Homeless Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • I have just heard about the sad situation of a 16 year old girl "Clementine."  She is the daughter of a former neighbor from decades ago, who now finds herself without a permanent home.  Clementine's father died 10 years ago and her mother is a nice woman who has always struggled functioning in life, has always had health and drug issues which have gotten worse as the years went by but they did have a home through the kindness of a relative for years but no longer have a place. Sorry I don't have all the info so I can't fully explain how this ended up as it has.

    A few months ago the mother had a catastrophic medical emergency which had her in the hospital for a few months (with no medical coverage). They recently discharged her and some relative agreed to take her while they try to replace all her vital records (she lost them all) and I assume will then apply for medical. It appears the mother will need full time care and end up in a nursing home. Clementine has been separated from the mother because the relative can't take them both in so is living with an older step-sibling who I hear is a good person with good intentions but is just too young to be a parent, so Clementine is once again isolated, not going to school and not being parented.  It is not clear to me why other family members aren't getting involved other than I think they feel if they help Clementine, they will also be responsible for her mother who now is facing needing full time care and perhaps has a history of being a burden to the family.

    Clementine hasn't been to a school since grade school. It was thought she was being home-schooled via the internet but now that appears that might not have been the case, that she might have stopped doing the online schooling years ago.  It seems her last time in a real school was 6th grade, and she was taken out because of bullying. I have heard reports about her for years and always positive - that she is a kind, sweet, smart, well behaved kid who despite her situation doesn't seem to have any serious psychological troubles.  It appears her size and social awkwardness made her a target for bullying and that was why she was taken out of school.

    Clementine does receive social security benefits because of her deceased father but nothing else. It just seems like something else can be done for her, that she has totally slipped through the cracks and has had this incredibly sad life, watching her father die a slow death (who also struggled with serious issues so was never a "dad") and then housebound with a mother who didn't drive or work or function well. I would consider taking her in myself but travel too much for my job, she needs a family and stability.

    They live in the Bay Area. Are there homes or places or programs for teenagers like her - who have no history of crime or drugs or major psychological issues but just needs a home?  A place that is actually nice and stable, where she might finally experience care and have a chance to thrive and not a place where she has to deal with neglect or navigate people with serious dysfunction or seriously troubled teens. Surely there must be some support for a teenager with a deceased parent and another on their way to the nursing home? Or programs which can provide something other than just the ss benefits she receives because of the deceased father?  Any hints or tips would be appreciated.

    Dreamcatchers in Oakland may be a good one-stop resource to get some sort of a ball rolling in some direction.

    Kudos for stepping up to assist this young woman that seems to have really dropped through the cracks.

    best wishes.

    She might want to check into the organization called StarVista https://star-vista.org/.  My husband has been on the Board of Trustees for many years and they work with many people who need assistance such as Clementine.  They are located in San Mateo county.

    The Child Welfare System exists for this kind of situation (neglect since she is not going to school) as well as for child abuse. Child and Family Services will assess the situation and then either provide financial and other support for a friend or relative to take her in (so that person would be the foster parent) or find her a foster family that she doesn't know already. Since she is well-behaved, a group home is unlikely. Many foster families are excellent; some are not. It's a big bureaucracy but has many great staff and they can get her tutoring, etc. (I've been a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for 10 years for four different teen girls in foster care, and I have seen the system work well and work horribly, but generally the "easier" child/teen get better placements, though they may slip through the cracks in other ways.)

    510-259-1800 is the Alameda County number

    1-(877) 881-1116 is Contra Costa

    Another possibility is Safe Refuge for Children and Families https://saferefugecf.org/ I just heard about this org and don't know much about them but sounds like it may be a possibility. "The mission of SRCF is to protect children from potential neglect or abuse arising from a crisis by providing them with a safe, stable temporary home." It is a Christian organization.

    Larkin Street Youth Service would be a resource to direct you to available help and advice. They are in San Francisco, a very good group, and would probably be able to advise her and any adult guardian/mentor about available services, and provide access and advocacy assistance. https://larkinstreetyouth.org/