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2009 Ends With Biggest Increase In Homeless Youth In MO

December 30, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As 2009 comes to an end, Missouri has a record number of homeless young people. Rachel Francis, youth services program manager with Synergy Services, says the shelter has seen a 61 percent increase in homeless kids. In fact, shelter workers had to tell more than 300 that they couldn't provide them with a place to sleep - a message they had to deliver to just 95 teenagers the previous year.

Francis says teens become homeless for a variety of reasons - often abuse and neglect - although the biggest reason this year has been the economy.

"They come to us because their parents just can't afford to have them at home any more. They're 18, and not all of them have graduated - some of them are still in high school - and they're being forced to find their own place to live."

Many transitional living programs for teens are available in Missouri, but not all have enough money to provide services without the help of private donations, she adds.

"We truly believe that it takes a community to raise these young people, to help them and provide assistance to them. We're doing everything we possibly can to make that happen."

Francis says they are able to help more teens after a new crisis shelter opened in Kansas City last month. It is part of a homeless teen campus that will open in 2010, providing medical and dental care along with a computer lab so students can keep up with their schoolwork, she explains.





Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO