We are a learning organization with a strong commitment to continually deepen our understanding of our young people with the primary goal to improve our care and services.
The young people who come to us are often fleeing dangerous and life-threatening situations. Many of them have endured painful experiences that can cause trauma and affect their development and mental health. We are making strides to measure levels of trauma and determine how our staff, programs, and services are assisting our young people in stabilizing their crisis and moving forward in a positive life progression.
We have also found it is essential to understand their unique qualities, talents, skills, and resilience levels. We believe starting with their unique and individual strengths, provides them with the leverage to heal and advance in their life’s goals.
Runaway and homeless youth suffer disproportionately from painful legacies of trauma stemming from family disruption and abandonment, sexual and physical abuse, human trafficking, involvement in the foster care system, family involvement with the criminal justice systems and life on the street.
To better understand each young person’s past a number of assessment tools are utilized to help them with the issues they face.
One such tool is the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire. This tool asks a series of 10 questions with one point given for each yes answer. The points are added up giving an ACE score. The ACE score is then used to inform our service approach and plan.
Because of the relatively high ACE score of our clients, it is critical that all staff and all interventions incorporate trauma-informed care to ensure that our programs are effective in reaching our young people.
60% said they had experienced emotional abuse.
61% said they had experienced physical abuse.
36% said they had experienced domestic violence
29% said they had experienced sexual abuse.
16% identify themselves as LGBTQ.
52% said drugs were used in their home.
54% self-identify as having a mental health issue.
46% said they had been kicked out of their home.
There are, however, a number of circumstances that significantly increase the risk of a young person becoming homeless. The majority of the young people we have served have experienced more than one factor. Following are some of the more significant factors.
According to the Voices of Youth Count Study:
“All my friends looked like their parents…I didn’t have baby pictures, so I didn’t know who I looked like.”Read More
At 31 years old, Mike has seen his share of injustice. Growing up in Atlantic City in a home with limited resources, dysfunction, and disruption, he landed in a juvenile justice facility at a young age due to selling drugs to have money to live.Read More
For months Jeremiah had lived with an unsupportive family member and worked a “going nowhere” job. He said coming to Covenant House New Jersey was the motivation he needed to get serious about his life.Read More
I think I was fitted for this work. I know the fear and anger and bitterness and sadness being homeless and young can bring you. I know the heaviness of not knowing what’s going to happen next. But I also know that there is hope. That, with the right support, there is always hope.Read More
Are you a youth in need of help?