Homeless youth in Arizona connected to education in hopes of a better future

Jun 15, 2023, 12:46 PM | Updated: 12:47 pm

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Among the community of those experiencing homelessness across the Valley are young children and teenagers, prompting one organization to work diligently to connect them to critical services.

The Homeless Youth Connection located at Central Avenue and Hatcher Road aims to eliminate barriers to graduation as a staggering amount of children are in need of assistance across the Valley.

“In this past year, we’ve had 340 out of 720 kids that we served that were unaccompanied youth and of those, 117 were under the age of 18,” Dawn Bogart told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

Each individual experiencing homelessness has a unique story for how they found themselves without a home. For children, the problems trickle-down from the top.

“One of the biggest ones that we see … is that families who get divorced, mom and dad get divorced and the new boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse doesn’t like the kids, and so they’re quietly asked to go stay the weekend at a friends and a weekend turns into a week, [a week] turns into a month,” Bogart said.

“We also have a lot of kids that their parents are doing drugs and they’re tired of not eating and tired of not going to school, and they recognize that the education is their only ticket to not become like their parents.”

She said another group of affected youth identify as LGBTQ+.

“Their parents don’t agree with their lifestyle and they’re immediately kicked out,” Bogart said. “We had one youth that was kicked out in a huge rainstorm late last year, he had nowhere to go and a neighbor saw that he was out on the streets and took him in.”

As far as how the organization is working to help children be stable, Bogart said many services are brought to them at schools they attend.

“We provide everything from basic needs, food, clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, but we also help out with really intense case management to help kids make sure they have health insurance, they have their vital documents,” she said.

Through the Host Family program, workers are tasked with identifying families that are willing to provide safe and stable housing in an effort to keep students engaged in all school activities, Bogart said.

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Homeless youth in Arizona connected to education in hopes of a better future