Collaboration Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community

In a national study on youth homelessness, it was discovered that LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to become homeless than their heterosexual peers. The prejudice and bigotry that many LGBTQ+ youth face can come from their family, friends or people in their community. The rejection that they receive can lead them to develop anxiety, fall into depression, and – as the statistics show – end up on the streets. All across the country, youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are being stigmatized, discriminated against, and targeted for violent acts every day.  

60% of Homeless Youth in Jacksonville Identify as LGBTQ+

Youth that identify as LGBTQ+ make up 40% of the population of homeless youth in the United States. However, Jacksonville’s rate is higher than the national average, at 60%. A national assessment found that LGBTQ+ youth face greater hardships when they are homeless compared to non-LGBTQ+ youth. They experience higher rates of assault, trauma, the exchange of sex for basic needs, and early death. The rate of early death for LGBTQ+ youth is twice the rate of death for other youth. In some cases LGBTQ+ youth avoid shelters altogether, either because of the limited space or because of their gender identity, which shelters use to regulate the separation of accommodations.

Youth Crisis Center Provides a Beacon of Hope for Homeless LGBTQ+ Youth

The Youth Crisis Center, in collaboration with JASMYN and Changing Homelessness, is working to give LGBTQ+ youth of Jacksonville a safe place to help with their transition into the world. The House of Hope is an emergency homeless shelter specifically for LGBTQ+ youth ages 18-24 who are being stigmatized, discriminated against or are targets of violence. Through a generous gift of $100,000 from The Chartrand Family Fund, YCC is able to begin restorations to its former residential shelter.

Additionally, community supporters raised another $95,500, which was matched by the Delores Barr Weaver Fund matching grant challenge for a total of $191,000. These funds will go toward the first year operational budget of $243,200. We invite you to contribute to help close the gap on the last $52,200 needed to open the House of Hope! This desperately needed emergency LGBTQ+ homeless shelter is set to open this year.

“The YCC House of Hope will be a beacon to young people who have had the crushing experience of alienation from family support,” explained Delores Barr Weaver. “We need to embrace them so that they may gain the footing they need to be productive, good citizens in our community.”

The House of Hope Will Transform Lives

YCC’s House of Hope will be the first LGBTQ+-specific emergency homeless shelter for youth in the Jacksonville area. The shelter will include nine bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining hall, private counseling room, life skills training space, sanctuary garden, and communal gathering spaces. Opportunities are now available to adopt a room in the House of Hope. During their stay, staff will help the youth focus on life skills training, mental health counseling, receiving access to medical care, a connection for stable housing, academic monitoring and support, and career development training.

“The collaboration between these three organizations has the potential to leverage and sustain a broad range of solutions that help homeless youth find stable housing and LGBTQ+-responsive services,” said JASMYN executive director Cindy Watson.

You’re Not Alone

There are millions of stories of youth across the country that come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Each story has a different outcome, but ultimately, it helps other LGBTQ+ youth know they are not alone. YCC will provide services not only to the youth who seek shelter at the House of Hope but also to their families. Research shows that most LGBTQ+ youth don’t become homeless in the immediate aftermath of coming out, but as a result of family instability and frayed relationships that happen over time. YCC hopes June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month will provide an additional opportunity to bring attention to the House of Hope as supporters campaign for equal rights, celebrate gender identity, sexual orientation, and connect with others in the LGBTQ+ community.

The goal of the House of Hope is to provide LGBTQ+ youth with everything they need to truly be themselves and live a happy life without the worries of rejection or bullying. They will be provided with a safe place to stay where their physical, emotional and mental well-being needs are cared for. Click to learn more about Youth Crisis Center, or to donate in support of the new House of Hope emergency homeless shelter. Tours of YCC and the House of Hope are open to the public; please call (904) 446-4966 to schedule.

If you or a youth in your family would like to talk to someone, there is no shame in getting help. YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.+

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Family Support is Key

Every crisis is different, just like each family’s experience within it. It is unfortunate that families today face a barrage of experiences that can result in a family crisis: death, divorce, addiction, relocation, mental illness, unemployment…the list goes on. There is no “typical” family crisis, just as there is no “typical” family. A crisis within a family can impact not only the family unit but also affect each member uniquely.

