Even in the best communities in the United States, there are several kids and teenagers living in at-risk situations. This could be due to abuse in their household, poverty, danger in their neighborhoods, and several other possibilities. If providing at-risk youth relief is your passion, recognize that it's a labor of love and there's much work to be done. Here are some ways you can help.
Figure out what grants and government assistance are immediately available
Youths living in at-risk situations aren't going to readily know about the assistance programs that they qualify for. Identifying at-risk youths and helping them apply to and get approved for federal programs can be potentially life-changing.
For example, the federal government has a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program that provides long-term living arrangements for teenagers that are at least 16 years old to young adults no older than 22 years old.
School systems serve more than 20 million free lunches each year to students in need. Explore these sorts of programs immediately to make sure that your at-risk youth can get at least one hot meal per day. Stay up to date on the relevant programs and advocate for youths that can't advocate for themselves.
Take care of the kids' safety and well-being first and foremost
Think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs when you pinpoint an at-risk youth. Start by getting them out of danger and taking care of their food, water, and shelter needs.
Annually, approximately 700,000 kids suffer from some form of abuse or neglect. In situations of immediate danger, you won't have time to wait for funding and application processes. Pool your resources to find immediate shelter and protection for kids that need to get out of dangerous situations. Collaborate with clothing drives that can also make sure they have clean outfits to wear.
Provide counseling and guidance to get the youth through this time of crisis and beyond
At-risk youths will almost always have some sort of mental health issue that must be addressed. Help them out by getting them counseling and therapy. A single therapy session can cost you about $75-150 per 45-minute session.
Several teens that have gone through at-risk situations suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and will need consistent mental health care for years and likely for the rest of their lives.
Aside from medical care, provide the kids with mentorship, friendship, and guidance. Kids without fathers in their lives should be paired with positive male role models, and likewise for children without maternal figures. Expose them to great information and teach them that education and hard work are foundational for them to change their lives.
Use these tips so that you can work to help at-risk youths. Reach out to an at-risk youth crisis relief program to learn more.