SARASOTA, FL – Since 1991, the Safe Children Coalition Youth Shelter has addressed the needs of thousands of youths and families in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. The Youth Shelter serves a target population of children and teens, ages 10 to 17 – who are either homeless, have run away, are ungovernable, truant, experiencing family conflict or mental health crises – with temporary housing and safe care.
The Youth Shelter is now 60 years old and without sufficient capacity to meet the current level of need. Additionally, the property has recently been sold; Safe Children Coalition must vacate the premises by March of 2023.
To help support the construction of a new Youth Shelter, with numerous upgrades and the ability to host direct services on-site, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation has awarded a grant of $1 million to Safe Children Coalition. The funds will be used to support the preliminary property development consultant costs, such as the project architect; all appropriate engineers; the systems consultant; and construction costs.
The new facility is slated to be approximately 9,000 square feet, with separate male and female wings, and double and single occupancy rooms (as opposed to the current dorm-style layout). The new configuration will help SCC with more appropriate spacing needs to meet requirements for age separation of children as well as helping children with backgrounds that require them to have single room accommodations. The new facility will also have dedicated space for services such as individual and family counseling and therapy sessions, with the goal of reunifying children and teens with their families.
The shelter provides safe care for up to 200 youth annually, with nearly 3,000 bed nights each year.
The grant was one of $8 million in total grants recently awarded by the Barancik Foundation. These grants target affordable housing, human services, and projects that promote environmental sustainability.
“Keeping kids out of the foster care system and reuniting them with their families is a primary goal for this youth shelter and a critical need in our community,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Barancik Foundation. “Sixty years is a long time to depend on an antiquated structure and it is high time we replace it. Our board hopes that this contribution will spark other donors to contribute to the construction of a new shelter to help these children in need.”
The primary goal of the Youth Shelter is to transition youth to a more permanent, safe living situation aimed at reunification with their family whenever possible. The shelter provides youth with 24-hour access to a temporary safe-haven and corresponding support services, such as emergency housing, food, clothing, educational services, comprehensive assessment, crisis intervention, individual, group and family counseling, service linkages, family reunification services, life skills development, case management, tutoring, transportation to school, recreational programs and referral to aftercare services, 365 days per year.
Maintaining a structured daily schedule supports youth as they gain the skills necessary to successfully transition to young adulthood. Youths at the shelter are provided with extensive support services through the Prevention/Counseling program, a continuum of services that address the immediate needs of each youth. All services are provided free of charge to every youth in need.
Youth typically stay at the shelter for 10-14 days; approximately 93% who were discharged from shelter services are reunited with their families or are placed in safe and stable living arrangements. It is the only community emergency shelter in Sarasota and DeSoto counties serving youth in need of emergency services.
“Without the support of our donors and community, troubled youth in our shelter would not have a safe place or the opportunity to get their lives back on track,” said Brena Slater, president and CEO of Safe Children Coalition. “We are so appreciative of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation’s support of this vital community asset that keeps our youth out of foster care, with a goal to reunite teens with family whenever possible.”
For more information, visit sccfl.org
About Safe Children Coalition, Inc.
Safe Children Coalition, Inc. (SCC) serves as the lead agency for community-based care for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. SCC is a collaboration between local community agencies who provide services to children and families in need. SCC is committed to protecting children, strengthening families, and building community. The core functions provided by SCC include child welfare case management, foster care, adoption, independent living, prevention, diversion, quality management, and support services. Visit sccfl.org or call 941-371-4799.