PROTECTING THE YOUTH
Our Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) program was created out of a long-observed need to provide wraparound services for a unique population that does not fall into the common category for family shelters. In 2020 after realizing the distinctive needs of adolescents who are trying to break family cycles of substance use and abuse, aging out of foster care, leaving juvenile incarceration, trying to escape gang involvement, coming home from military service, or various other situations, we established a second shelter to house and guide young men and women ages 18-24. No longer children, but certainly not yet adults, the young people we serve are often lost in the shuffle of support programs. We consider their specific needs in our program choices, home setup, rules and regulations of the program, and all other aspects. All TAY residents receive the same services as our families in shelter, however they have a specialized case manager as well as additional job training support through our partner, Orange County.
Combining Housing Education and Skills for Students. A transitional 12-24 month program for 18-24-year-olds. Residents attend college, trade school, or complete a high school diploma/GED requirements. Many of our residents were in the foster care system and do not have help navigating the education system. Our case managers help them set personal goals and connect them to appropriate resources.
We are expanding, more TAY beds by adding a modular unit at our existing shelter TAY shelter. We have partnered with University of California, Irvine to make this happen and we are very excited for this partnership!
In 2022 HIS-OC began a partnership with Lot 318 and The City of Placentia to operate two resource centers in Placentia. Located at The Gomez Center (1701 Atwood Ave) and The Whitten Center (900 S Melrose St), HIS-OC staffs the center and works with our partners to provide resource connections and housing navigation as well as after-school tutoring; parenting, financial literacy, fitness, and other classes; a food and necessities pantry; and community events throughout the year. The centers are located in two of Orange County’s most under-resourced areas, and are open to all who find themselves in need of assistance. Our Resource Navigator is bilingual in English and Spanish.
TARGETING THOSE IN NEED
We started the program with a house for young men ages 18-24. Our goal is to add another shelter for young women by 2024. The first shelter houses ten to twelve students with an in-house resident manager. Students have the opportunity to reside in our supportive student housing for 24 months.
Youth must be identified as homeless or at-risk of homelessness to be eligible for the program—the CHESS program targets recent high school graduates who meet three qualification methods based on College Promise requirements. Students can enter the program and complete their high school diploma as well.
Our program is designed to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible, training students in the basics of independent living with daily support and advocacy from a multidisciplinary on-site time team. Living in a college dormitory-style setting, resident advisors (RAs) will be available 24/7 and assist with crisis intervention, mentoring, advocacy, problem solving, job training, and financial education.
With guidance from case managers, students establish a case plan with a minimum of three goals in areas such as academic progress, employment, housing, graduation, substance abuse, and overall health. The Case Managers help escort students to appointments and important events, assist with placement and paperwork, and connect the students to partner agencies. The program works with students to improve interpersonal skills, provide educational opportunities, assist with job preparation, and ensure that physical and mental health care needs are met. The students have access to our food pantry and have opportunities to participate in activities such as field trips, workshops, and school events.
The impact of the CHESS Program is measured by the following outcomes:
- Improved academic success: GPA of 2.0 or better is required by the program.
- Improvement in the practice of healthy behaviors and decrease in risk-taking behaviors such as substance use, self-harm, unsafe sex practices and criminal behaviors.
- Increased internal strengths including social, physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
- Increase in access to housing options upon graduation from the program.
“I had no place to go. I was crashing at friend’s houses and sleeping wherever I could. The life I was living was rough. I’m not sure how long that would have lasted, and I was trying to go to classes, but it was like, impossible. I was so stressed that I could not focus on school or grades. Now, I’ve got a place to live and some people really care about me there. They helped me get out of the mess. I’m going to school and I can get a good job and get my own place someday.”