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YouthConnect Center offers overnight shelter

Outside the YouthConnect Center
Outside the YouthConnect Center

The youth drop-in center has operated in downtown Springfield for two years. It is now offering overnight shelter for kids aged 13-18 all year.

Springfield's YouthConnect Center is expanding on its mission to support vulnerable youth. The program from the non-profit FosterAdopt Connect has offered low-barrier services to youth and their families facing housing insecurity since it opened two years ago. It has also been a part of the City’s Crisis Cold Weather Shelter program, and now it is offering overnight shelter for kids aged 13-18 all year.

Erin Washburn, Senior Director of Youth Housing at the Center said they are the only low-barrier youth shelter in Springfield, Washburn explained, “that means youth can show up at the door and have a bed that night.” She did add that youth ages 13-15 do need permission from a guardian.

Washburn says they spent much of the last year updating their space to meet codes and regulations to be an overnight shelter. Now she says they have eight beds available. When I talked with her about noon on a Monday, she said two beds had already been claimed for the night.

She said, “the most we’ve had at a time right now is six beds full,” which Washburn said occurs frequently

She says youth and family services are always in need. It is especially difficult to find resources for unaccompanied minors, particularly those who have not quite reached adulthood. She says they hope the shelter can help fill that gap.

"They cannot access adult services or shelters,” she said, “but they are not able to go home, and it is very difficult at 17 or 17 and a half years old for child-protective services to step in.”

In addition to shelter space the YouthConnect Center provides a wide variety of services, including showers, laundry, food, clothing and bus passes. She says they can help youth with things like obtaining an ID and help connect youth and their families with other resources. She says their goal is to intervene and keep people housed, keep children out of the welfare system and help youth transitioning out of the system prepare for adulthood.

The YouthConnect Center is largely grant funded, but also relies on donations and community support. Learn more at Find the Center in downtown Springfield, at 425 W McDaniel. Contact them at 417-708-4117.