Heightened family tensions can cause family members to experience a variety of psychological issues, such as hostile behavior, difficulty thinking clearly, feelings of numbness or hopelessness, impulsive behavior, dwelling on meaningless activities, or low self-esteem. A family crisis disturbs the normal functioning of everyone in the family and requires a change in response to the stressor.

Elements of a Family Crisis

Even the happiest families can experience a crisis. Ideally, family members will always support one another in times of need. However, living up to this expectation isn’t always the reality, whether because of long work hours, conflicting schedules or personal issues. There are four elements that can lead to a family crisis, and when two or more of the elements are present, a family is likely to move into a state of crisis:

  • Experiencing a stressful situation: This can be anything that causes tensions to grow within the family, such as divorce, death, unplanned pregnancy, incarceration, or even a child protective services investigation.
  • Inability to cope: When a family is having a hard time accepting or dealing with the crisis at hand, a breakdown starts to occur in the family dynamic. Family members may blame each other, become argumentative, feel overwhelmed or hopeless, or stop communicating altogether.
  • Chronic difficulty meeting basic responsibilities: This could be anything from a parent not being present in their child’s everyday life to being unable to provide basic needs to survive, like food, shelter or protection.
  • No sources of support: Families that don’t support one another are at high risk of experiencing a crisis. When they are unable to rely on other family members, friends or neighbors, they are isolating themselves and eliminating support systems.

Stages of a Family Crisis

A family crisis has three stages: onset, disorganization and reorganization. Whether it’s something that happens unexpectedly, an underlying issue that has been waiting to surface, or the inability to adapt to change, each crisis will be characterized by these three stages.  

  • Onset: The family starts to realize that there is a crisis. Family members may present denial or disbelief about the situation. In this stage, it’s important for the family to identify the problem and accept that they need to make a change.
  • Disorganization: This is a family’s lowest point. Chaos from the crisis is in full effect, causing family members to feel helpless, anxious, agitated and vulnerable. Tensions are rising and family members may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
  • Reorganization: This is when the family takes action. They have identified the problem, accepted the need to make a change, and are working to overcome the crisis.

When to Get Help

Remember, a crisis doesn’t always have to have a negative outcome; it can be a time for the family to build stronger bonds, work on their problem-solving skills, or develop better coping methods. If the family is unable to come to terms with a crisis, or needs help resolving their issues, they should seek assistance. Family therapy can help a family understand each other better, prioritize communication, manage expectations, and address individual issues. There’s no shame in getting help. When all is said and done, you’ll be thankful you took action to rebuild your family.

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Teens across the country are worried about depression and anxiety. Even if they aren’t suffering themselves, they say they are concerned about their friends who are struggling. According to the Pew Research Center, 7 in 10 teens see depression as a major problem among their peers. Concerns about mental health issues among the young are cutting across gender, racial and socio-economic lines, resulting in roughly equal shares of teens admitting it is a growing problem among their peer groups.

Identifying Depression in Children

Timely recognition and treatment for children can change, or even save, their lives. Depression consists of persistent feelings of sadness, irritability and hopelessness. This can drastically affect the way one feels, thinks and acts. Quite often, depression is not diagnosed or treated in children because the symptoms are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during development. Research shows that about 60 percent of children living with depression are not receiving any form of treatment.

Depression in children presents itself differently than it does in adults, often causing it to be easily missed. Children may not have the emotional maturity or ability to talk about their feelings as an adult might. Symptoms will vary from child to child, but most children with depression will display a noticeable change in their academics, social life and/or self-esteem.

Common Symptoms of Depression in Children Include:

  • Bodily symptoms (restlessness, stomachaches, headaches or digestive issues)
  • Increased irritability
  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Withdrawal from family, friends or activities they once enjoyed
  • Drastic changes in sleep or appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased fatigue and low energy
  • Frequent outbursts or temper tantrums

What Causes Depression in Children?

Genetics and the environment both play a huge role in causing depression in children. With a child who has depression, they will have persistent feelings of sadness, irritability, hopelessness and worthlessness that can be caused by different factors in their life. Children with a family history of violence, substance abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse are at a greater risk of depression than those without.

