ending youth homelessness

Helpful Resource from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

Excerpt: “Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) may be disproportionately affected by human trafficking. They face higher rates of discrimination and homelessness, making them especially vulnerable to traffickers.”

Read the full article here: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/resources/breaking-barriers-lgbtq-services

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National Prevention Week: May 17-23

NSPN supports National Prevention Week!

NSPN supports National Prevention Week!

A note from Mr. William H. Bentley, Associate Commissioner, Family and Youth Services Bureau, and Frances M. Harding, Director at Center for Substance Abuse Prevention:

Dear Colleagues,

This week is National Prevention Week, a time for all of us to focus on behavioral health, the essential role it plays in the overall health of young people and their families, and its importance to our productivity and prosperity as a nation. The Administration for Children and Families’ Family and Youth Services Bureau is a partner with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in supporting National Prevention Week.  During this week, and throughout the year, we encourage you to bring awareness of the behavioral health issues that may be experienced by the children, youth, and families you work with every day.

The daily health themes of National Prevention Week cover many behavioral health issues, including: tobacco use, underage drinking, excessive alcohol use, opioid and prescription drug misuse, illicit drug use and youth marijuana use, and suicide.  By increasing awareness and educating others about these issues, we will make great strides in overcoming the challenges of youth homelessness, adolescent pregnancy, and domestic violence, and help our nation’s young people and their families lead healthy, productive, and violence-free lives.

In honor of National Prevention Week, community organizations in every U.S. state and many U.S. territories are hosting events (http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week/community-events) to inform the public about the risks associated with substance use and misuse and ways to promote personal health. State and federal agencies and national organizations are sharing information about actions communities can take to prevent mental or substance use disorders.

I invite you to join us in recognizing National Prevention Week by taking the Prevention Pledge (https://www.facebook.com/samhsa/app_227679917356169) and encouraging the youth and families you work with to do the same. In taking the Pledge, we demonstrate to others that we care and are actively working to advance behavioral health.  I also invite you to take a photo of how you maintain a healthy lifestyle and what inspires you to choose prevention.  Share your photos via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #ChoosePrevention (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ChoosePrevention) to inspire others. Thank you for your commitment to National Prevention Week and the health and well-being of our young people and their families.

Sincerely,

William H. Bentley
Associate Commissioner
Family and Youth Services Bureau

Frances M. Harding
Director
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Mother’s Day

By: Holly Arnold, Residential Shelter Manager at Home Start, Inc’s Maternity Shelter Program in collaboration with residents and staff in Home Start’s housing program

I am currently at home scrubbing unmentionables out of my son’s Spiderman underwear while my other two-year-old screams incessantly in my ear because he wants grapes. My six-year-old is outside kicking a ball against the wall waiting for his dad to get home from work. During times like this, I constantly think…how do our residents do it?

The I remember some inspirational words. The staff at Home Start’s Maternity Shelter Program asked our 23 residents to provide us with one word that meant something to them in order to create a custom painting. The word could be inspirational, something that got them through a tough time, a mantra, or a word that reminded them of something positive. Their words were:

Perseverance, Competent, Family, Determined, Omnipotent, Enlightenment, Love, Memories, Integrity, Peace, Aspiration, Hope, Strong, Serenity, Respect, Be Yourself, Persistence, Strive, Dedication, Patience, Courageous

Every time I think of these words I am reminded of motherhood. Typically, the media celebrates Mother’s Day with stories of stay-at-home mothers putting lasagna in the oven and carpooling to soccer practice. And while there is certainly praise due to those moms, I think it’s important to salute a different type of mother: our 18-24 year old ladies experiencing motherhood in the midst of homelessness, without family support, recovering from addition…and triumphing. Mothers who are able to take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Mothers who are able to sing praise of perseverance, family, strength and pour love into their children, no matter their struggles.

