Each night in Seattle, nearly 1,000 young people are homeless. YouthCare serves these youth through street outreach, housing, and education and employment programs — working day and night to get them off the streets and preparing for life.
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 24,000 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.
YouthCare’s Bridge Continuum of Care for Sexually Exploited Youth and Young Adults provides specialized services, including case management, emergency shelter, housing, education, employment training, and trauma-informed therapeutic services to young people ages 12-24 who have experienced (or are at risk of) sexual exploitation.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2012, YouthCare formally launched a homelessness prevention program, comprised of Safe Place (a 24/7 in-person response to youth in crisis in King County), community-based case management for youth at high risk of homelessness, and Project SAFE, which offers clinical consultations to parents of youth at risk of running away or who have already run. Through each program, we are working to help prevent a child from ever spending their first night on the streets. Our community-based case managers work in schools, juvenile detention centers, and drop-in centers, areas where young people might not self-identify as homeless, but still be in need of services like basic needs support, shelter, and counseling.
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.