Other Common Causes of Depression in Children Include:

  • Physical illness (such as diabetes, epilepsy or cancer)
  • Harmful environment (community or home)
  • Family history of depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Stressful life events
  • The loss of a loved one

Statistics of Depression in Children

Research shows that 3.2 % of children ages 3-17 in the United States have been diagnosed with depression – that’s 1.9 million children. When a child has depression, it’s very common for them to have another type of disorder as well. About 3 in 4 children with depression also have anxiety, whereas roughly half of children with depression exhibit behavior problems. As age increases, the likelihood of being diagnosed with depression, anxiety or behavior problems increases, too.

Get Your Child the Help They Need at the Youth Crisis Center

When a child’s everyday routine is disturbed by their depressive symptoms, it’s time to get them help. YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term outpatient counseling services for families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing any concerns that disrupts the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Our therapists have master’s degrees and extensive experience in a wide range of family and youth concerns that include depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic behavior problems, homelessness, running away, poor academic performance, and truancy.

Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Is Your Child Stressed?

Everyone has felt stressed out at one time or another. Whether it’s feeling overwhelmed at work, financial pressures, family drama or schoolwork overload, we’ve all been faced with that sense of “It’s just too much to handle.” Most of us have learned to take a breath, have a good cry, take it out at the gym, or blow off steam with friends. We learn these self-soothing techniques through time and experience. It’s important to know how to handle the impact of stress. Its effects can be unhealthy and dangerous. Studies show that girls are feeling the dangerous effects of stress at a younger age than ever before.

Shifting the Focus

Psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour addresses the pressures that young girls are facing from today’s society today in her book, “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.” Damour explains the unrealistic picture the media paints of what girls should aspire to be. This often causes stress and anxiety because the girls don’t feel like they will ever live up to those standards. Damour believes the battle against the messages of beauty the media is sending to young girls starts with their parents. If parents make a point to shift the focus to the girls’ creativity, cleverness, or how interesting they are, it’ll send a different message to their daughter.

“There are unique pressures that girls face,” said Damour. “They are achieving unbelievable things these days, and yet, they know they are still judged heavily on how they look.” By focusing on the non-superficial aspects, parents can build up confidence in their daughters based on her abilities and intelligence, not on how she looks. This can help diminish the stress and anxiety that society has fostered in young girls.

It’s Part of the Growing Process

Damour makes a call to action for young girls experiencing stress and anxiety, asking them to make it a part of their growing process. The feelings they experience aren’t setbacks, but simply opportunities to gain insight and knowledge about themselves. She encourages parents to explain to their children that stress and anxiety is a healthy way of showing that they need to pay attention to challenges in their life, rather than a problem that needs to be eliminated. 

Signs & Potential Causes Your Child Is Anxious or Stressed

Anxiety and stress levels have risen among young people overall, but studies show that it has skyrocketed in young girls. Teens’ stress levels far exceed what doctors consider healthy, and they top the average reported stress levels in adults. Jessica Beal, Youth Crisis Center Family Link Therapist, says that most of the children she works with have these common stressors:

  • Pressure to perform well in school
  • Feeling different from their peers
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Chaotic home life

Developing a personal awareness of what triggers stress and anxiety is key for youth to learn how to cope with those triggers. But, how do you know if your child is experiencing stress? With hectic schedules and long work hours, the warning signs of stress or anxiety in your child can often go unnoticed. Here are a few common indicators of stress in children that Beal observes:

  • Stomach aches and headaches
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Agitation or “shutting down”
  • Non-stop fidgeting
  • Racing thoughts or an inability to focus

Developing a Support Network Is Key

“No matter what age, a good support network can make a big difference in how secure someone feels in their ability to cope with stress and anxiety,” says Beal. “Children in particular are a lot more confident in themselves, and their decision making, when they know they have people in their corner to root them on.”

The first step to dealing with anxiety is acknowledging that you are not alone. You don’t have to struggle in silence. While working with families in the Family Link program, Beal helps each family member develop a support network. Whether it’s school staff members, extended family members or friends, having someone to reach out to when help is needed can make all the difference.

The Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 720-0007.

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“ 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

A 2017 study estimated that 1,720 children in the United States died that year from abuse and neglect. Of those fatalities, 72 percent of the children were younger than three years old. Prevention of these types of tragedies is why the Youth Crisis Center is promoting National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month helps spark a conversation about how we can keep our children safe and give them a childhood free of violence. When the initiative first began, National Child Abuse Prevention Month was focused on the recognition and prevention of abuse. Now, the efforts have widened to include promoting healthy parenting and strong families through education and community support.

