MRFY Stakeholders Meeting March 2, 2012

Stakeholder’s Meeting

United Way of Dane County

March 2, 2012

 Summary Report

May 20, 2012

Meeting Overview

Make Room for Youth (MRFY) invited a group of local stakeholders to assist them with their continuing efforts to increase short-term shelter, transitional living, and permanent housing options for unaccompanied youth in Dane County. This meeting was held on March 2, 2012 at the United Way Building on Atwood Avenue in Madison.

The meeting had multiple purposes including: 1) to develop a shared understanding and commitment to addressing the unmet needs of unaccompanied youth; 2) to hear input from key stakeholders relative to the needs of unaccompanied youth; and 3) to gather information from participants to better inform MRFY’s work.

We wish to express our appreciation to Jeannette DeLoya for her expertise in helping us both plan the meeting and facilitate the discussion. Her exemplary leadership skills were evident throughout the process.

And finally, we wish to thank everyone who attended the meeting for sharing their time and expertise on behalf of unaccompanied youth!

With gratitude,

Bonnie Augusta, Casey Behrend, Jared Genova, Jani Koester, Mary Maronek, Amy Noble, Melissa Sargent

Executive Summary

 

During an inclusive discussion and information sharing process, the importance of addressing the unmet needs of unaccompanied youth came through loud and clear. The members of Make Room for Youth have committed to taking a lead role in improving the system of services for these youth. The mission of MRFY is as follows:  To make a positive difference in the lives of youth by developing and maintaining housing for unaccompanied youth ages 13-21 experiencing homelessness in Dane County.

Meeting participants identified and discussed important elements of a strategy to expand and enhance services for unaccompanied youth. These elements include:

  • Identification of stakeholders and potential partners
  • Effective education , outreach, and marketing to both stakeholders and the general public
  • Securing private and public resources to address unmet needs
  • Development of messages for our youthful clients that are sensitive to individual differences and respectful of each youth’s right to make their own choices
  • Highlighting the benefits of addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth including improved safety/health of youth and reducing the long-term need for publically funded services

The meeting concluded with an announcement by Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin of their intent to open a short-term shelter for unaccompanied youth during the next few years.

 

Participants in the March 2, 2012 Stakeholders Meeting

 

Melissa Sargent Dane County Supervisor
Jeannette Deloya Madison Metropolitan School District
Karen Larson Domestic Abuse Intervention Services
Robert Lee Dane County Department of Health and Human Services
Susan Baumann-Duren Sauk Prairie School District
Carole Klopp Spartan Youth Advisor-Memorial High School
Priya Kalluri Spartan Youth-Memorial High School
Kevin Chen SpartanYouth -Memorial High School
Bonnie Augusta Make Room for Youth
Julie Ahnen Dane County Department of Health and Human Services
Mary Kay Wills Dane County Department of Health and Human Services
Tim Michael Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools
Kristin Rucinski The Road Home
Lynn Green Dane County Department of Health and Human Services
Jared Genova Make Room for Youth
Rene’ Heiden Parent/Citizen
John Bauman Juvenile Court
Carol Nickels Mount Horeb Area School District
Amy Noble Madison Metropolitan School District
Mary O’Donnell City of Madison
Tamara Sutor Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District
Martha Cranley United Way
Alex Chen Spartan Youth-Memorial High School
Casey Behrend Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin
Tyler Schueffner Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin
Jan Lorch Madison Metropolitan School District
Jani Koester Madison Metropolitan School District
Tara Wallace Madison Metropolitan School District
Angela Jones United Way
Mary Maronek Make Room for Youth

 

 

 

Inclusion

After introductions the highlighted portions of the following Margaret Wheatly article were shared with the group.  It was used to acknowledge the confusion and complexity of the issue of unaccompanied youth and their needs in Dane County.  It was a way of presenting the issue without blame or expectation, but rather of wonder and concern.  It was used with the hope of being able to move forward with curiosity, creativity and compassion.

