Each night in Seattle, 700–1,000 young people have no safe place to sleep. That's thousands of homeless children and young adults each year, trying to survive on our streets. YouthCare serves these homeless young people through street outreach, housing, and education and employment programs — working day and night to get them off the streets and preparing for life.
Each year, YouthCare provides basic services to homeless young people and helps them obtain life skills, educational credentials, housing, and employment. YouthCare’s street outreach team distributes essential supplies to homeless youth across Seattle four nights per week. Last year, the James W. Ray Orion Center, our hub for basic services, provided over 27,000 meals, and each month, offered a safe space to over 400 youth to get hygiene supplies, take showers, wash clothes, connect with medical care, and access case management.
Finding employment or attending school is hard when your first concern is where you’ll sleep tonight. Our housing options provide youth with a safe space to plan their next step while simultaneously receiving case management and counseling. We offer short-term emergency shelter for those on the streets, as well as transitional housing programs for youth 15-23. Finally, youth can “graduate” into our independent housing, learning how to budget and pay bills, while continuing with a case manager. All of our long-term housing requires that youth work towards education and employment goals.
Education and Employment Training
Many homeless youth arrive at our door with gaps in knowledge, or little work experience. Some arrive simply without the confidence in themselves to believe they can succeed. Our employment counselors work with youth to develop resumes and conduct mock interviews, while our employment training programs teach youth customer service skills, computer repair, or construction work. Meanwhile, youth can work towards their GED or high school diploma at our on-site Interagency Academy, a partnership with Seattle Public Schools.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
YouthCare was chosen by the City of Seattle to run The Bridge, a new residential recovery program for sexually exploited youth. This partnership launched in May 2010, headed by Seattle’s Human Services Department, in coordination with other agencies and with support from community donors. YouthCare's Bridge Program is the only program in the Pacific Northwest providing residential services, including emergency shelter and long term housing, to girls and boys under 18 who have experienced sexual exploitation.
YouthCare serves breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays at the James W. Ray Orion Center. Volunteer support for meeting this basic need is critical. When a group of 5–8 community members prepares and serves a meal, the youth benefit from a good, hot meal, and the volunteers benefit from the experience. This is a great opportunity for corporate groups and community organizations to connect while performing a valuable service.