Youth Engagement Team Initiative (YETI) Report
October 2016 Edition
Recent Youth News & Updates
Torrington Youth Engagement Team “Care Closet” Project
The 2015 Youth Count illuminated the number of homeless and unstably housed youth hidden across Connecticut. One of the first communities to respond and take action for their most vulnerable young people is Torrington. In their high school estimation project, there were 107 unique cases of homelessness reported among the 1,110 students enrolled.*
Since then Torrington has moved forward with the Waterbury/Litchfield Coordinated Access Network (CAN) to create a serious youth engagement team initiative, or YETI, to bring together homeless outreach providers, community members, and youth to strategize around the identification, outreach, and engagement of homeless and unstably housed youth. Their team has coordinated with the school and is engaging in a partnership with the Northwest CT Community Foundation to fund the project. This space, more like a classroom than closet, will be not only providing supplies like toiletries, food, and school materials for students in need, but will serve as a first step in engaging with students who may be experiencing housing instability. The team hopes to later incorporate computers so that students can looking into accessing services on their own through websites like youth-help.org and learn more about services offered in the Torrington area.
The project is underway to establish this space, strategically located to maintain the privacy of students as well as in a central location of the campus. This resource center is intended to increase public awareness of the problem among students and decrease the stigma that prevents many youth from coming forward for support.
The effort to establish this care closet for the students at Torrington high has been mainly youth driven. Around 8 youth have regularly dedicated their time, even throughout the summer, to engage with community partners and make this a reality. While some have lived inexperience with housing instability and homelessness, many are simply peers bringing in ideas on how to engage the greater youth community in this effort.
The Care Closet is a simple engagement and outreach model that youth engagement teams can work to implement in high schools and customize for their community’s needs. The Torrington Youth Engagement Project is off to a great start and we look forward to seeing the results in their community.
To learn about how this project began and how to start this initiative in your high school or community, please contact Michelle Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.