Parents or legal guardians are responsible for creating a positive environment in which children deserve to grow up. However, millions of children are abused, neglected and mistreated by those trusted adults. Child abuse can come in many different forms: physical, sexual, verbal or psychological. Child neglect can also present as psychological, emotional or medical neglect. Many of the children experiencing mistreatment by their caregivers have overlapping areas of abuse and neglect.

Risk Factors

There are some well-known risk factors that may increase the likelihood of child abuse, such as substance abuse, financial issues, or history of domestic violence. However, some risk factors might not be as obvious. Research shows there are certain caregiver or environmental characteristics that can lead to a greater risk of child abuse.

  • Stress: Whether stress stems from long days at work, loss of income, health issues, death, relocation, divorce or other issue, it plays a big role in child abuse. Stress heightens conflict in the family and increases tension. Without coping skills or similar resources for support, family members may take out their stress on one another.
  • Mental illness: People who are suffering from a mental illness, such as depression or bipolar disorder, can act out, become distant or withdraw from their children without knowing why. They might have a hard time taking care of themselves, thereby making caring for children much more difficult.
  • Age: Many young parents don’t realize how much time and effort truly goes in to taking care of a child until they have one of their own. These parents may become angry with their children because of what they had to give up to care for them.
  • Community violence: When someone is repeatedly exposed to violence, they are more likely to mimic that behavior. Whether the caregiver grew up in a violent household or witnessed violence on the streets, a vicious cycle can begin.

Early Interventions Lead to Healthier, Happier Families

Mother of four, Nakeicha Dawson, knew that her family was in trouble. With the children constantly fighting, it was hard to find a sense of stability within their family. When a therapist from the Youth Crisis Center visited her children’s school, Nakeicha realized that this was the help she had been hoping for. After attending a few counseling sessions with a therapist from YCC’s Family Link Program, her daughter Jaryonne’s attitude began to change for the better. In addition to Family Link, Nakeicha, Jaryonne, and other children in the family participated in YCC’s SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) program, through which they learned conflict-prevention techniques as a family. This drastically decreased their fighting. The household calmed down tremendously to help build a better family atmosphere.

SNAP is for boys and girls ages 6-11. This 13-week program teaches children with behavioral issues, and their parents, how to effectively manage their emotions and reduce the chance of conflict. “Until you’ve done everything possible to help your child, you’re not helping the situation,” said Nakeisha to parents who are considering participation in YCC’s programs. “No risk, no reward. Taking that first step can change your life forever.” Both Family Link and SNAP programs are free resources offered by YCC to help positively transform your family dynamics.

Do you have a child between the ages of 6-17 experiencing issues that disrupt the health and stability of the family? YCC’s Family Link program provides short-term, outpatient counseling services to families at no cost. These services are available to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family.

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“ 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family”

April 8-12 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week

This year, the second week of April is dedicated to the National Youth Violence Prevention Campaign. Around 200,000 homicides occur annually worldwide among youth between the ages of 10-29. According to the World Health Organization, that makes up 43% of the total number of global homicides each year. For those who are lucky enough to survive a violent attack, most will require hospitalization and be affected by lifelong psychological damage.

The goal of the weeklong National Youth Violence Prevention initiative is to raise awareness to educate students, school staff, parents and the general public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth violence in communities across the country.

Deferment Programs vs. Arrest Records

Jacksonville, Florida, is working to reduce youth violence by intervening at the earliest sign a youth may be in trouble. The deferment program, called the Civil Citation Program, is offered through the Fourth Judicial Circuit for qualified juvenile offenders.

The Civil Citation Program allows law enforcement and juvenile justice stakeholders to issue a citation to qualified juvenile offenders to join the program rather than being arrested and entering the criminal justice system. The purpose of this program is to increase public safety by assessing and referring at-risk, qualified juvenile offenders to intervention programs while also reducing recidivism.

