ACH “Shines a Light” to make an impact on runaway and homeless youth
FORT WORTH – Each November, ACH joins others throughout the country to participate in National Runaway Prevention Month, which calls attention to the experiences of millions of runaway and homeless youth in our country. ACH advocates on behalf of these children, teens and young adults in Tarrant County and surrounding areas through a series of different programs designed to support and ultimately prevent homelessness. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this critical work has never been more important for so many youth who have fallen on hard times.
“There are almost 15,000 homeless youth in Tarrant County alone, and more than half are under the age of six,” said Tia Magee for ACH’s Pat O’Neal Youth Emergency Shelter. “Our staff work every day to provide a safe place and trusting relationships for runaway youth who are grappling with family conflicts, crises and homelessness.”
The Pat O’Neal Youth Emergency Shelter serves youth ages 10-17 who are runaways or homeless or who are experiencing or at risk of sexual exploitation and/or trafficking. The shelter – the only one of its kind in Tarrant County – provides 24/7 safety and care as well as outreach, education, advocacy, counseling and case management services. The Pat O’Neal Youth Emergency Shelter is also a designated “Safe Place.” Safe Place is a national program administered locally by ACH that provides access to immediate help and safety for young people in trouble. Youth feeling unsafe or threatened can get help from ACH at any of more than 250 Safe Place locations throughout Tarrant County.
“Emotionally, being homeless hits you because you’re left with your thoughts… I was super sad,” said Mohammed, a teen who received care at ACH. “But when I came to the shelter, I was always surrounded by people, and I didn’t have those stressors of being homeless.”
Through ACH’s Assessment, Intervention, and Referral Services (AIRS) program, youth and others in crisis can find the help and assistance they need, when they need it. AIRS operates a 24-hour crisis call response line that serves as a portal to connect individuals to ACH programs and services. If you need support, contact us at 817.335.HOPE (4673) or email [email protected] for 24-hour assistance. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
First launched in October 2002, National Runaway Prevention Month is spearheaded each year by National Runaway Safeline (NRS), a national nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that runaway, homeless and at-risk youth are safe and off the streets, with the support of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB). Every November, ACH shines a green light – the official color of National Runaway Prevention Month – to call attention to youth homelessness which impacts communities everywhere.
With over a century of experience, ACH Child and Family Services, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit agency, brings needed resources and skills to children and families struggling with life’s challenges. Some of our 17 programs and services keep children and families together while others provide a healing home for children who can’t live with their families. Through the Our Community Our Kids division, ACH is leading the way in Community-Based Care in seven counties of the Texas foster care system. ACH has been accredited every year since 2003 by the Council on Accreditation and in 2018 Our Community Our Kids became the only nationally accredited community-based care contractor in Texas. Our vision is for families to thrive and children to experience safety, hope and love. Learn more at achservices.org.
817.335.HOPE (4673) | ACHservices.org