Man skateboards past billboards about new condos.

Can Washington State Keep Youth Off the Streets After They Leave Detention?

By the age of 17, David Vanwetter had been in and out of detention perhaps a dozen times.
Washington state is vowing to keep young people like Vanwetter — often with complicated and troubled lives — from becoming homeless after they exit the jailhouse door. The state Legislature has ambitiously pledged to stop releasing youth from “publicly funded systems of care” — juvenile detention, foster care and mental health and drug treatment — into homelessness by the end of 2020. And that doesn’t mean putting them in a cab to a homeless shelter: Youth must have “safe and stable housing,” the law says.

Child welfare: A crowd of young people, only heads visible, in large room.

A Graphic Memoir About Working With Youth

I have worked since 1981 with teenagers who are homeless, runaways, addicted to drugs and alcohol, in the criminal justice system, former gang members and victims of abuse and neglect.  I am now the director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services, the largest program in Vermont for this population.

runaway kid

Runaway Youth Helped Using 10-Question Tool

Experts estimate about 2 million kids run away from home each year putting them at greater risk of physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, drug addiction and physical and mental health problems. Many are in need of medical care or other services. To ensure runaways get the help they need, police in St. Paul, Minn. who encounter runaways are using a short, 10-question screening tool to assess the runaway’s safety and whether they have been victimized while they’ve been away from home. Medical professionals and researchers in Minnesota developed the 10-Question Tool with assistance from local police.

Food Pantry Helps Students in Need at Metro Atlanta University

As the holidays draw closer, while many college students are spending late nights preparing for final exams and finishing projects, some students are just worried about finding the money to pay for food. At one college in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, students struggling between paychecks have access to a donated food pantry where they can stock up on two-weeks of food. The Feed the Future program, run by the Psychiatric and Social Services Department of Kennesaw State University and the KSU Staff Senate, feeds up to 30 hungry students each month during the fall and spring semesters, according to the program’s director, Tao Bartleson Mosley, a professor and social worker at the campus health clinic. “Demand varies by month,” she said. “Summer is slow.

What to do with a Homeless Teenager

One week back in February, I noticed something amiss at the Miller ranch when I came home from work. Our kid’s friend, Travis* was sitting on our couch enjoying Comedy Central. That wasn’t unusual, but after two weeks I came to the sneaking suspicion that Travis was actually living with us. After some investigation, we found he was spending his nights on a futon in our son’s room. When asked, our son said he felt sorry for him because he’d been kicked out of the Army, and then lost his job, which caused him to lose his car, which made him homeless because it was where he’d been living.