Youth Continuum prevents and addresses youth homelessness
Founded in 1966, Youth Continuum has worked with the at-risk youth population since its inception. The agency serves over 1,500 young people annually with comprehensive services for homeless and runaway/throwaway teens, those exiting the child welfare system and youth in the juvenile justice/justice system. Currently, Youth Continuum operates two group homes, an emergency shelter, supportive housing programs, the only homeless youth outreach program in New Haven and an education, job and life-skill training program. Our agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and is licensed by the Department of Children and Families.
Youth Continuum envisions a society where all youth are guaranteed a healthy and productive future. We believe that every young person is capable of strengthening our community as compassionate and resourceful members of society.
In a given year, Youth Continuum serves an average of 1,000 adolescents and young adults. Our organization provides at-risk, neglected, abused and runaway youth with shelter, basic needs and support services designed to help them gain self sufficiency. Serving as our agency's storefront, our MacMullen Center in New Haven operates under an open door policy to any community youth with 24/7 access to shelter and emergency needs.
In the past year, our homeless service intakes have increased from 219 to 253 new clients and their children. 53% of our youth are pregnant or parenting, 60% are involved with the justice system and 90% are seeking employment and/or educational assistance. The MacMullen Center provides targeted outreach and intense case management for academic support, workforce development, life skills training and enrichment opportunities to more than 100 young people that access the facility each month.
Youth Continuum is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), which is the non-profit field's highest recognition for delivering quality child and family services. Through our COA accreditation, we consistently evaluate the operations, quality of services, program results, client satisfaction and client outcomes. This ongoing review process is a fundamental piece of Youth Continuum's 'best practice' model and efforts toward continuous quality improvements.
Dear Community Philanthropists, Concerned Citizens and Inquisitors:It seems we have recently opened the flood gates to a population that has remained invisible, yet ever present, in our community for the past several decades. Young people starting out in an adult world, identified as homeless, are actively striving to better themselves through our organization every day. They are motivated to achieve and they trust in our staff and the programs to provide them the opportunities to do so. Without us, these vulnerable youth will be left to a life of chronic homelessness, dependency on social services, and more likely to commit crime. Supported by the comprehensive services of Youth Continuum they have the tools to catch up with their peers who have had the benefit of consistent family support. We, instead, are their family.
I hope that you will accept an invitation to visit us in New Haven. I welcome your call, your questions, your visit, your suggestions and anything that may help Youth Continuum to provide for the youth that will soon be the future of Greater New Haven.
Sincerely, Carole A. Shomo, CEO
Youth Continuum is the only organization in the greater New Haven area that serves homeless youth. We change lives—Youth Continuum serves over 1,500 teenagers and young adults in need every year who come to us because they are homeless, runaway, or at risk.
Our continuum of care includes emergency shelter, street outreach, and drop-in care services headquartered in our MacMullen Center on Grand Avenue. We help many youth accessing these services move into one of our transitional living programs throughout the greater New Haven area. Our continuum of care also includes four therapeutic residences for youth in the child welfare, parole, and probation systems who do not have a home they can return to. All of our youth also access our education, training, and enrichment programs at the MacMullen Center.
Our youth come to us in crisis. Their long-term quality of life depends on how successfully they can manage this defining period of their lives. We believe that each one of the young people we work with deserves the chance to grow into a self-supporting adult who can manage their finances, maintain healthy relationships, secure steady employment, and nurture their own physical and psychological wellness.
We work collaboratively with a network of federal, state, and local funding and service partners to maintain our continuum of care. But these sources of support are increasingly tenuous. We need your help as well to end youth homelessness. Your contribution will help ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of our community are safe, nurtured, and acquiring the tools they need to move towards a future in which they can thrive.
Ilene Crawford, PhD
Co-President, Board of Directors
Youth Continuum has a geographic catchment of over 500,000 people (New Haven and 21 surrounding towns) and is the only youth serving agency of its kind dedicated to both preventing and reversing homelessness among at-risk youth. Our outreach efforts are amplified through collaborations with many community partners including school systems, social service agencies, local businesses and volunteers. Our street outreach team patrols New Haven's most needy communities - including Dwight, Newhallville, Fair Haven and the Hill neighborhoods. Over 100 presentations are made to groups throughout New Haven, the Valley and Shoreline towns to raise awareness and publicize our services.
Comprehensive program that provides academic support, workforce development programming, vocational and on-the-job training, life skills and a variety workshops and artistic opportunities.
Youth Continuum was recently awarded funding to incorporate the ‘Improve Outcomes’ software data system which will track soft skill acquisition through programs and services provided by our agency. This system was designed by New England Network for Child, Youth & Family Services (NEN) to answer a compelling need among child, youth, and family service agency’s for an easy, integrated, and efficient way to: 1) collect and organize information about client and program outcomes; 2) track participant achievement; 3) evaluate program effectiveness; and 4) promote consistency and effectiveness in case management, crisis management, and planning work with youth. ImProve will also be invaluable in helping us create outcomes, objectives and incremental indicators of success that are consistent with our mission and goals.
Recently adopted as an ongoing program within Youth Continuum’s MacMullen Center, Skills for Life provides hands-on training for youth to gain skills in the construction trade - from the planning phases to the full construction - in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. Currently engaged in our fifth funded project (with thanks in part to the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven), our young people are given a unique opportunity to acquire skills through a rigorous mentoring program that leverages their ability to obtain permanent employment and sustain eventual independence. Over 100 youth have completed the program.
