By Lindsay Pankok | email@example.com
For all the incredible creativity, resilience, and drive they bring to their lives and goals each day, homeless and street-involved young people can be highly vulnerable to trauma, sexual exploitation, negative health outcomes, and violence. On top of these experiences, many young people are re-traumatized by systems of policing, foster care, immigration, healthcare, and even education, when such public systems don’t center survivors or understand trauma.
The result of this is a systems gap in which young people cannot access the supports they need within programs designed for and by themselves. Over the last several years, Streetwork – Safe Horizon’s continuum of youth services – has made a strategic long term commitment to change this. We have taken on this challenge by focusing on mental health as the key to youth outcomes.
Through a federally-funded group trauma project, a licensed satellite clinic, and a unique approach to trust and relationships in every interaction, we are already seeing incredible results based on a preliminary data set:
Over 900 young people benefitted from some level of mental health intervention – and nearly 200 of them engaged in more intensive group or individual evidence-based therapies
Across the board, young people’s trauma-related risk behaviors decreased including alcohol/marijuana use, serious depression or anxiety, trouble controlling violent behavior, or suicidality.
Moreover, we have observed an increase in young people attaining housing and employment outcomes, including a 40% increase in the number of young people who are housed and a 25% increase in the number of young people who are employed
The Streetwork model has exciting promise for young people in New York City and beyond. Moving forward, we’re going to do even more of this work, learning from youth and shifting systems towards their needs and experience.
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