Signs an Individual May Be At Risk for Youth Violence

  • attention deficit, hyperactivity, conduct disorder or other behavioral disorders
  • involvement in crime
  • early involvement with alcohol, drugs and tobacco
  • low commitment to school and school failure
  • unemployment
  • exposure to violence in the family

Teen Court Holds Teens Accountable  

After a teen is issued a civil citation, it’s forwarded to the Court Administration Teen Court Director and reviewed to determine which curriculum, under the Civil Citation Program, is most appropriate for that youth. From there, the case will be handled by the Teen Court or one of Jacksonville’s Neighborhood Accountability Boards. Youths are then held accountable for their crimes and are required to complete community service hours and other sanctions that could include individual and family counseling, early intervention, letters of apology or academic monitoring.

This program promotes accountability, immediate intervention and prompt consequences for the qualified juvenile offenders. “This expanded program provides swifter accountability and intervention through smart justice –  a benefit to juveniles and taxpayers alike,” said Melissa Nelson, State Attorney for the Fourth Circuit.

Youth Crisis Center Provides Diversion Opportunity

The diversion programs offered by YCC can be completed either through its Outpatient Behavioral Health program or Residential Crisis Care program. Throughout six different programs, YCC provides short-term crisis care, mental health counseling, family therapy, and transitional living services for young adults. “The Youth Crisis Center has been a readily accessible resource for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) for many years,” said JSO Assistant Chief Adam Pendley. “The services that YCC offers enhance law enforcement efforts by getting to the root cause of what influences youth violence, and transforms their lives by providing them with the help and intervention at an early age.”

Taxpayer Savings

The Civil Citation Program saves taxpayer dollars by producing cost-effective outcomes. Rather than arresting troubled youth, the Civil Citation Program works to identify and address the causes of their misbehavior and enacts disciplinary actions that will discourage them from completing future offenses. Upon successful completion of the requirements of the Civil Citation Program, there will be no arrest on their record.

The Civil Citation Program is important because it prevents life-long consequences associated with juvenile arrests, adjudication, or convictions. “Arrest and prosecution are a first thought for many who consider ways to fight violent crime, but it’s important to remember that arrest for some may do more harm than good,” insists Pendley. “These types of diversion programs, like the Civil Citation Program, still hold the offenders accountable, but in a more proactive way that helps them long term.”

Click to learn more about the Youth Crisis Center’s involvement with the Civil Citation Program.

Are you dealing with a crisis or unmanageable youth? The Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program provides short-term residential services and therapy for youth ages 10-17. Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the youth return home. Click to fill out the Residential Crisis Care form on our website and a therapist will contact you, or call our crisis hotline at (904) 725-6662 to speak with someone immediately. Click more to learn about 8 ways to help your child cope with stress and anxiety.

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8 Ways to Help Your Child Cope With Stress and Anxiety

Youth Crisis Center Advocates for Funding from Florida Legislature

Children in Need of Help

Playful, spirited, fun and happy – these are the things that come to mind when you think of children. However, many children struggle to find a carefree youth; instead, they experience anger or behavioral issues that plague their everyday lives. “If left untreated – whether it’s due to lack of funding, resources or time – children could continue to display these aggressive traits throughout their life, which could be a disruption to their academic performance, relationships, and/or employment,” said Kim Sirdevan, Youth Crisis Center president and CEO. From her years of working in the mental health field and with children, Sirdevan knows how critical it is for young people to have a voice and to be heard regarding the mental health services they and their families need. 

YCC Requests Funding for SNAP® (Stop Now and Plan)

In February, Sirdevan traveled with Leila Sundstrom, chair of YCC’s board of directors, to Tallahassee for the bi-annual Executive Advisory Roundtable meeting. The Florida Network’s “Hill Day” gives Florida youth advocacy leaders the opportunity to meet with local legislators from their district to share and advocate for the needs of children as it pertains to Florida Statue 984.04 Children and Families in Need of Services. YCC is Northeast Florida’s sole service provider for these statutory services. Sirdevan and Sundstrom met with Sens. Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley and Audrey Gibson, along with Reps. Travis Cummings, Cord Byrd, Bobby Payne, Paul Renner and Clay Yarborough, to discuss funding for the Youth Crisis Center’s SNAP® program. SNAP stands for Stop Now and Plan, and aims at improving emotion-regulation, self-control and problem solving for youth and their parents.

Legislative Priorities

YCC was one of the first four sites that implemented SNAP® in Florida four years ago. These four sites receive recurring funding to continue successfully serving families and transforming lives. In 2018, The Florida Network was granted non-recurring funding from Florida legislature to expand SNAP® to an additional 17 sites across the state. However, since the funds are non-recurring for these new 17 sites, the programs are at risk if the funds are not continued or changed to recurring.