Willing to Be Disturbed

As we work together to restore hope to the future, we need to include a new and strange ally—our willingness to be disturbed. Our willingness to have our beliefs and ideas challenged by what others think. No one person or perspective can give us the answers we need to the problems of today. Paradoxically, we can only find those answers by admitting we don’t know. We have to be willing to let go of our certainty and expect ourselves to be confused for a time.

We weren’t trained to admit we don’t know. Most of us were taught to sound certain and confident, to state our opinion as if it were true. We haven’t been rewarded for being confused. Or for asking more questions rather than giving quick answers. We’ve also spent many years listening to others mainly to determine whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have time or interest to sit and listen to those who think differently than we do.

But the world now is quite perplexing. We no longer live in those sweet, slow days when life felt predictable, when we actually knew what to do next. We live in a complex world, we often don’t know what’s going on, and we won’t be able to understand its complexity unless we spend more time in not knowing.

It is very difficult to give up our certainties—our positions, our beliefs, our explanations. These help define us; they lie at the heart of our personal identity. Yet I believe we will succeed in changing this world only if we can think and work together in new ways. Curiosity is what we need. We don’t have to let go of what we believe, but we don need to be curious about what someone else believes. We do need to acknowledge that their way of interpreting the world might be essential to our survival.

We live in a dense and tangled global system. Because we live in different parts of this complexity, and because no two people are physically identical, we each experience life differently. It’s impossible for any two people to ever see things exactly the same. You can test this out for yourself. Take any event that you’ve shared with others (a speech, a movie, a current event, a major problem) and ask your colleagues and friends to describe their interpretation of that event. I think you’ll be amazed at how many different explanations you’ll hear. Once you get a sense of diversity, try asking even more colleagues. You’ll end up with a rich tapestry of interpretations that are much more interesting than any single one.

To be curious about how someone else interprets things, we have to be willing to admit that we’re not capable of figuring things out alone. If our solutions don’t work as well as we want them to, if our explanations of why something happened don’t feel sufficient, it’s time to begin asking others about what they see and think. When so many interpretations are available, I can’t understand why we would be satisfied with superficial conversations where we pretend to agree with one another.

There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This isn’t easy – I’m accustomed to sitting there nodding my head to those saying things I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more dearly, including my beliefs and assumptions.

Noticing what surprises and disturbs me has been a very useful way to see invisible beliefs. If what you say surprises me, I must have been assuming something else was true. If what you say disturbs me, I must believe something contrary to you. My shock at your position exposes my own position. When I hear myself saying, “How could anyone believe something like that?” a light comes on for me to see my own beliefs. These moments are great gifts. If I can see my beliefs and assumptions, I can decide whether I still value them.

I hope you’ll begin a conversation, listening for what’s new. Listen as best you can for what’s different, for what surprises you. See if this practice helps you learn something new. Notice whether you develop a better relationship with the person you’re talking with. If you try this with several people, you might find yourself laughing in delight as you realize how many unique ways there are to be human.

We have the opportunity many times a day, everyday, to be the one who listens to others, curious rather than certain. But the greatest benefit of all is that listening moves us closer. When we listen with less judgment, we always develop better relationships with each other. It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do curiosity and good listening bring us back together.

Sometimes we hesitate to listen for differences because we don’t want to change. We’re comfortable with our lives, and if we listened to anyone who raised questions, we’d have to get engaged in changing things. If we don’t listen, things can stay as they are and we won’t have to expend any energy. But most of us do see things in our life or in the world that we would like to be different. If that’s true, we have to listen more, not less. And we have to be willing to move into the very uncomfortable place of uncertainty.

We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for the new. Of course it’s scary to give up what we know, but the abyss is where newness lives. Great ideas and inventions miraculously appear in the space of not knowing. If we can move through the fear and enter the abyss, we are rewarded greatly. We rediscover we’re creative.

