For over 40 years, YouthCare has been the leading provider of services for homeless youth and young adults ages 12-24 in Seattle/King County. Established in 1974 as a 3-bed shelter for runaway and homeless youth, YouthCare has since grown to 13 sites serving over 1400 youth every year.
YouthCare has led the way—both locally and nationally—in spearheading innovative and effective programs for the most vulnerable youth in our community:
- Young people escaping sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse;
- Young people exiting our foster care or juvenile justice system without resources or support; and
- Young people whose lives have been shaken by poverty and racism—and who can’t afford basic needs because of skyrocketing rents and stagnant wages.
YouthCare helps each and every youth who walks through our door to stabilize, transform, and thrive. We do this through the RHYA.
YouthCare runs four RHYA-funded programs: Isis, the first and only housing program in Seattle focusing on the unique needs of LBGTQ youth; Passages and Pathways, the only transitional living program for homeless minors in King County, and a two-year transitional living program for young adults ages 18-21; and Adolescent Emergency Shelter, a 24/7 temporary shelter for unaccompanied minors ages 12-17. RHYA also funds our Street Outreach Team, which is our first line of defense in preventing sexual exploitation and long-term homelessness. Last year, our Outreach Team helped over 200 homeless youth on the streets connect to resources and services.
RHYA is the only dedicated funding stream for runaway and homeless youth. It is also the only federal funding source that is youth-focused and uniquely tailored to the needs of homeless young people. Rather than holding youth to the same standards as adults, RHYA program outcomes are developmentally appropriate, and reflect best practice for youth. Our RHYA programs help youth connect to education and employment training, establish healthy relationships, cultivate life skills, and find stable housing. In 2015, 62% of young people living in our transitional housing exited our programs into stable housing.
Young people like Sierra who entered our Passages program after years of chronic homelessness and sexual exploitation. Once at Passages, Sierra was determined to never return to the streets again. Every morning she’d wake up at 4:30am so she could make the bus for her 6:00am barista shift. By the time she moved out of Passages, she had saved enough money to move into a one-bedroom apartment in South King County. These days, she works at a bakery in the morning and as a home care aid at night. She recently bought her first car so that she “never has to get up early to ride the bus again!”
Our RHY programs position us as local leaders and experts in the area of homeless and runaway youth—and make us more competitive in securing private dollars. In 2017, we have a 13.5 million dollar budget due in part to our ability to leverage RHY dollars with private funds.
Each young person arrives at YouthCare with a story, and a dream worth dreaming. We intersect with young people at a time in their lives that is rife with trauma—but also filled with curiosity and hope about the future. Nothing means more than the future of our young people. That’s why we need and love RHYA.