I am also reminded of the words of my staff who completed the same exercise:

Sunshine, Optimism, Compassion, Integrity, Fun, Passion, Dedication, Semantics, Achievement, Hope, Presence, Peace

I know I am among strong women who experience motherhood through the eyes of our participants and appreciate the beauty of a new generation. While we work on strengthening families, preventing child abuse and neglect, providing stability and self-sufficiency – we also see the light and the promise in this beautiful, incredible work we do.

Have an inspirational Mother’s Day!

Our finished painting, created by Megan Bisbee: www.meganbisbee.com 

NSPNsights Blog - "Inspirational Mother's Day"

NSPN Supports #40toNoneDay – Here’s Why You Should, Too

It’s a statistic that may shock you, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), while about 7% of the general youth population does the same. The discrepancy is outrageous. And it’s impossible to ignore.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015 NSPN will join people across the country – including national advocacy organizations, elected officials, service providers, celebrities, LGBT youth, and community members – to support the first ever #40toNoneDay.

#40toNoneDay is national awareness day for everyone who cares about ending LGBT youth homelessness. While there are many factors that contribute to LGBT youth homelessness, identity-based family rejection is the most commonly cited reason. The ultimate goal is to reduce the disproportionate percentage from 40% to none. We need your help!

People often think that, because they don’t work at a shelter or service provider, they don’t have a role to play in the effort to end LGBT youth homelessness. The reality is: Everyone can make a difference! LGBT youth experiencing homelessness interact with more than just people working at shelters. They go to coffee shops and libraries, ride public transportation, use the internet. To put it simply: they live life! We all share the same world and you may interact with these youth on a regular basis without even knowing it!

NSPN is honored to support #40toNoneDay, but we cannot do this alone. All of us have the ability to make a positive impact in the movement to end LGBT youth homelessness. The opportunity is yours. Will you take it?

Get involved at www.40toNoneDay.org.

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The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

Statement from Laurie Jackson, President/CEO of National Safe Place Network, on the introduction of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act

“On behalf of National Safe Place Network members, licensed Safe Place agencies and runaway and homeless youth grantees, we are pleased this bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressmen John Yarmuth and Dave Reichert are working to advance needed updates to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. These updates will provide more flexibility and resources for agencies serving runaway and homeless youth across the country.

We applaud the efforts of the Congressmen and the National Network for Youth and their partners for leading this reauthorization effort and championing the needs of runaway, homeless and vulnerable youth.”

National Network for Youth Press Release: Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize RHYA Introduced in the House – April 15, 2015: https://www.nn4youth.org/press-releases/2015/04/15/rhytpahouseintroduction2015/

Your Needs. Your Network. Together We Can.

NSPN Membership & Safe Place License Renewal Drive Kicks Off April 1, 2015

It’s that time of year again – time to renew or begin your membership and Safe Place license with National Safe Place Network (NSPN). We’ve enjoyed offering benefits and services to our members and licensed agencies this past year and we hope you will join us for an exciting, eventful 2015-2016.

For more than three decades, NSPN has provided services and support to agencies like yours, serving youth and families. Hundreds of thousands of youth have benefited from your work and involvement as a youth service provider. You are the Network’s most important asset – without youth and other agencies who believe in participating in and learning from an experienced community, there is no Network.

Starting on April 1, you will have the opportunity to sign up for or renew your membership with NSPN. As a Safe Place agency, you will have the opportunity to renew your license. Be on the lookout for forms coming in the mail, and be sure to check out our updated webpage beginning April 1.

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TXT 4 HELP Service for Youth in Crisis

This week, communities across the country are celebrating National Safe Place Week (#NSPWeek2015)! This nationally-recognized week honors the Safe Place program, which brings together businesses and volunteers to provide immediate help and safety for teens facing abuse, neglect, homelessness or other crisis situations. It’s also a time to show appreciation for the many businesses and volunteers that participate in the Safe Place program to support youth.