Sirdevan advocated for three requests from the Florida Network to Florida legislators at the Florida Network’s “Hill Day”:

  1. Provide Recurring Funding to Continue the SNAP® Program at the Department of Juvenile Justice for the last 17 sites implemented: The recurring funding will allow SNAP® to continue to serve families across the state of Florida. SNAP® has been proven to prevent antisocial behavior and reduce the chance of future conflict with authorities through providing timely and effective early intervention to the children and families in need.
  1. Expand the SNAP® Program to the Child Welfare Population/Department of Children and Families: SNAP® will be offered in five different areas of the state, including Youth Crisis Center, as a pilot program for children in foster care, if the funds are received. The hope is to stabilize placements, improve youth behavior, and prevent serious behavior problems by providing skills to both children in foster care and their caregivers.
  1. Provide Funding to Increase Pay to Staff Working Directly with Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: The Florida Juvenile Justice Association requested an increase in pay for staff working directly with youth. Finding and keeping quality staff has become increasingly difficult over time because of the lack of funding. The hope is that an increase in pay will assist in recruitment and retention efforts to stabilize this workforce.

“So many youth experience emotional struggles that can lead to isolation from their peers, frustration from their parents, or a label as the ‘bad kid’ in school,” worries Sundstrom. “As a mother of two children, I know how important it is to remember that before calling a child ‘bad’, all efforts need to be made to determine the root cause. That can’t be done without funding and access to qualified mental health professionals and programs.”

Additionally, Sirdevan requested funds for an expansion project for Touchstone Village Transitional Living program. YCC is proposing to open this transitional living program in Clay County through a partnership with Moosehaven. This program will provide housing, life skills training, career development training at Moosehaven, and mental health counseling services to homeless 18 year olds in Clay County.

SNAP® (Stop Now and Plan)

SNAP®, which stands for Stop Now and Plan, improves emotion-regulation, self-control and problem solving. It teaches children, ages 6-11, with behavioral problems, and their parents, how to make better choices “in the moment.” This is an internationally recognized, trauma-informed, cognitive-behavioral model with the primary goal of helping children stop and think before they act. Using evidence-based, and gender-sensitive information, SNAP® helps keep children in school and out of trouble. If you would like to learn more about this program, click here.

Are you dealing with a crisis or unmanageable youth? The Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program provides short-term residential services and therapy for youth ages 10-17. Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the youth return home. Click to fill out the Residential Crisis Care form on our website and a therapist will contact you, or call our crisis hotline at (904) 725-6662 to speak with someone immediately. Click more to learn about 8 ways to help your child cope with stress and anxiety.

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8 Ways to Help Your Child Cope With Stress and Anxiety

YCC On-Campus School Helps Students Get Back on Track

Too Far Gone

Craig* is 16 years old. He is looking toward his future and has decided he wants to get training to become a roofer. It’s a great job with a salary as high as $80,000 a year. The problem is, while students Craig’s age are getting ready to start their junior year or even graduate, he is still trying to complete the 6th grade. In his earlier years, Craig got off track. He started skipping school and getting in trouble. He’s out of trouble now, but those missed school days led to struggles with his grades. After falling behind in school, Craig was ashamed and embarrassed, and stopped trying. Craig, like many other young people, fell behind in the school system, gave up and dropped out.

Academic Monitoring and Support Leads to Success

Craig was court-ordered to the Residential Crisis Care program at Youth Crisis Center to address his truancy, as well as the issues that got him in trouble initially. During his stay at YCC he was enrolled at the on-campus school ran by the Duval County Public School system where youth, ages 10-17, are taught together with an age-appropriate curriculum. “For me – on my first day – I didn’t want to be there,” said Craig. “But when I actually started paying attention, it got better, because I was actually learning. The more you pay attention here, the more they’re going to want to teach you.”

The program’s teachers are all employees of the Duval County Public School system, but have an extra understanding of the challenges young people at YCC face. They recognize how the students’ struggles impact their ability to learn. “The teachers here go above and beyond for their students,” said Bertha Barrett, YCC Residential Intern Therapist. “Because of the one-on-one attention and controlled atmosphere, the students are able to focus and achieve academic goals. There is a boost in their self-esteem because they learn that they are capable of succeeding in school. Once they leave here, they have the confidence to continue in their regular school because they know they can do the work.”