As the world grows more strange and puzzling and difficult, I don’t believe most of us want to keep struggling through it alone, I can’t know what to do from my own narrow perspective. I know I need a better understanding of what’s going on. I want to sit down with you and talk about all the frightening and hopeful things I observe, and listen to what frightens you and gives you hope. I need new ideas and solutions for the problems I care about. I know I need to talk to you to discover those. I need to learn to value your perspective, and I want you to value mine. I expect to be disturbed by what I hear from you. I know we don’t have to agree with each other in order to think well together. There is no need for us to be joined at the head. We are joined by our human hearts.

Wheatley, Margaret J. Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future San Francisco: Berrett-Koshler Publishers, Inc., 2002.

Participant comments after the reading of the highlighted portions were:

We don’t need to be afraid of change.

We do need to genuinely partner and support each other in this effort.

We all need to engage with people who disagree with us.

It’s difficult to realize and accept we can’t help everyone – we need to start small.

The number of identified unaccompanied youth appears “manageable”.

Don’t have accurate data on the number of unaccompanied youth because these youth often do not self-identify.

Traffickers of youth have more information and resources than system providers.

Telling the MRFY Story

Jani Koester and Amy Noble presented the history of MRFY and statistics concerning the issue of unaccompanied youth. The following is the “story” provided in print form to all participants, without the wonderful pictures:

The MRFY Story

In the fall of 2010, a few people with long time concerns about the safety of Unaccompanied Youth in Dane County, started a series of conversations that led to the first official gathering of what was to become Make Room For Youth.

The inaugural meeting was held on December 10, 2010 in Madison and present were Melissa Sargent, Bonnie Augusta, Jani Koester, Amy Noble, Jared Genova, Brian Juchems, Jeanne Schneider and Anne Hecht.

Other participants along the way have included Rene and Gus Heiden, Gayle Ihlenfeld, Jen Burkel, Frank Crisafi, Casey Behrend, Mary Maronek, Nicole Schulte and Pat Balke.

In the first meetings a name was given to these efforts and a mission was established.

Some might say the name Make Room For Youth was?selected for it’s acronym MRFY and how it would be ?pronounced; “Murphy”. This has the added bonus of? bringing up the image in older peoples minds of a Murphy?bed…. The name also expresses the need for the community to “Make Room” and open a place at the table for Unaccompanied Youth who have no place to go and no voice in the public arena.

Developing the mission was a collective process, a discussion about what the real issues are and what MRFY hopes to change in Dane County. There is no place for dozens of young people to stay that is safe, there is no shelter for teens and the adult shelters are not appropriate nor set up to serve young adults.

In the end the decision was made to endorse the following:

“Because every human being deserves a safe home, the mission of Make Room For Youth (MRFY) is to make a positive difference in the lives of youth by developing and maintaining housing for unaccompanied youth ages 13-21 experiencing homelessness in Dane County.”

ACCOMPLISHMENTS of MRFY in the first year include the following:?• Unaccompanied Youth are now named and included in the Community Plan to

Prevent and End Homelessness in Dane County, Wisconsin.

• Questions gathering information about Unaccompanied Youth were added to the biennial Dane County Youth Assessment.

• A renewed energy and focus on Unaccompanied Youth has emerged within Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin.

• Members and friends of MRFY are active participants in the Homeless Services Consortium, Dane County Youth Commission, and the Dane County Coordinated Community Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

•MFRY members have shared Information widely about how Unaccompanied Youth may apply for Food Share and are developing awareness related to accessing health care, school and other resources.

• MRFY members have participated in training about Unaccompanied Youth through a national advocacy organization (NAEHCY).

• Madison Metropolitan School District Transition Education Program (MMSD TEP) has begun participating in the annual winter HUD homeless point-in-time count. This one night census of unsheltered individuals now includes young homeless people attending Madison Schools. For the first time these students are recognized as existing by the Housing and Urban Development Department of the Federal Government.

• MRFY members are developing best practices within MMSD related to the enrollment and support of Unaccompanied Youth and are sharing these practices with the Homeless Education Network of Dane County (HENDC).

• Presentations to the MMSD Student Senate and the congregation of First Unitarian Society and have been made by MRFY members.

• On behalf TEP and with a focus on MRFY, an application for a By Youth For Youth Grant has been submitted and awarded.

