BEND, Ore. - Cascade Youth & Family Center, a program of J Bar J Youth Services, has been awarded two grants totaling more than $1 million from the Department of Health and Human Services - Administration on Children, Youth and Families, addressing teen runaways and homeless, as well as human trafficking.
One of the grants will help fund the Street Outreach Program and provide support services for runaway, homeless and street youth in Central Oregon. The other grant will give funds to a Domestic Human Trafficking Program, which will address local issues related to the growing problem of human trafficking.
The grants total $1,027,500 and will be distributed over a three-year period.
The Street Outreach Program is intended to reduce the number of runaway, homeless and street youth subjected to, or at risk of, sexual abuse/exploitation and trafficking, by providing necessary street-based services and support.
This program will serve the Central Oregon region identified by Highway 97, the major north-south corridor east of the Cascade Mountains, and the major east-west corridor Interstate-84. Both are now identified as heavily traveled human trafficking routes. Adding to risk factors, Deschutes County has the highest rates of homelessness among youth in the state at 7.41%.
"Add in rental vacancy rates at less than 1% to 60% of jobs that pay less than $15/hour and we have a huge problem for homeless youth," the announcement said.
Recent trafficking stings and investigations are evidence of increased incidence of prostitution in the area and CYFC is the only provider of comprehensive services for runaway, homeless or street youth in our region.
The grant funding will help CYFC will serve over 300 youth annually by providing prevention-based services through access to emergency shelter and crisis stabilization, a 24-hour hotline, food & clothing, medical & dental care, case management and follow- up with connections to other local services.
The Domestic Human Trafficking Program will provide services to those experiencing sexual exploitation through trafficking.
Additionally, the program will assist current and past victims of human trafficking (adults and minors) in gaining access to the tools and services they need to escape exploitation and rebuild their lives.
Programming provided will utilize trauma-informed, strengths-based and victim-centered services to include: Long-Term Housing; Substance Abuse Treatment; Mental Health Counseling; Educational Opportunities; Job Training and Skills; and Legal and Financial Advocacy. CYFC expects to serve 40 victims annually.
Both programs hope to raise public awareness of issues concerning runaway, homeless and street youth in Central Oregon,” says Stephanie Alvstad, executive director of J Bar J Youth Services.
“We hope to continue to educate the community to the problem of homelessness, as so many are unaware that homeless youth exist in our community and haven’t understood the connection between homelessness and Human Trafficking,” Alvstad said
Alvstad also praised strong community collaboration around these efforts. CYFC and J Bar J are collaborating with 40 community groups on this effort including; The Homeless Leadership Council, the City of Bend, District Attorney John Hummel, the Guardian Group, Deschutes County Behavioral Health, Mosaic Medical and Saving Grace. Youth referrals will be made to Mental Health, Medical Care, Dental Care, Addiction services, Education, Emergency Shelter, Transitional Living and permanent housing.
Additionally, several media sponsors are involved with both increasing community awareness about the problem, and encouraging youth to access available services.
For more information on J Bar J Youth Services and the organization’s programs, please visit www.jbarj.org.