YSN continues to serve an ever changing population of at-risk youth. Most of the kids that come to us now have no family to which they can return or rely upon. They are among the most vulnerable youth in residential care. Here are three short profiles of kids who face the difficult task of coming to terms with their own personal histories:
Alfredo has been in foster and group homes since he was abandoned by his family at the age of five. Now twelve years old, he is sullen, distrusting and emotionally withdrawn. Due to the trauma of abuse and abandonment he experienced at an early age, he has a deep-rooted resistance to forming a meaningful or lasting relationship with anyone. We already know that he can adapt to a structured environment. Our job is to create an environment where he feels safe enough to connect to and trust the youth counselors and other professionals who work with him. This is the first step to getting the help he needs to overcome his trauma and make progress in his life.
Terrence suffered an emotional breakdown related to a violent and very traumatic episode in his family. His dad, a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, attempted suicide in front of his family. He was hospitalized and died from his self-inflicted wounds two weeks later. His mother, with a history of mental illness herself, had a breakdown and was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. With the family in severe crisis, Terrence came to live with us. We are providing a safe, therapeutic environment where he can begin the long process of healing, with the goal that he will successfully reunite with his mother and extended family members.
Darrell has been in foster care since he was ten years old when his drug addicted mother was unable to care for him. His father is in prison. Like so many of our other boys, Darrell’s early life was marked by a chaotic family environment of neglect and trauma. At fifteen, he has difficulty controlling his impulses and became aggressive when upset or frustrated. His behavior in school has led to many suspensions, and finally expulsion. Caretakers at several previous foster homes asked that he be removed when they were unable to find an effective way to work with him. We know it will take a lot of one-on-one consistent intervention from our team of mental health professionals and youth counselors to help Darrell overcome his trauma. He is also participating with other boys in anger management and social skills group to help him develop better ways to manage his emotions and behavior.