Today is TXT 4 HELP Tuesday during NSP Week! TXT 4 HELP is a 24/7 text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Check out this new video to learn more about TXT 4 HELP and to watch a real-life texting exchange take place.

To learn more about TXT 4 HELP, please visit: http://nationalsafeplace.org/text-4-help/

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Truly. Even if you don’t like chocolate, it is hard to bypass a Valentine’s heart filled with a variety of choices. If it is your box, and you are patient, you look at the candy chart and based on the descriptions, you prioritize and dive deep. If you do not have a chart and you are forced to guess, you rely first on the touch test (to see if pink or white comes out) and then the taste test (a little nibble is enough). Though you might be left with a package that looks as if it has been ravaged by hungry squirrels, you are satisfied that you have made the most of your chocolate gift. Your tummy is happy. Your brain is happy. Life is good. Note – if it is not your box of chocolate, your temptation may get the best of you and anyone who left the box lying around, well – consequences.

Our work is like a box of chocolates. The youth may or may not come to us with a chart. When we see the description, it is far too easy to compare those words in search of those youth we know are easiest to help. Or, the ones “I like best.” Although we know all youth are different and wonderful and filled with goodness, these characteristics are often hidden underneath a shell that is difficult to crack with squeezing a bit. Metaphorically, we squeeze youth with our intake processes, our rules, our assessments and our interviews. Sometimes, we see a youth start to crack open – and much too late – we may realize we didn’t need to squeeze so hard and once cracked, no one else may be willing to give helping this youth a try. Why? Because sometimes it is only when we can see the inside of a youth that we are willing to make a commitment.

As we enter a month that celebrates love and the sharing of hearts, think about how to best share your heart with the youth you serve and with your colleagues. What do we love about our work and why does it make us feel special? Remember, it began way back in grade school. Do you like me? Yes or no? Youth come to us wanting to be liked. Remember to check “yes.”

Schedule a Visit with your Government Officials

Schedule a visit with your government officials!

As you think about the year ahead, what do you plan? What do you include on your calendar? You probably include financial deadlines: when year-end documents are due, when grants begin and end. You probably have a grants calendar with alerts about when new RFPs will be released. You may have an events calendar and training calendar. What about an advocacy calendar?

One thing to keep in mind when planning events or advocacy efforts, is the Congressional calendar. When are the House of Representatives and the Senate in session? And, perhaps more importantly, when will they back in their home districts.

The dates below are the tentative dates for when House members and Senators will be back in their home districts and states. Thinking about inviting your representative to tour your facility? Check the calendar below for possible times when your representative may be in your district, and give his or her office a call to check on availability.

District work periods:

House

  • February 17 – 20
  • March 9 – 13
  • March 30-April 10
  • May 4 – 8, 26 – 29
  • June 29 – July 3
  • August 3 – September 4
  • September 21 – 25
  • October 13 – 16
  • November 9 – 13, 23 – 27

Senate

  • February 16 – 20
  • March 30 – April 10
  • May 25 – 29
  • June 29 – July 6
  • August 10 – September 7
  • October 12 – 16
  • November 23 – 27
  • December 21 – 31

Links:

House of Representatives 2015 Calendar:  http://www.majorityleader.gov/Calendar/114thCongressFirstSession-Monthly.pdf

Senate 2015 Calendar: https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/one_item_and_teasers/2015_schedule.htm

Building relationships with your federal, state, and local representatives is a  great way to get the word out about your program and share stories and information that could earn you a great government ally. For additional information about advocacy activities, and the difference between advocacy and lobbying, join us on Monday, February 23, at 3:00 p.m. for the webinar, Advocating for your Programs. National Safe Pace Network staff and members of the NSPN Advisory Board Advocacy Committee will go over the differences between advocacy and lobbying and will outline some ideas for successful advocacy efforts. Register for the webinar here:  https://nationalsafeplace.ilinc.com/register/vsmpvpx