Gould Evans and the STEAM Studio hosted the Coalition of Homeless Youth Provider Services (CHYPS), a Kansas City organization consisting of 15 area agencies that provide services to homeless youth throughout the metro area. As a part of their services, the organizations are continually looking for new opportunities to engage youth in the local community, offer exposure to new life and trade skills, and to break them out of their burdensome routines. In the words of one case manager, “kids get tired of looking at our own walls. It’s not always easy to get them to return to our facilities for their weekly classes.”
The majority of these organizations offer emergency shelters and/or transitional living programs (TLP’s). Additionally, organizations like the Halo Foundation and reStart offer classes and workshops to enrich the lives of the youth and teach them valuable skills working toward self-sufficiency. Many of the organizations lead activity groups, host art therapy workshops, and offer financial literacy classes. They rely heavily on volunteers, even for assistance in simply bringing in dinner – a major enticement to get youth to class!
Several of our guests introduced themselves as part of the Street Outreach Program, a cooperative program between Synergy Services and reStart. These selfless individuals serve youth who aren’t yet in shelters, and focus on building relationships with people in the community who will see these kids throughout the neighborhoods. “You could have an army of people looking for kids on the street and not find any,” said Ryan Tomlinson with reStart Street Outreach. “It’s important to connect with teachers, police officers, counselors, and the like. Looking for kids on the streets is really difficult considering that many of them aren’t ready to identify with being at risk.”
Often, even the most basic levels of support can be immensely helpful to these youth. Assistance in getting photo identifications, bus passes, or help with basic hygiene needs can get these youth “miles ahead.” These agencies also offer teen drop-in centers, child advocacy centers, dental and medical offices, and more. Transporting kids among these service locations is a big part of what they offer.
It was great making new friends who sacrifice so much to make an impact in Kansas City. We look forward to hosting more programs in the STEAM Studio as these wonderful organizations “seek to do more relaxed things with their youth,” says Rita Carr from reStart. It’s both heartbreaking and rewarding to make a difference in the lives of these kids, some as young as 12. Their resilience and savviness in adapting survival skills, both physical and socially, is amazing – they put our own “street smarts” to shame. The discussion was extremely encouraging and exciting for providers as they learned how STEAM Studio can be a resource to provide “new resources and new trends” so desperately needed to keep youth engaged. We’re excited to nourish these ongoing relationships and hope others in the Kansas City area will reach out and support these organizations as well!
The Coalition for Homeless Youth Provider Services includes participants from the following organizations:
Hillcrest Transitional Housing
Stepping Stone Transitional Living Program
Missouri Department of Social Services
Every Child’s Hope
Kansas City Library
Wyandot Mental Health
Good Samaritan KC
City Union Mission
Archdiocese of Kansas City