A new program from the family and children’s center in La Crosse County is looking for people willing to help provide shelter to homeless youth. Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien explains how the program will fulfill a growing need in the community.
The host homes for homeless youth program is all about providing stability to kids ages 16 to 21. When they’re in the situation they’re worrying about being homeless. And a kid that’s 16, 17, 18, kind of becoming an adult, they should be worrying about their homework.
The program differs from foster care because it’s entirely voluntary for the youth, and they take the time to find the perfect fit for a home. “I get to know the host, I get to know the youth, and so then I get to work with the youth and say, “Alright this is what I know about you, this is what I think that you are interested in, in a host home. These are the hosts that would be compatible with you.”
According to the Wisconsin department of public instruction, there were about 250 students in La Crosse County last school year that identified as having unstable housing. The school district of La Crosse works with about one hundred homeless students.
“I can’t imagine what it would be to be a fifteen year old in a classroom and not know where you’re going to sleep that night, much less if you’re even going to have dinner. What research tells us is every time a child moves when they are in duress or crisis, they lose four to six months of academic growth. Definitely academically we see increased concerns as well as social, emotionally. Even after the child is placed in a host home, a social worker from the family and children’s center will meet with them every other week to help them move toward a more stable and independent living situation.”
Host homes can expect their utility and grocery bills to increase, but no other expenses are required. They’ll also be provided with training. In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien, Fox 25 48 News at 9.
If you’re interested in serving as a host home, you can visit FCConline.org.