• A community volunteer and a local church created awareness and raised funds for TEP with emphasis on Homeless Students and Unaccompanied Youth.

• MRFY has reached out to local and state government and community interests including Safe Families, the Madison Alliance Church, the Mayor’s Office, Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

• After very careful and deliberate discussion, MRFY decided to use Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin as their fiscal agent and Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin (YSOSW) and MRFY officially signed an agreement on November 9, 2011.

•The first donation consisted of an honorarium given to Liz Lusk and Bonnie Augusta for the The William and Joyce Wartmann Lecture on Human Sexuality and the Liberal Religious Tradition lecture in 2011.

MRFY continues to develop. The membership stands firmly committed to the mission and will continue to work together until there are enough safe places for youth to sleep at night in Dane County.

Amy Noble then presented the following statistics:

National Statistics (from National Runaway Switchboard)

  • Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year
  • Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets report their parents told them to leave or knew they left but did not care
  • 80% of runaway and homeless girls report having been sexually or physically abused
  • 12% of homeless youth spent at least one night outside, in a park, on the street, under a bridge or overhang, or on a rooftop
  • 32% of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives
  • 50% of homeless youth age 16 or older report having dropped out of school, having been expelled, or having been suspended

State of Wisconsin Statistics (from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, 2011 Midyear report: 1/1/2011 – 6/31/2011 Emergency Shelter)

  • 10,417 individuals in shelter.  This reflects a 9% increase over 2010
  • 2,292 Unaccompanied Youth.  This reflects a 24% increase over 2010
  • Rural Shelters served 32% of Wisconsin Homeless vs. 29% in 2010
  • Top reasons for homelessness: low or no income, roommate or family conflict, eviction, unemployment

State of Wisconsin Statistics (from National Runaway Switchboard calls made from the 608 area code)

  • In 2008 and 2009 at least once a day someone called for help from 608
  • These are crisis related calls – not all calls to switchboard

Dane County Statistics (from Madison Police Department)

  • “Missing juvenile” calls average over 2 per day

2010    830 calls

2009    827 calls

2008    815 calls

2007    964 calls

2006    967 calls

Dane County Statistics (from the 2009 Dane County Youth Assessment)

  • 7th and 8th graders:

3% reported having been kicked out by parents

8% reported running away at least once

  • 9th thru 12th graders:

8% reported being kicked out by parents

13% reported running away at least once

1% reported that they live with a friend

Dane County Statistics (from 2009 Annual Report on Homeless Served in Dane County)

  • 31 youth – sheltered short term Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin (YSOSW)

71% due to family or roommate conflicts

  • YSOSW identified 165 youth who lived or spent substantial time on the street

Dane County Statistics (from Madison Metropolitan School District)

  • Number of Identified Unaccompanied Youth by School Year (year to date count-February 29 for 2011-12 school year)

School year 2011-12 numbers are only through to the end of the month of February with three and one-half months of school remaining.  (Update-By May 9, 2012 the number of unaccompanied youth in Madison Metro School District was 57.)

MRFY’s Vision and Mission

Vision: Every human being deserves a safe home.

Participants responded to the following questions concerning the vision statement:

What questions arise for you as you ponder the vision and mission?  To what extent are you able to accept the vision and support the mission? 

 Participant discussion of these questions about the vision statement included the following:

What does a safe home mean and who defines it?

  • Need sufficient housing for a large number of youth who are homeless

What can we manage?

What supports can be available?

  • Due to different age ranges, operationalizing missions have to involve laws around constitutional and legal differences.
  • Create affordable housing for teens earning low wages

Specific

Intentional

Sustainable

  • Need subsidized and affordable housing that also allows independence for “single youth”.  Some young women believe they need to have a baby to maintain housing—the system encourages the wrong decisions
  • How to bring about affordable/transitional housing. What is the nontraditional process to bring this about?
  • Better to establish a housing program from outside the bureaucratic process. The history of this issue and following the traditional mode of funding does not work. Traditional modes of funding can hinder and challenge support for a workable model.
  • Are there other models in this country for helping youth—alternative models– that are working?

