Youth services are an integral part of society and can make a huge difference in the lives of young people. Typically, youth services refer to any service designed to help those between the ages of 12 and 25 years old. Such services can take the form of anything from counselling to accommodation and are often run by NGOs or charities. The overall intention of youth services is to protect young people and give them the support they need to succeed in life.
Kevin Priest of Tallahassee, Florida, has spent his career helping young people. His first professional job was as a juvenile services officer in Omaha, Nebraska, and he held that position for five years. He then became a program services director for a group home for adolescent boys. Eventually, he ended up moving to Florida and it was there that he became the CEO of Arnette House, an organization providing an emergency youth shelter, family counseling services, and foster care group homes for several Florida counties. He subsequently took a position with Capital City Youth Services (CCYS) in Tallahassee. He provides his insight into the reasons why youth services are so valuable.
The State of Youth
The main reason why youth services are so important is because there are many young people in the United States, and around the world, that are at-risk. Youth services are one of the best ways to help these people get back on the right track, and when young people succeed in life it benefits us all, shares Kevin Priest. For example, there are currently one in nine young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor attending school. A lack of available jobs is a serious problem for young people.
To make matters even worse, it has become increasingly common for entry-level positions to be offered on a casual or contract basis. Only being able to work part time, or working full time but with no job security whatsoever, can seriously harm a young person’s ability to succeed in the workforce. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is only deteriorating further, as even fewer jobs are available, schools have been forced online, and youth are more isolated from society than ever. Further, poverty rates among youth are increasing, leaving many on the verge of homelessness. Youth services aim to help those at or below the poverty line, providing shelter and accommodation when possible, and helping young people become educated in the hopes that they can get a job and get off the streets.
Kevin Priest Explains How Youth Services Help
What many people fail to realize is how wide reaching youth services are. Kevin Priest asserts that most people think youth services are nothing more than counselling. While counselling is a major component of these services, there is much more to it. For example, many youth services offer counselling services in addition to accommodation, parenting advice, drugs and alcohol support, and even relationship help. Many organizations have transitional, short-term homes available for youth, often divided up between the ages of 12 and 15 and 16 and 19. Not only do these accommodations provide a safe place to stay for young people, but they also help teach young people how to maintain a permanent and stable living arrangement.
Other common youth services include “getting it together” type programs, aimed at helping youth gain the skills necessary to become financially stable. Some charities even offer financial brokerage services, whereby they help youth from troubled homes overcome financial barriers so that they can succeed. Such financial barriers could include daily living expenses, transportation expenses, or education and employment expenses, such as school uniforms or field trips. There are typically also specific programs in place to help youths with their mental health. Young people with mental health issues deserve to get the help they need and youth services makes this possible. Some youth organizations are able to provide comprehensive mental health assessments, psychological interventions, and flexible counselling appointments. Some organizations even operate more general youth centers, where young people can drop by anytime and have a quiet and safe space to do their homework, hang out with friends, or participate in a variety of supervised activities. Some of the better equipped centers are even able to offer homework assistance, peer mentoring, educational workshops, sports, movie nights, and more.
Overall, Kevin Priest claims that youth services aim to make a difference in the lives of youth people. Whether simply providing a non-judgmental space for youth to thrive and learn, or helping young people through specific programs aimed at developing leadership or financial skills, youth services are invaluable.
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