An average of 1,800 children and teens live in shelters and transitional housing each year in Snohomish County. Of this 1,800, 1,300 will enter temporary shelters and 500 will live in transitional housing, where they can stay for a maximum of two years. Thirty six percent of these children are under the age nine.
The Everett Family YMCA Y-Community program helps to reduce the trauma of homelessness for children and families in Snohomish County by:
1) acting as a catalyst for collaboration by bringing housing agencies together to collaborate and maximize services;
2) offering family-oriented activities which counteract the state of crisis that many families regularly experience; and
3) building assets in young people who need support and strength to thrive in an uncertain world.
In 2002, the Everett Family YMCA Y-Community program was formed as a partnership between housing agencies and the YMCA to provide coordination and implementation of services targeted to youth in shelters, transitional housing, and “Section 8” housing authority housing. The goal is to provide a sustainable network of services with the capacity to serve multiple ages from multiple settings, sensitive to the needs of children, youth, teens and the parents exposed to homelessness.
The Y-Community program supports 250-300 individuals annually with an average of 9 visits or “touches” per individual. Currently the Everett Family YMCA collaborates with the following agencies: Everett Gospel Mission, Everett Housing Authority, Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Housing Hope, Interfaith Shelter, Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, Volunteers of America, and the YWCA.
The Y-Community program provides stable and consistent services while utilizing existing community resources to meet the needs of this population. Families who participate in the Y-Community program gain both a better understanding of the support network our community offers as well as some much needed “family time” away from the noise, stress and distraction of a housing shelter. Y supported events/activities range from a trip to the Everett Public library to get library cards and learn of the service offered to a family night at the Mariner’s ballpark with transportation and a sack dinner. One of the more popular outings is a quiet bonfire cookout at the Mukilteo beach. These types of events don’t cost a lot on a per person basis, but they provide the quality time and sense of community support families and children need during stressful times.
At the conclusion of each Y-Community event parents are asked to complete a brief questionnaire asking for their feedback on the event/activity. The evaluation references the asset building skills our program strives to instill in both the children and parents. Some of the outcomes measured include:
- The Y-Community program helped their family have fun through “normalizing” recreational experiences, improved the overall health of the family, and provided hope for the future.
- The Y-Community program helped their children get along better with others, learn to follow rules and feel successful in the activities they have been a part of.
- Parents feel the Y-Community program staff care about their children, challenge them to do our best, and help them feel as though they can make a positive difference.
- Valuable information regarding community support systems was shared helping me feel like I have the tools I need as a parent to be successful.