Portland—JANIS Program

Seattle, Washington

Manassas, Virginia

Medford, Oregon

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Chicago, Illinois

 

Mission: The mission of Make Room For Youth (MRFY) is to make a positive difference in the lives of youth by developing and maintaining housing for unaccompanied youth ages 13-21 experiencing homelessness in Dane County.

 

Participants responded to the following questions concerning MRFY’s mission statement:
Consider your personal and professional priorities, in what ways does your work align with the vision and mission as stated?  How can what you know help clarify and move forward this mission and vision?

 

Participant discussion of these questions about the mission statement included the following:

  • Everyone wants kids to be safe, be self-sufficient, and have self-esteem and power toward autonomy.
    • Other people should be part of this conversation

City—Community resources and funding

Sue Wallinger—Housing

Economic support people

Job Center

  • Unaccompanied youth have health needs
  • Helping youth focus on graduation

Resources in schools

Graduation, risk prevention, awareness

Increase awareness within the population and community

  • Relationships for youth are very important—need someone they can rely on.
  • Memorial High School has a model where kids are supported by adults, service agencies—a grassroots program
  • Need to de-centralize this program to include suburban areas
  • Rural areas don’t have the resources that larger urban areas have
  • Need political support for this initiative
  • Need much broader support

Need support from other non-profit agencies

Leveraging youth and media

Faith-based groups

Health-care community—full spectrum health (physical, mental, dental, etc.)

  • Perspective of families and guardians (whole family)
    • If youth are placed in group homes, have to follow state and federal regulations—it can change
    • Broader dialogue with people, program in/with authority
    • Needs to be an economic development piece—businesses
    • Alternative funding? Transitional Living Program funds (Federal funding for housing of youth 16 to 21 year olds) very difficult to get.  It is also difficult to serve 16 to 17 year olds in scattered sites (individual apartments) due to landlord reluctance and legal issues due to minor status.
    • Youth who are homeless have a business economic impact-get kids off the street
    • United Way has a focus on families and early childhood development

Carousel Brainstorming

 

Information was gathered from participants using the following five questions:

1)      What works in your community/constituency for sharing information? (Strategies)

2)      What words or phrases resonate (might resonate) in your community concerning this issue? (Language)

3)      Who needs to know about the challenges faced by unaccompanied youth? (target audiences)

4)      What do we want them to know? (content, message)

5)      How might the mission of MRFY be important to members of your community/constituents? (rationale)

 

Responses to these questions which address similar issues or concerns are grouped together with the issue heading.  Likewise, some responses are repeated under other issue headings when overlap was seen.  Comments that were substantially the same are incorporated into one response.

Carousel Question 1 –  What works in your community/constituency for sharing information? (Strategies)

Social Media

  • Websites
  • List serve
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Electronic newsletter

Community Outreach

  • Approach service clubs (Rotary, etc.) for assistance
  • Lions, Optimists, etc.
  • Reaching out to university—there are always students and departments ready to help a cause
  • Grassroots organizing for shelter as an initial step in local community and/or neighborhood
  • Presentations to community groups
  • Articles in community organization newsletters
  • Presentations to neighborhood organizations
  • Presentations to faith communities

Media (Awareness)

  • Mt. Horeb (and other local) channels
  • PSAs
  • Newspaper, TV, radio
  • At our school we’re looking to turn a front page article on the school newspaper-perhaps this awareness could also be spread through avenues such as the Wisconsin State Journal
  • Write letters to the editor

Schools

  • Presentations to school boards of education
  • At our school we’re looking to turn a front page article on the school newspaper-perhaps this awareness could also be spread through avenues such as the Wisconsin State Journal
  • Presentations, skits put on by youth in school
  • Information on school websites
  • Workshops at our conferences for school professionals

Youth

  • Presentations, skits put on by youth in school
  • Give youth a voice and listen.
  • Workshops at our youth conferences

