TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — In any given year in the US, 1 in 30 teens, ages 13 to 17, experience some form of homelessness. For ages 18 to 25, that number jumps up to 1 out of every 10.
Studies show that more than half of all youth who experience homelessness had been arrested at least once. The connection between homelessness and crime is an issue communities across the country are facing, including here in the Big Bend.
One local organization is working to help at-risk youth in the Tallahassee community, but they need help. Capital City Youth Services is looking to hire more people to serve families facing a crisis in the community.
CCYS gets to the root problem at-risk kids and families are facing by meeting their basic needs to help put their lives on a better path going forward.
"More often now we're seeing that family units are in crisis," said Lanekia Bennett, the Human Resources Coordinator at Capital City Youth Services (CCYS). Bennett says more and more families are facing homelessness, food insecurity, and not being able to provide for their families across the Big Bend.
"With their parents like couch surfing trying to find a place to stay the kids are acting out in school and getting in trouble and rebelling from their parents," Bennett added.
That's why CCYS is working to hire over a dozen new employees to help families facing a crisis meet their basic needs. CCYS plans to overstaff their team to combat shortages they're facing and expand their reach.
They're looking to bring on:
- Youth Care Specialists that provide direct care to youth in the CCYS shelter and group homes.
- Counselors to give kids and families one-on-one counseling focusing on mental health.
- Street Outreach Advocates who act as "boots on the ground" to find more families in need of care in Leon and Wakulla counties.
Bennett says it's these services that can create lasting change for youth. "If they're able to process what they have in their mind and put it out on paper and into the world that's when major changes can happen," said Bennett.
John Robertson is the Membership Services Director with Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. They work directly with CCYS by providing advocacy and training to employees.
"CCYS does a lot more than just help people in need they also help the entire community stay safer and more stable because we work with young people before a crisis gets out of control," said Robertson.
Robertson added CCYS helps kids understand their emotions and regulate their behavior which helps them have a healthier home life and better path away from violence in the future.
"For every horrible story you hear on the news in Tallahassee or the surrounding counties there are thousands of examples of where that same thing might have happened if not for the people in this building and who show up here everyday," said Robertson.
CCYS is free and open to anyone that needs help across the entire Big Bend.
If you'd like to work at CCYS, click here for more info and to apply for the new positions.