At-Risk/Runaway Youth

Family Reconciliation Services (FRS)

FRS is a voluntary program serving runaway adolescents, and youth in conflict with their families. The program targets adolescents between the ages of 12 through 17. FRS services are meant to resolve crisis situations and prevent unnecessary out of home placement. They are not long term services. The services will assess and stabilize the family's situation. The goal is to return the family to a pre-crisis state and to work with the family to identify alternative methods of handling similar conflicts. If longer-term service needs are identified, FRS will help facilitate getting the youth and his/her family into on-going services.

FRS services may include, but are not limited to:

  • Short-term family counseling
  • Crisis Residential Center (CRC) services
  • Referrals for substance abuse treatment and/or counseling
  • Referrals for mental health services
  • Short-term placement
  • Family Assessments in conjunction with juvenile court services

HOPE Act

The HOPE Act legislation, passed in 1999, created two new programs to address street youth; HOPE Centers and Responsible Living Skills Programs.

HOPE Centers provide temporary residential placements for street youth under the age of 18. These are homeless youth living on the street or other unsafe locations. Youth may self-refer to a HOPE Center for services. Entering a HOPE Center is voluntary. While residing in a HOPE Center, each youth will undergo a comprehensive assessment to include:

  • The youth's legal status
  • A physical examination
  • A mental health evaluation
  • A chemical abuse evaluation
  • An educational evaluation of their basic skills, along with any learning disabilities or special needs

The purpose of the assessment is to develop the best plan for the youth. The plan will focus on finding a permanent and stable home for the youth. This plan might include reunifying the youth with his or her parent(s) or legal guardian and/or getting the youth into a transitional living situation and off the streets.

Crisis Residential Centers

Crisis residential centers (CRC's) are short-term, semi-secure facilities for runaway youth, and adolescents in conflict with their families. Youth cannot remain in a CRC more than 15 consecutive days.

Counselors at the CRC (typically, in collaboration with an FRS Social Worker) work with the family to resolve the immediate conflict. Counselors will also help the youth and family develop better ways of dealing with conflict in the future. The goal is to reunite the family and youth wherever possible. The family will also be referred for additional services if other needs are identified.

Secure Crisis Residential Centers

The "Becca Bill" (named after a runaway youth who was subsequently killed) established secure crisis residential centers for runaway youth. The Becca Bill authorizes law enforcement to pick up runaway youth, or youth found in "dangerous circumstances", and place them in these physically secure, short-term residential facilities. Youth may not remain in a SCRC longer than 5 consecutive days in a detention based facility or 15 days in a non-detention facility. Youth may transfer between a SCRC and a CRC, but the total length of stay may not exceed 15 consecutive days. SCRC counselors work with families to resolve the immediate conflict, facilitate a reconciliation between parent and youth, and provide referral to additional services.