Government

  • We need physical presentations to local government by informed members of MRFY. We should encompass all small government entities and community groups in Madison for a uniform effect. Example: Shorewood, Crestwood
  • Presentations to village boards, township boards

Documentary

  • Documentary on the situation, emphasizing the problem that exists and the need for resources.
  • Producing a film/documentary with the experiences of both youth and associated caregivers.
  • Personal stories and testimonials

Other thoughts

  • Meetings, conversations, or focus groups with parents
  • Public Service Announcements on local television stations, school stations, etc.
  • Reliable, consistent transportation and youth to youth shelter

 

Carousel Question 2 –  What words or phrases resonate (might resonate) in your community concerning this issue? (Language)

 

Youth Oriented

  • There are kids out there and they need our help
  • Kids need us
  • Kids need adults who accept them and where they are at
  • Solutions been to be youth-driven in order to be effective
  • Personal stories from youth experiencing this
  • Trust, respect, positive relationships. What kids need especially to push through adversity

School Oriented

  • “Students in Need”— that means food, shelter, etc. (it’s a broad issue!)

Safety Issues

  • Safety, abuse
  • Urgent need, vulnerable population
  • Increased human trafficking

Data oriented

  • The gap between needs and resources
  • Sometimes I feel helpless in trying to serve this population. There are so few resources.
  • Increased numbers of homeless youth, increased human trafficking

Heart String Words

  • This shouldn’t happen in Dane County!
  • Homeless youth—no Mom or Dad, youth in-need, a child alone, No Child Left Alone
  • Kids need us
  • Children

Others

  • Money
  • Ally/Partner
  • Basic needs/human rights for everyone
  • Basic needs, prevention
  • Prevention, intervention, empowerment

 

Carousel Question 3 –  Who needs to know about the challenges faced by unaccompanied youth? (target audiences)

Government

  • State legislators and State Department of Family Services (licensing of facilities changes)
  • Local municipalities in Dane County
  • Mayor of Madison, County Manager, Executive leaders of other communities in Dane County.
  • Sue Wallinger, City of Madison, Community Development (CDBG)
  • Public health
  • Aaron Oliver, City of Madison, Economic Development
  • Bureau of Out-of-Home Care (licensing)
  • Politicians/ legislators
  • United Way of Dane County

Schools

  • School staff from secretary to superintendent
  • Schools-need to do more training with administrators, teachers, secretaries and custodians

Influential Activists

  • Steve Goldberg (CUNA Foundation), community organizers
  • Jim Wood-Wood Communication, Planning For Greatness
  • General directors of Madison social change/ social welfare agencies

Medical/Health Agencies

  • Public health
  • Board of Directors at Children’s Hospital/Medical Foundation and Physician’s Plus for purposes of providing care and funding.
  • Health, mental health providers

Faith Based Community

Everybody—the entire community

  • Typical adults in the community. I think most people see homelessness as a far-off problem—we need to make it apparent that this is a serious problem that is close to everyone’s situation and effects real people that they know.
  • All Dane County youth and young adults
  • Every single adult in the community, including service and faith-based organizations
  • General public, not just service providers—they can contribute to change.

 

Carousel Question 4 –  What do we want them to know? (content, message)

Youth message

  • Every unaccompanied youth has a unique story and needs to be heard.
  • Youth involved in trafficking are victims, not criminals.
  • In order to have successful shelters, we need to get the word out to homeless students that there are (or will be) these shelters available.
  • Public Service Announcements on TV with affected students putting a face to issue
  • Build-in facility considerations for transgender youth
  • Funders and Government officials need to be aware that traditional solutions are not appealing to many youth
  • Numbers are higher than what is reported in surveys due to youth’s reluctance to report issue
  • That we value our youth.
  • Respect for the choices that youth make

Financial/Economics

  • Community leaders (mayors, Dane County executives, chamber/business leaders and police chiefs) need to know correct costs associated with homeless youth living on the streets (Data defined.)
  • This is an investment, and ultimately there will be savings/payout from this
  • We want the general public to know that if we can support/guide our youth now, they will give back to our community
  • Effect on economic development, affordability—access to sustained community, reality, who is affected

