Monday, July 26, 2010

Information for homeless youth

Moving this to my new home here (it needs to be updated, but I want to go ahead and make it available here anyway), originally posted to my blog on 09/01/2009:

This is a list of resources that I've compiled over time and I regularly offer via online ads. I have decided to copy & paste it here, so that it can be accessed at any time by someone who needs the information. Please keep in mind that I live in the Phoenix, AZ area, and therefore some, but not all, of these resources are limited to the Phoenix area.

If you or someone you know is a homeless teen, or doesn’t have a steady place to stay (also known as “couch surfing”), or is in a bad home situation that they’re thinking of trying to escape, here are some resources and information that may be of help. These organizations/resources offer many more services than those I mention here, but I will tell you some of what I know they have to offer.

Tumbleweed Center For Youth Development
24-hour crisis hotline: 602-841-5799
Toll-free: 1-866-SAFE703

If you are in the Phoenix area, Tumbleweed is the first place I would recommend you call. They have been extremely helpful to many kids I’ve known.

• Serves youth ages 11-22.
• Emergency shelter.
• Drop-in center.
• Transitional living.
• Counseling.
• Tumbleweed will help you with any and all necessities, from a place to sleep to food and clothes, toiletries, literally anything you might need.
• They will help you get your GED. This includes helping you prepare for it, and they will pay for your test. I don’t know for certain that they still offer this, but they gave my foster son a $100 gift card just for passing his GED.
• Tumbleweed has lots of great “incentive” type programs, such as helping you get a job and then giving you rewards (such as gift cards) for certain accomplishments like being on time for work every day, etc.
• Bus passes if you are working or going to school, or looking for work, etc.
• Tumbleweed has a lot to offer, so give them a call!

National Runaway Switchboard

You do NOT have to actually be a “runaway” to get help from this organization.

• Anonymous, confidential & free crisis line 24/7.
• Helps youth up to age 21.
• Message relay & conference calls: They will deliver a message to your family for you and your parents can leave a message with them to pass along to you. If you give them a message for your parents, they will call them and deliver it. This is a very helpful service if you wish to let your parents know you’re okay, or have some other message to get to them, but do not wish to speak to them personally. Constructive messages only (in other words, they won’t call to tell your parents you hate them or curse them out for you). If you would like to talk to your family personally but feel that things won’t go well in the conversation, they will help you call them via conference call and stay on the line with you to help talk through things.
• Referrals to drug rehab facilities, shelters, family counselors, etc.
• Information regarding legal and medical issues.
• “Home Free” program: If you’d like to get home, but cannot afford it, they can provide a free Greyhound bus ticket. There are qualifications you must meet. For example, you must be between the ages of 12 and 20 and have had a missing person’s report filed on you. Up to age 18 you must be returning to a parent or legal guardian. If you’re age 19 or 20, they can get you a ticket to an independent living facility. There may be other rules as well, so please check with them.
• Bulletin Board: On their web site,, they have a bulletin board where you can post questions and get answers. It is a wonderful place to start if you have internet access and you have questions about things like what age it is legal to leave home in different areas of the country, emancipation, legal issues, how to help a friend who is in a bad situation, etc. The bulletin board is really great, and I cannot stress that enough. Very, very helpful.

Covenant House
Covenant House “Nine Line”: 1-800-999-9999

• Their motto: “Food, clothing, shelter for a night: given freely, with no questions asked, no strings attached, for any hurting, homeless youth who will knock on our door tonight.”
• Nineline hotline services available 24/7.
• Urgent and primary medical care free of charge to homeless, runaway, and at-risk young people ages 21 and younger. Psychiatric services also.
• If there is not a Covenant House located in your city, the Nineline will help you with where to go. They also refer to family shelters if your entire family is homeless.
• Provides shelters, help with employment, finding a place to live, etc.
• Mother/Child program: Provides services to homeless pregnant women and young mothers with children. The purpose of the program is to provide long-term housing, health services, counseling, employment training and parenting skills workshops to young mothers so they and their children can look forward to a brighter, more stable future.

ChildHelp USA

• If you believe you are being abused, ChildHelp is a good place to call and discuss it, and what your options are.
• Does not provide immediate shelter.

HomeBase Youth Services
602-254-7777 or 1-888-254-4297

• Helps at-risk and homeless youth between the ages of 18-21.
• Local to the Phoenix and Tempe area.
• Very helpful, respectful, and non-confrontational (in other words, they will offer you help without pushing anything on you). No obligation, no questions asked.
• They have a Street Outreach Van that is stocked with food, clothing, water, hygiene supplies and sleeping bags.
• Resource Program at the Dustin D. Wolfswinkel Center for Youth: Through the program youth receive basic needs, case management, and life-skills training. Resources available at the center include food, clothing, hygiene supplies, laundry and shower facilities, bus tickets, employment skills training, resume writing assistance, support for educational needs, mental health care, substance abuse intervention, case management, medical and dental care, and referrals to obtain overnight shelter and/or permanent housing (either at HomeBase or with an outside agency). Youth are able to earn points for their hard work and, in turn, use those points to obtain gift cards, extra bus tickets, and other prizes offered at the monthly barbecue that's held at the center.
• Offers mental health and substance abuse services to the youth in all of its programs.
• Employment and education services: Employment skills training and educational assistance is available. They will also provide study guides for your G.E.D., and they will pay for your G.E.D.
• HomeBase Education Assistance Fund: Want to go to college, a trade school, or a vocational-training program? You can apply for a scholarship through this program.

Stand Up For Kids

Call this hotline and you will get a very friendly, very helpful person who will talk through your situation with you. They won’t judge, they won’t tell you what you have to do, they will just talk to you and find out what you need right now. Then they will help you get it. It’s that simple. They operate, as they say, “like a family”. Lots of resources from food and shelter to counseling, helping you plan your way, etc.

...and then there’s me...
Cheri Mason

I’m a mom, that’s all I am. I am not a trained social worker, an expert on anything, or a miracle worker. But... I’m pretty good at coming up with ideas, problem-solving, or just listening. I also happen to have been around the block a time or two, and I’ve seen just about everything, so you’re not going to shock me and I’m not going to judge you. If you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from the above resources, or you feel like you’re a little lost and not sure how to ask for help or what questions to ask, or you’d just like the advice of a mom who doesn’t work for any official agency, contact me. I will do what I can, and I have found that there is almost always an answer that we can find together.

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