Many youth are homeless, not by choice, but by circumstance.
North Texas Youth Connection provides shelter accommodations for youth ages 10-17 who are homeless or who have been placed into custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), also known as CPS.
It is licensed by the State of Texas as a temporary Residential Care facility and monitored for regulatory performance standards. Both the executive director and the director of residential services are Licensed Child Care Administrators.
Youth entering the shelter have an on-site case manager who sees to educational, medical, and life-skills needs. In addition to the activities of the case manager, youth are supervised by Youth Advisors who are present in the shelter 24/7 in rotating shifts.
Community volunteer groups provide other training and activities for these young people.
Youth attend public or alternative schools in the community and are encouraged to participate in school activities, where possible.
The shelter is not a “lock-down” facility; however, youth are accepted with the expectations that they will follow shelter rules as published in the Shelter Residents’ Manual.
Typical shelter stay is no more than 90 days during which time DFPS plans for a more permanent placement arrangement.
Typical Shelter Day
First of all, there is no “typical” shelter day.
During the school year, residents go to school, do homework, have a recreation or quiet time, and go to bed at a curfew hour. Residents are offered nutritional meals and snacks. On holidays and special occasions, special meals and activities are planned.
Living in a shelter is “not normal,” but we try to give youth a sense of safety and self.
During the summer, our Discovery Program™ provides opportunities to visit museums, camp out, boat, swim, and do other “kid” things.
Responsive Attentive peers (R.A.P.)
Is an interactive life skills group held in the community such as area schools, housing authorities and Boys and Girls Clubs. These groups are used to help increase knowledge about runaway resources and prevention, truancy prevention, substance abuse prevention, anti-bullying and behavior modification.
Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY)
NTYC also works with youth ages 10-17 to provide temporary shelter until more permanent arrangements can be made. Funded by a federal RHY grant, this program operates in a way similar to the basic shelter program.
NTYC is a Safe Place agency. When a call for help comes through Safe Place locations in our area, youth who are homeless or in danger are sheltered until they can be reunited with their families.
Transitional Living Program
For those youth approaching age 18, NTYC provides additional services to assist them in planning for independent living. Often these youth will not find permanent placement because of their age, so we become their surrogate. If the youth is attending school, he/she may be able to stay with us for a longer period of time. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
Beginning in 2016, NTYC will offer a residential program for youth ages 18-21. Currently in partnership with the Sherman Independent School Districts vocational skills program and with Lowe’s Skills USA grant program, a residence is being constructed. When completed, this home, or transition house, will be moved to a residential lot owned by NTYC. It will house four (4) residents who will be supervised and mentored by NTYC professional staff.
This transition program is a short-term respite so that youth can complete training, gain employment, and move out on their own.
North Texas Youth Connection Transition House*
*Working title—Watch us Grow!
PURPOSE: To assist youth reach self-sufficiency by furnishing a place to live while the young person finishes school or vocational training, attains employment, and saves for necessary start-up living expenses, such as rent, utilities, insurance, and transportation.
DESIRED IMPACT: Youth will gain “adult” life skills and expectations and move to self- sufficiency.
Nine years ago–recognizing that a program was needed to assist homeless youth once they turned 18 and were no longer eligible to live in our shelter because our state licensing authority has licensed us as a home for youth through age 17–North Texas Youth Connection (NTYC) established a transitional living program for youth ages 18-21. The program was first housed at a donated residence in Sherman, then in a modular home in Denison, and then in a facility built specifically for the program. As the program grew, the majority of funding for the Transitional Living Program (TLP) came from government Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) funding. While the program was very successful, it suffered from sequestration in 2013 and non-renewal of the grant in 2014.
North Texas Youth Connection closed the program at the end of March 2014, with deep regret and the frustration that the need of these youth would no longer be met.
In late 2014, however, things changed. We were approached by Mr. Spencer Gartin, a vocational teacher at Sherman High School, to partner in a grant proposal to the Lowe’s Skills USA Foundation. The proposal for a $25,000 grant–matched by student labor under the supervision of Mr. Gartin and a licensed home contractor– was to build a two story home to re-establish NTYC’s Transitional Living Program.
The grant was awarded in mid-spring 2015. Construction is underway with plans for completion by late 2015 or early 2016. When completed, the home will be moved to a lot owned by NTYC on Loving Street, just adjacent to the current shelter. It will house up to four youth who will be mentored and supervised by NTYC staff and others.