On March 12th about 180 people, including 33 struggling youth, gathered at the Boys & Girls Club to continue the conversation about helping struggling, homeless, and aging-out foster youth, ages 12-24. This time we didn’t just talk. 30 local organizations that provide services and support for youth were there to help. Northern Nevada HOPES, the WCSD Resource Centers, St. Vincent’s and the Food Bank all brought food, personal hygiene items, backpacks, and other items to help.
Table discussions once again focused on the needs of youth, but this time with a focus on identifying and connecting with services, discussing barriers, and identifying unmet needs. We learned a great deal… so much that we now are ready to take steps to help.
The most immediate concern is the lack of credible information and ability to connect youth with existing service providers. We discovered that no one comprehensive up-to-date resource list existed that could be used by all the Washoe County service providers with specific information about available services.
1. Our first action is to reach out to the hundreds of service providers, big and small, in our area and build an updated resource guide that is accurate, contains needed information to efficiently know who to call, and includes resources that may not have been included before. We’ve already begun work on this; following completion of this list (which we know will become outdated all too soon), we must ensure that youth and nonprofit professional staff can access the information through the internet in a searchable format and perhaps even through an app so youth can easily connect.
2. We’re also exploring, under the guidance of the youth themselves, ways that youth can access this information and other help directly through a downtown location and perhaps a mobile “youth truck.”
Major unmet needs are still being identified; but because it has been difficult to identify and access existing support, we’ll be working on that after the resource directory. Housing is clearly a major issue as is transportation and childcare—all potentially high-cost, but essential, supports to struggling youth and young adults.
If you’d like to learn more, please give me a call or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re at a point in this initiative where we need help with resources like funding and volunteers to make the improvements the youth have so clearly articulated.
We will be meeting in smaller working groups with Youth, Service Providers, Fundholders in the near future. If you would like to be informed on progress or invited to the next steering committee meeting or community-wide convening please call Lyndsey Crossley 775-333-5499.
Lots more photos of the event on Facebook/Youth Network Initiative