The goal of the Los Angeles Youth Network’s Supportive Services is to prepare youth for a life of self sufficiency, through the use of youth centered assessments and interventions and ensure that youth are provided effective case management, mental health and counseling, family reunification, after care support and various recreational/enrichment activities.
LAYN takes a comprehensive approach to providing supportive services to homeless youth. In a single year, LAYN will provide an average of over 300 service linkages through case management. Through case management services, LAYN will offer over 200 hours of life skills workshops annually. Our clinical and program teams work diligently to ensure that youth receive the greatest level of clinical support necessary to move ahead. To supplement these services, we offer a great balance of recreational activities for the youth which often involve team sports and/or outdoor activities. We also often find that there is a need for continued support after the youth exit our programs, therefore we provide family reunification and after care services. We are committed for the long haul. Our team functions under the belief that all youth deserve the chance to be prepared for a successful, productive adulthood, and therefore will embrace and not discriminate against any youth regarding their race, gender, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and personal beliefs.
Case Management at LAYN looks holistically at the many needs of homeless youth who come through our doors: housing, healthcare, educational guidance, job development, life skills development, and mental health—everything that a parent or guardian would normally navigate. Each youth is assessed for their individual needs and works with their case manager to identify goals and the steps and resources needed to reach them. Our case managers are well-informed and connected with the community in order to help link youth with resources available to them. In our temporary emergency shelters, the focus is often on triage and safety. In our long-term facilities—our group home and transitional living program—the case management team has more time to help the youth develop their character and further, work in-depth to equip them with everything the youth will need to become self-sufficient.
Mental Health and Counseling Services
Each youth responds to mental health support and counseling; consequently, LAYN provides many options for accessing our extensive mental health and counseling staff. Individual psychotherapy and life coaching sessions are available to all of our youth. At the emergency facilities, the mental health staff spend time with the youth and engage them during activities and outings and also offer this service during “drop-in hours” whenever a youth needs to talk. Mental health staff also conduct psycho-educational groups covering topics such as “stress management,” “coping skills,” “dealing with anger,” and “positive relationships.” Whenever needed, mental health staff also provide various group interventions and conflict resolution. Trained residential counselors are always present to support the youth at the emergency facilities and group home and provide individual support on a daily basis.
After Care and Family Reunification
At LAYN, we believe in a “model of care” that supports the youth from the moment they first contact us until long after they have graduated. The emergency shelter facilities and transitional living program have aftercare specialists that create individualized plans with each youth before they leave so that the youth will have identified supportive staff to contact if they find themselves in need after exiting. Youth are encouraged to maintain connection with our aftercare specialists so that we can continue to provide support, referrals, and guidance even if they are no longer residing with us. We contact each youth 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, and one year after they leave. Many youth create such a strong bond with the LAYN program and staff that they continue to “drop-in” during the day to say hello, use a computer, have a meal, and catch the staff up on what they’ve been up to.
In addition, LAYN works to reunify youth with their guardians whenever it is safe and appropriate, as studies show that this creates the optimal long-term support system. Our reunification team is trained on a family problem solving curriculum (S.T.R.I.V.E.—“Support To Reunite and Value Each Other”) which can be delivered in-home to help families resolve their problems. Research demonstrates that this intervention reduces runaway behavior and high-risk behavior in youth. This intervention teaches families concrete skills for communicating, coping, and solving problems. As about 40% of our youth identify as LGBTQ and have recently left or been kicked out of their homes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, our reunification team has a special emphasis on serving LGBTQ youth and their families.
Because many of our youth have difficulty engaging with traditional mental health services and counseling, LAYN has a full-time Creative Arts Therapist who develops and facilitates activities that are fun, interactive, and thought-provoking, which serve therapeutic functions in a way that is accessible and youth friendly. This might mean folding origami, writing a play, practicing yoga, going to the beach (many of our youth have never seen the ocean despite living in Los Angeles), or creating a mural. The Creative Arts Therapist also connects the youth to events happening in the community so that the youth have new experiences and feel connected to the vibrant city around them.
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