Today’s guest post is written by Erin. She blogged from the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness.
The moment I walked into the grand Biltmore Hotel, I noticed the energy. This hotel is full of focus and excitement. Right away, I met providers, researchers, funders from across the county and more. In the opening session, I heard the goal to end youth homelessness by 2020. This challenging goal excites and motivates me. It signifies that we are ready and charged to address those youth who are struggling with homelessness.
Yesterday I presented about my program, The Groundwork Project: Wraparound with Homeless Youth, to a packed room. When I asked the audience how many in the room were youth providers, only about five of the 100+ people in the room raised their hands. That tells me that new providers are intrigued to learn more about strategies that may work with youth in their communities. Critical wraparound themes of family/relatives as allies, espousing a youth development mindset, and providing continuums of integrated care were weaved throughout many of the presentations and conversations I participated in.
As I pack my bag to leave LA and return to Seattle, I also want to pack with me all these lessons, connections and inspiration from this conference. This conference has been formative for me as a professional; it has compelled me to seriously consider data, commit to implementing promising strategies, and recharge our wraparound program in Washington State as part of larger national effort to end youth homelessness.
This has been a chance to reflect on the values that guide my work with homeless youth and identify the tools my programs has with which to make an impact on the lives of the youth we serve. I am grateful to the Alliance and to all those gathered here in LA for joining together to teach, discuss, and advocate for the homeless youth and young adults that we represent.
Erin Maguire works with homeless youth and young adults at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington in Seattle, WA. She is the manager of the Groundwork Project: High Fidelity Wraparound with Homeless Youth at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. She can be reached at ErinMa@ccsww.org or 206-327-2474.