Magazine article USA TODAY

The Best Way to Help Them Is Hardly Ever Used

Magazine article USA TODAY

The Best Way to Help Them Is Hardly Ever Used

Article excerpt

Teens without homes, many of whom have suffered at the hands of those entrusted with providing them care and kindness, often refuse to seek warmth and nourishment at shelters, but a study by Natasha Slesnick, professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, Columbus, indicates that drop-in centers--safe havens with fewer rules and no older adults--could open doors to jobs, sobriety, and housing that is safe and secure.

"Many kids won't go to shelters because they're hiding on the street. They're avoiding the service system because they've been abused and betrayed by everyone who is supposed to love them," says Slesnick, who is founder and executive director of Star House, a drop-in center not far from campus that serves more than 800 young people a year. 'They're fearful of being preyed upon by older people at shelters, and the paperwork can be overwhelming."

The study included 79 youth, all of whom were assigned an advocate whose job it was to focus on the individual's needs and goals and to help connect the person to the right services. The advocates tried to link half of the youth to a drop-in center and the other half to a crisis shelter. …

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