 

A Typical YCC Student

The different issues plaguing the students’ lives, whether at home, school, or in the community, contribute to their truancy. They may not have the support system or encouragement to pursue an education. YCC understands these factors can contribute to a young person’s sense of shame and failure, so counselors and teachers work closely to ensure that students receive the one-on-one attention they wouldn’t normally get at their regular school, as well as build the skills needed to succeed.

Educators at YCC cater to each student’s individual learning styles and abilities, and they encourage students to do their best work. YCC’s teachers work hard to reach their students and make sure they fully understand the subject they’re learning before moving on. They address each problem the student may be having and work together to create solutions, so the student will be able to carry the skills they learn into the next steps of their schooling.

After his time at YCC, Craig now plans to complete his GED certificate and go to a trade school for roofing. “I always wanted to drop out of school, but now that I learned from smart teachers that care, it makes me want to do better,” said Craig. “They take their time to talk to me and make sure I understand. It makes me feel more focused and encouraged.” YCC helps many youth, just like Craig, realize their full potential and give them the confidence needed to succeed.

*Name changed to protect privacy

Are you dealing with a crisis or unmanageable youth? The Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program provides short-term residential services and therapy for youth ages 10-17. Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the youth return home. Click to fill out the Residential Crisis Care form on our website and a therapist will contact you, or call our crisis hotline at (904) 725-6662 to speak with someone immediately. Click more to learn about 8 ways to help your child cope with stress and anxiety.

 

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Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, which is a nationwide effort to raise awareness about abuse in teenage relationships and promote programs that educate young people on the importance of having a healthy relationship.

Hubbard House Teaches Teens the Importance of Healthy Relationships

Jacksonville’s Youth Crisis Center and Hubbard House first began their partnership in March 2018 to educate youth residing in YCC’s Residential Crisis Care program about the importance of healthy relationships. Hubbard House, serving Duval and Baker counties, is a full-service, certified, domestic violence center, responding to more than 91,000 hotline calls and providing shelter to more than 36,800 victims and their children in its 42-year history. 

Every other month, a Hubbard House Violence Prevention Facilitator for Youth spends two consecutive days at YCC facilitating the Couplets program, which was created by the One Love Foundation. The facilitator provides a safe, non-judgmental place for youth to open up about their relationships and any issues they may be experiencing. Youth are encouraged to first identify times when they could have been the abuser in relationships, exhibiting manipulative or disrespectful behaviors to their partner, so they can recognize how their actions affect others. The Hubbard House Violence Prevention Facilitator then educates them on how to recognize the warning signs of abuse in relationships and provides information on resources available for help.  

Prevention Eliminates Intervention

One in three teens will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship at some point in their life, whether it is from physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse. In the case of an unhealthy relationship, Hubbard House stresses the importance of prevention, which will stop the violence before it even has the chance to occur. If prevention is unsuccessful, an intervention will be called to involve counseling, medical care or the police. Teens can prevent unhealthy bonds from forming by discussing their relationships, learning conflict resolution skills, becoming educated on the warning signs of abuse, and taking advantage of available resources, if needed.

5 Warning Signs That a Relationship Could Be Unhealthy

Potential abusers may be:

  • Using manipulation to get what they want, convincing you to do something you may not want to do, or influencing your decisions.
  • Forcing isolation by making you choose between them and your family and friends.
  • Throwing in a guilt trip to make you feel like everything is your fault, or that you are solely responsible for their happiness.
  • Lashing out because of jealousy, or sabotaging your work, school or other relationships because they want to be the most important part of your life.
  • Making you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them because of unpredictable overreactions, which could come in the form of violent behavior, belittlement or extreme mood swings.

Teaching Youth Early Is Key

Many of the youth at YCC present risk factors that could lead to a potentially abusive relationship: violence at home, aggressive or angry behavior, and poor problem-solving skills. The important thing to remember is that even if a teen presents risk factors that can lead to an unhealthy relationship, it doesn’t mean they are doomed to be abused or become an abuser. With the right tools and support, teens can develop healthy, happy relationships. “How kids handle friendships and early relationships is going to set the tone for how they handle more serious relationships down the road,” said Laura Gilligan, Health Educator at National Health Corps Florida Program, who serves at Hubbard House. “If they can learn non-violent approaches to conflict resolution in middle school or high school, they’ll carry that with them for the rest of their life.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, the Hubbard House has highly trained advocates available 24/7 to talk with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship. Call (904) 354-3114 or go to their website to speak confidentially with an advocate today.

