How Youth Services Supports by Providing Bare Necessities
When we receive a referral to work with youth who is having difficulties in our Youth Services program at Children’s Home, we consider it a privilege. It is a privilege to work alongside them as they try to figure out the best way to navigate through life while still developing through adolescence.
The power of bare necessities
All too often in our field, a youth is assigned a label that relates to their negative behavior. Based off this label, a prescribed intervention is developed by a social service provider or professional to help usher the youth on to a more productive path. At this point, many professionals in our field will begin the youth/counselor relationship, thinking they have all the answers that will address and change the youth’s negative behavior. In our program, we like to take a different approach.
Before we act, we listen
We understand that when building a youth/counselor relationship, it is important that you start with active listening. We understand that each case we receive is different, just like each youth we work with is different. We also know that each youth is the true expert on their life, and therefore they become our teacher.
Throughout our many years of working alongside youth, we have found one consistent factor that can have profound and significant contributions to a youth’s negative behavior – poverty. Poverty impacts our youth in so many ways and can be the cause for their circumstances and why they’ve found themselves in the current situations. It’s crucial that we look to the cause of the problem, not just the problem itself.
First things first
We’ve learned and continue to learn the many ways that poverty impacts our youths’ lives and leads to some of their negative behavior. For example, it’s harder for a kid to concentrate at school if they didn’t get a good night’s sleep. As a result of poverty, some of our families are forced to sleep on the floor because they can’t afford beds. So, with our ground-level point of view, we say, “first things first,” and buy beds to ensure our youth sleep better. We buy groceries to ensure that our families are getting enough to eat. We’ve help buy washers and dryers to make sure our kids go to school with clean clothes.
At Youth Services, we don’t judge the families and youth we work with, nor do we shine the brightest light on the trouble times they may be experiencing. We choose to look closely at the causes and how poverty may be impacting their lives – then we start by providing bare necessities. This allows us to shift our focus onto what matters: building a relationship with the kids we serve. Our programs are effective because they’re built on strong youth and counselor relationships. That’s where we find success.