Data

  • What are negative, short-term and long-term effects of homeless youth? IMPACT!
  • Issues around power and control, abuse, exploitation, trafficking
  • That it exists in Madison and all surrounding communities
  • People need to be aware of the problems in Madison—most are unaware. Madison seems to have an arrogance that “this isn’t happening here.” Well, it is.
  • Numbers/data—that there are rules, statutes, etc. that are currently barriers to homeless facilities for youth.
  • Numbers are higher than what is reported in surveys due to youth’s reluctance to report issue
  • We need everyone to know this is a real problem, so we can get the support to tackle it.

Positive message

  • That we already have the power and resources to solve this problem-we just don’t have access or buy-in from the right people.
  • We need everyone to know this is a real problem, so we can get the support to tackle it.

Other

  • Faith groups to know the benefit of offering shelter to youth (i.e. less risk of drug abuse, prostitution, etc.)
  • We need police departments/other agencies that interact with these youth to know what the options are for shelter.
  • We need schools to get the message that this is an issue for them to help tackle, so we can work with them, not against them.

 

 Carousel Question 5 –  How might the mission of MRFY be important to members of your community/constituents? (rationale)

Safety

  • Safety issue, health issue.
  • Increase safety for entire community

Long Term Benefits

  • Save eventual human and financial costs—unemployment, jail, adult homelessness, etc.
  • Long-term results—i.e. successful adults despite teenage problems
  • Prevention of further system involvement and generational issues
  • Stronger youth are going to strengthen the community in general
  • Our youth is the future—long term economic impact
  • Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders

Community

  • Stronger youth are going to strengthen the community in general
  • Even if you don’t have children, this issue impacts us all, and as a community we have an obligation to do something about this; it is in all of our best interest, and it is the right thing to do.
  • Increase safety for entire community
  • The kids are part of our community and will require continuing assistance as adults in the absence of assistance now.
  • Empowering social change in minority groups
  • Monetary investment. High functioning citizens equal better functioning society/community
  • We care…It is important to our community to take care of our kids, youth, families

Other

  • I work in a school program that serves this population. It has been very difficult/impossible to get services for our homeless youth who are over 17—hopefully this will be a pathway to shelter, food, and necessities for this group

 

Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin (YSOSW) Announcement

Casey Behrend, Executive Director of YSOSW, announced that his organization is looking to build a new facility.  As part of that process their board of directors is supporting an 8-bed facility for unaccompanied youth.  This facility will be able to house unaccompanied youth for up to 14 nights per state law.  Funding for this facility is yet to be obtained.

Discussion about this announcement included the following:

  • Licensed foster care—21 days maximum when using Federal funding
  • Many youth don’t like to stay with strangers-youth like a larger facility with peers/Group Homes. What would be appealing to youth—more youth voices.
  • If not staying with strangers (foster care)—what is a better/different idea?
  • New legislation has recently been passed (Safe Families) where parents transfer responsibility for the care of their child to another family for up to a year at a time.
  • Peer setting would be better to motivate youth
  • Younger staff relate better to kids
  • Staff becomes like a surrogate family

Closing

Make Room for Youth members assured participants that their input would be shared with them in a summary report.  In addition, the group would utilize the information to help develop next steps.   Participants then shared out their final thoughts about the morning.

MRFY’s Commitments

As a result of the Stakeholder’s meeting the following were concurred to by the core group of MRFY.

  1. Increase the number meetings of the core group to two per month to more quickly further the aims of the group.
  2. Set up a half-day meeting to clarify and flesh out the four areas needing development.  (See below.)
  3. Maintain contact with stakeholders to request additional and on-going feedback and dialogue.

MRFY has identified four areas in need of clarification and concise goals. These areas are:

  1. Awareness of the need
  2. Funding
  3. Housing options for 13-21 year olds
  4. Lobbying the state and federal government for changes in the statutes that impede housing for unaccompanied youth.

