelle Geeting
Crisis Program Supervisor