MEDIA ALERT:

PREPARING ADOLESCENTS TO LIVE SUCCESSFULLY

Although all programs within Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, Inc. address early childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the PALS program specifically addresses outcomes related to homelessness, employment, education, and pregnancy. 

The PALS (Preparing Adolescents to Live Successfully) Transitional Living Program has been a flagship program within Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, Inc. since 1988. PALS is a community-based transitional youth program in Mississippi certified by the Department of Mental Health.  Southern Christian Services is a private, non-profit social services agency in Mississippi comprised of six divisions.  These divisions are designed to provide a continuum of childhood trauma and permanency care which includes foster care prevention services, therapeutic foster care and adoption, therapeutic group home care, short-term crisis intervention for post adoptive families, outpatient trauma counseling services and the PALS transitional living program. 

 

The PALS program is designed to facilitate healing, recovery, and promote the social and emotional well-being of youth who have experienced homelessness, neglect, exposure to violence and/or trauma.  This program is an outward manifestation of Southern Christian’s mission: In response to the love of Christ, we serve and equip vulnerable children and youth, assisting them in becoming self-sufficient and contributing members of society.  The four pillars of the PALS program are: 

  1. Well-Being: Youth are connected with systems of care providers to assist with physical health, dental health, and mental health.

  2. Permanent Connections: Youth are encouraged to maintain ongoing attachments to families, communities, schools and other social networks.

  3. Education and Employment: Youth are connected to schools including post-secondary education or vocational training programs; improvement in interviewing skills; job attainment skills; financial literacy programs, and employment.

  4. Safe and Stable Housing: Youth transition to safe and stable housing that appropriately matches their level of need which can include; rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, moving in with family, finding roommates, etc.

The statistics for youth emancipating from foster care are dismal.  They are more likely than the general population to: 

  • Commit a crime.  Males are four (4) times more likely to commit a crime.  Females are ten (10) times more likely to commit a crime.

  • Experience homelessness.  Forty-five percent (45%) of emancipating youth are homeless within one (1) year of emancipation.

  • Develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Emancipating youth are five (5) times more likely to suffer from PTSD.

  • Develop drug and alcohol addiction. Emancipating youth are seven (7) times more likely to develop substance addiction.

  • Be unemployed. Forty-seven percent (47%) of youth are unemployed within a year after emancipation.  Seventy-one percent (71%) of those youth employed make less than $25,000 per year.

  • Be pregnant. Twenty-five percent (25%) of emancipated females give birth by age twenty (20) and forty percent (40%) of those mothers give birth again by age twenty-two (22).

  • Drop out of higher education. Only three percent (3%) of emancipated foster youth graduate from college.  

 

In addition, research is very clear: Early childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) directly impact health outcomes.  Adults who’ve suffered early childhood trauma have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other medical conditions.  Although all programs within Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, Inc. address early childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the PALS program specifically addresses outcomes related to homelessness, employment, education, and pregnancy. 

According to Run-Away and Homeless Youth Programs under U.S. Housing and Urban Development, the average length of time it takes to graduate a youth into independence is approximately 18 months. From our experience with homeless youth in Mississippi, youth take approximately 24 months to successfully graduate emotionally stable into independent housing without HUD vouchers.  This is most likely due to socioeconomic and trauma related factors, i.e.: lack of affordable safe housing near public transportation in Jackson; lack of quality and affordable trauma specific health care; and their inability to meet Mississippi Medicaid eligibility requirements.  We’re expecting to successfully serve 8 - 10 youth in the residential component of PALS during a 24-month period of PALS operation.  Additional youth not residing in PALS apartments can be served with case management and/or counseling as identified through outreach programs, gateway services or aftercare needs.  Currently, PALS is at capacity for both residential and non-residential services and has a waiting list.  If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact us at (601) 354-0983.

© 2020 Southern Christian Services For Children and Youth, Inc.