We invite and welcome all our stakeholders to continue giving us feedback on these areas.  Feel free to contact any of the members of the core group:  Bonnie Augusta, Melissa Sargent, Casey Behrend, Jani Koester, Mary Maronek, Amy Noble.

The MRFY Story

Aside

In the fall of 2010, a few people with long time concerns about the safety of unaccompanied youth in Dane County, started a series of conversations that led to the first official gathering of what was to become Make Room For Youth.

The inaugural meeting was held on December 10, 2010 in Madison and present were Melissa Sarget, Bonnie Augusta, Jani Koester, Amy Noble, Jared Genova, Brian Juchems, Jeanne Schneider and Anne Hecht.

Other participants along the way have included Gayle Ihlenfeld, Jen Burkel, Frank Crisafi, Casey Behrend, Mary Maronek, Nicole Schulte and Pat Balke.

In the first meetings a name for these efforts and a mission were established.

Some might say the name Make Room For Youth was selected for it’s acronym MRFY and how it would be pronounced; “Murphy”.  This has the added bonus of bringing up the image in older peoples minds of a Murphy bed…. The name also expresses the need for the community to “Make Room” and open a place at the table for Unaccompanied Youth who have no place to go and no voice in the public arena.

Developing the mission was a collective process, a discussion about what the real issues are and what MRFY hopes to change in Dane County.  There is no place for dozens of young people to stay that is safe, there is no shelter for teens and the adult shelters are not appropriate nor set up to serve young adults.

In the end the decision was made to endorse the following:

 “Because every human being deserves a safe home, the mission of Make Room For Youth (MRFY) is to make a positive difference in the lives of youth by developing and maintaining housing for unaccompanied youth (aged 13-21) experiencing homelessness in Dane County.”

 ACCOMPLISHMENTS of MRFY in the first year include the following:

• Unaccompanied Youth are now named and included in the Dane County 10 Year plan to end Homelessness.

• Questions gathering information about Unaccompanied Youth were added to the Biennial Dane County Youth Survey.

• A renewed energy and focus on Unaccompanied Youth has emerged within Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin.

• Members and friends of MRFY are active participants in Homelessss Services Consortium, Dane County Youth Commission, and The Dane County Coordinated Community Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

• Madison Metropolitan School District Transition Education Program has begun participating in the annual winter HUD homeless point-in-time count. This one night census of unsheltered individuals now includes young homeless people attending Madison Schools. For the first time these students are recognized as existing by the Housing and Urban Development Department of the Federal Government.

•MRFY members are developing best practices within MMSD related to the enrollment and support of Unaccompanied Youth and are sharing these practices with the Homeless Education Network of Dane County (HENDC).

• MFRY members have shared Information widely about how Unaccompanied Youth may apply for Food Share and are developing awareness related to accessing health care, school and other resources.

• MRFY members have participated in training about UY through a national advocacy organization (NAEHCY).

•Presentations to the MMSD Student Senate and the congregation of First Unitarian Society have been made by MRFY members.

• On behalf TEP and with a focus on MRFY, an application for a By Youth For Youth Grant has been submitted.

• A community volunteer and a local church created awareness and raised funds for TEP with emphasis on Homeless Students and Unaccompanied Youth.

•MRFY has reached out to local and state government and community interests including Safe Families, the Madison Alliance Church, the Mayor’s Office, Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green, and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

•After very careful and deliberate discussion, MRFY joyfully decided to use Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin as their fiscal agent and YSOSW and MRFY officially signed an agreement on November 9, 2011.

The first donation consisted of an honorarium given to Liz Lusk and Bonnie Augusta for the The William and Joyce Wartmann Lecture on Human Sexuality and the Liberal Religious Tradition in 2011.

MRFY continues to develop.  The membership stands firmly committed to the mission and will continue to work together until there are enough safe places for youth to sleep at night in Dane County.

MRFYdane@gmail.com

“Like” Make Room For Youth (MRFY) on 

 

Bonnie Augusta                     

Jani Koester                

Mary Maronek 

Amy Noble                 

Melissa Sargent               

Casey Behrend               

Kate Weis