A former Project Link liaison, now retired from Las Cruces Public Schools, Yoli Silva speaks about community collaboration with the organization after learning two unaccompanied teen youths became temporarily homeless during the winter season.
The claim that “Children are the Face of Today’s Homelessness,” made by Hope Stories narrator Audrey Hardman-Hartley, continues to challenge my work. On the surface, the contradiction —more realistic than some acknowledge— places undue burden on the communities across the United States.
The National Center for Homeless Education highlights the importance of the McKinney-Vento Act for K-12 students and educators. Like adults, unaccompanied youth must also learn to navigate the dangers of poverty and homelessness.
The practical, legal, and circumstantial limitations to recover from a crisis endangers children most. Unforeseen barriers place youth at risk of long-term mental and physical injury. In some situations, shelters cannot immediately accept minors under the age of eighteen without consent from a parent.
When emergency crisis response does occur, reliable and supportive actions are crucial to youth safety. At times with help from Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, Las Cruces Public Schools work with a federal program called Project Link to proactively address youth homelessness. “Collaboration — [with] community, school, family, etc.,” says Yoli Silva, “is key to our unaccompanied youth staying safe, and leads the path to their success.”
Project Link’s Las Cruces Public Schools web-link also shares an informative Community Resource Guide created and maintained by Jardin de Los Niños staff. From child care, to crisis intervention, to food and financial assistance, to emergency shelter information; this vital services guide signals the city-wide collaboration in the Las Cruces, and the community’s history to combine public health with necessary crisis response.
Hope Stories 008 –– 1h 49m Recording held at Jardin de Los Niños La Paz Room on the Hope Campus 17 July 2018.