Are you dealing with a crisis or unmanageable youth? The Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program provides short-term residential services and therapy for youth ages 10-17. Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the youth return home. Click to fill out the Residential Crisis Care form on our website and a therapist will contact you, or call our crisis hotline at (904) 725-6662 to speak with someone immediately. Click more to learn about 8 ways to help your child cope with stress and anxiety.

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8 Ways to Help Your Child Cope With Stress and Anxiety

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

It sounds like the plot from a terrifying Hollywood thriller; a young girl runs away in an act of defiance and then disappears for years. Only it’s not the next blockbuster, it’s the real story of a young girl we will call A.G. Like many teenagers, A.G. had a rocky home life. She struggled with authority and didn’t feel wanted or loved. A.G. began talking to men online, and it didn’t take long to find one who said he would take of her. So, at just 14 years old, she left for what she hoped would be a better life in a place – where she was appreciated. A.G. thought she’d met her prince. He was sweeter than anyone she’d ever met, and bought her anything she wanted. She was falling for him. But then it all changed. He told her she needed to earn her keep by taking a job in a strip club. He kept her money and kept her locked in the basement.

The Escape

A.G. made a run for it one night while working at the club, but the person she thought was going to help her ended up forcing her and another woman to live in a motel and work as prostitutes. Customers would “set up appointments” with her rescuer, who was now her pimp. One “customer” agreed to help her escape and take her to his house to be safe. But this was no safe haven. This man, who was twice her age, would not let her leave. He forced her to have sex with him and kicked her out when she became pregnant. A.G. was under 18 years old and had been missing for three years. She found a way to call her family and they brought her home. Her grandparents, who were her legal guardians, could not care for her and a baby. Fearing she would leave again, they reached out to YCC’s Residential Crisis Care program. A.G. stayed at YCC for two months while she received schooling, therapy services, extracurricular activities, a safe place to sleep and nutritious meals. After moving from YCC into a maternity group home, A.G. gave birth to a healthy baby and found the support and stability she needed to make it through her life changing events.

The Rescue

“In A.G.’s case, I think the best place for her is a facility with the appropriate resources to provide her support,” said Ashton Crawford, Residential Clinical Supervisor for the Youth Crisis Center in Duval County, Florida. “I believe if she had gone back to her guardians, she would have run away again, possibly even with her baby.” Crawford provides therapy to young people like A.G. who have experienced traumatic situations such as divorce, homelessness, relocation, loss of life and abuse. YCC provides a variety of services for children, adolescents, young adults and families, and is one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families.

Crawford says a major issue therapists see in teens at risk for trafficking is significant feelings of abandonment, or feeling unloved or unwanted. Many times, this stems from parents who are substance abusers, or abuse and neglect their children. The risk is also higher in children who were abandoned by their biological parents and are being raised by another family member (not necessarily being adopted out). “It is important for parents or guardians to be significantly and positively involved in their children’s lives, monitor their social media usage, and teach them about the dangers of human trafficking in an age-appropriate way,” adds Crawford.

Human Trafficking In Northeast Florida

In 2017, Duval County ranked fifth in Florida for the number of cases involving commercially, sexually exploited children. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported that 66 human trafficking victims were “identified and/or rescued” in 2017, marking a 50 percent increase over the previous year. Human trafficking is the world’s second-largest criminal enterprise after narcotics, generating $150 billion dollars each year.  

Crawford taught A.G. how to think positively and helped her work through the feelings that made her run away in the first place. A.G. now has a strong support system in place and Crawford feels she will find a path to a better life for herself and her child.

Are you dealing with a crisis or unmanageable youth? The Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program provides short-term residential services and therapy for youth ages 10-17. Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the youth return home. Click to fill out the Residential Crisis Care form on our website and a therapist will contact you, or call our crisis hotline at (904) 725-6662 to speak with someone immediately. Click more to learn about 8 ways to help your child cope with stress and anxiety.

Download our FREE ebook!

8 Ways to Help Your Child Cope With Stress and Anxiety