“Josie is a pleasant and positive 16 year old girl who is just like the other students in her classes. She is maintaining her school work but is having difficulty with attendance and homework completion and there is a reason for that, one that is beyond the typical teenage issues around motivation and procrastination. Josie was escorted into my office on a Friday morning by a caring staff member. She was anxious and uncomfortable. She had not met me before and here she was having to discuss with me her home situation. Josie and I sat down and I asked what I could do to help her… she stated flatly that she had no place to go that evening. Her parents were divorced, mom was no longer welcoming her home and her father did not have a place of his own where she could stay. She had no options and asked me if there was anything I could recommend to her. (I am the homeless liaison in our district and this conversation seemed to be happening more and more frequently with students aged 14 and up. I had a similar conversation with a young man just the day before.) I helped Josie problem solve some of the issues facing her and we worked through- with the help of our guidance counselors, her teachers and our administrative assistants- a very short-term solution to her dilemma. But this is a problem that is facing our youth all too regularly and there are not enough options for students to be in a safe and supportive living situation. What can we do to change this?” -Homeless Liaison, MSAD 60
Like most communities throughout Maine, we are seeing an increased need for family and youth housing in our district. There are a variety of reasons why the situations are occurring; from the number of social services that are being cut due to state-level funding issues to the increased concerns around instability and substance abuse in families. On any given day there are students in the MSAD 60 community who have no place to call home. They may be staying short term with family members, sleeping on a friend’s couch, or living in a shelter. This problem is particularly challenging for teens, who are often not welcome in family shelters. Often the family structure is broken and teens are left without support. When children are homeless they face hunger, sleeplessness, lack of access to healthcare, inadequate clothing, transportation challenges and potentially unsafe environments. All of these factors have a profound negative impact on school attendance and success.
We are on a mission to change this situation. We believe that we can make a difference in the lives of youth and young adults who have no stable place to be. We have developed host homes in our community to serve students ages 14-17 and we are currently working to increase those numbers. We also are working to fundraise to develop a program within the Ryan Home, which was purchased on May 29, 2018 after an incredibly fast and successful fundraising campaign that topped $130,000 in five months! That program will serve youth and young adults aged 18-21 who are connected with the MSAD 60 school system. Please feel free to reach out to Susan Austin, Director, at theryanhomeproject@ gmail. com for more information!
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