The toll on children shifted back and forth between severely compromised parents, foster homes and homelessness leaves young people without basic skills and the ability to mature into self-sufficient members of our community. Unable to maintain employment, adequate housing and a healthy lifestyle, these youth unknowingly embrace the cycle of poverty and are typically thrust into chronic homelessness as adults.
It is the goal of Youth Continuum to provide a pathway for at-risk youth to successfully transition into adulthood and to avoid chronic homelessness. Through our supportive housing programs they are provided with immediate basic needs and are given the tools to move on to independance.
A four bed emergency shelter for homeless youth under the age of 18 is available for up to 21 nights while basic necessities are provided, mental health and counseling needs are determined, and more permanent housing arrangements are sought.
Jennifer arrived at Basic Center with her six week old infant, fleeing an abusive step father at the age of seventeen. Previous to her visit, she had been living with friends and had lost much of her clothing for herself and for her infant child. Jennifer was also receiving methadone treatment, and her baby too was born drug addicted.
Basic Center was able to provide immediate shelter, counseling, food, clothing and basic needs for herself and her child. After staying with us for 21 days, we counseled her to sign into the Department of Children and Families and live in a permanent home for teen mothers and infants.
Targeted outreach efforts bring approximately 250 walk-ins off the street to our Intake Office each year. This program is the gateway to programs and services for homeless youth. Ours is the only program of its kind serving homeless youth in the greater New Haven area.
The intake process involves a comprehensive evaluation and mental health screening used to develop an Individual Service Plan (ISP) with each youth. The ISP identifies the need for education, employment, housing assistance, emergency shelter, and counseling; and includes assessments for job readiness, life-skills, and formal education. A multi-disciplinary team comprised of a licensed mental health clinician, case manager and job coach complete the full assessment within 48 hours. Once the ISP is complete, youth are introduced to a number of programs offered through the MacMullen Center.
At the age of 14, Terry's 'Gram' was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away quickly. She was the backbone of the family and took care of Terry and her mom, who suffered from severe depression.
Soon after Gram passed, Terry and her mother moved from shelter to shelter while Terry continued to attend high school. After a few weeks of living in shelters, Terry was abandoned by her mother and left to her aunts care. Just before her 15th birthday, Terry’s mother voluntarily gave up parental rights, and was never to be seen again.
After a few months of living with her aunt, Terry’s hopeful situation was shattered by intense physical abuse. The trauma lead to her first suicide attempt, a short term in a mental hospital for children and eventual release back to other family members. For the next several years, Terry was able to live between friends, neighbors and distant relatives, but each residence was short lived and a few times resulted in violence against her.
After a lifetime of unstable housing Terry hoped to to turn her life around with us. It was explained to her that in order to participate in our programs there would be rules to follow and personal goals that needed to be attained every month. She was ready to do whatever it would take. “I just don’t want to become a statistic,” she vowed.
Today, Terry lives in our supportive housing, receives counseling with our clinical therapist and actively participates in Life-Skills programming at our MacMullen Center. She has access to food and clothing whenever she needs it, and was able to find herself a bright red pair of ‘Doc’ Martin shoes to replace the old pair in our Clothes Closet.
Dear Community Philanthropists, Concerned Citizens and Inquisitors:
I have spent over fifteen years in this agency and have watched thousands of youth transition successfully to adulthood. The transformation that they undergo is extraordinary. Our staff guide and mentor them every step of the way. I am grateful to be a part of Youth Conitnuum and proud to have served an organization making significant strides to prevent and reverse youth homelessness in our community.
CAROLE A. SHOMOSUMMARYTwenty years of progressive, results-oriented leadership experience in the management of human service organizations. Proven record of success in re-engineering and system design, strategic planning, program and resource development, and fiscal management within a multi-service structure.
We've recently made some exciting changes at Youth Continuum.
For decades, Youth Continuum has helped guide young people out of homelessness into stable, rewarding lives. In the
beginning their numbers were small. To find them, we had to go into the community with our outreach van and to work with schools and other agencies. We could almost a l ways find housing for them and give them the support they needed. We did it quietly and behind the scenes.
But their numbers are no longer small. We now serve 250 young people each year who a re without homes. They've run away from a n abusive family... or their aunt or grandmother has lost her job and can no longer afford to keep them... or their parents kicked them out...the list is endless. Ha lf of the young women we serve a re pregnant or already have a child. Their homelessness is already ta king a toll on the next generation.
We can no longer remain quiet and behind the scenes. Now these young people seek us out at our outreach center on Grand Avenue. They know that they will find people there to welcome and help them. They'll receive food, clothing, baby supplies, a place to shower, counseling, and help with employment and education. We ca n find housing for some, but not nearly enough
to meet the need. We can help them cope in adult shelters, but that isn't the answer. We need to be part of the solution. And we will be. Those a re the changes we want to tell you about.
Youth Continuum is uniquely positioned in greater New Haven to prevent and address the growing crisis of homelessness among our young people. That's our mission as an agency and that's what we are committed to, now more than ever.
To that end we are broadening our services and our facilities. We will:
• Expand the mental health services at our homeless outreach center;
• Pilot supportive housing facilities for homeless youth, both to alleviate the severe shortage and to provide needed support;
• Strengthen our services to help young people re-integrate into the com munity after incarceration;
• Conduct research with the University of South ern California and the University of Chicago to evaluate which young people are at risk of chronic homelessness and to determine the cost effectiveness to society of providing them the services we will pilot.
All of this is just the beginning. 2015 has been a pivotal year for us as we sharpen our focus and work with all levels of the community to halt this waste of young lives. We will keep you up to date on our progress. We appreciate the support you've given us in the past, and we hope that you'll continue to be our advocate and partner in ending youth homelessness.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
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