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Empower Youth Program Helps Homeless Teens

A new program will meet the needs of homeless youth in Springfield. The Boys and Girls Town of Missouri is working with the Ozark Family Resource Center to provide shelter and other resources for homeless youth in the area. In recognition of April being Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, KSMU's Emily Nash tells us what the new program has to offer.

Finding food, water, and shelter, are not concerns for most ten year olds.

But there's a homeless youth population in Springfield, that's forced to survive alone.

Empowering Youth is a new program in Springfield that provides shelter and after care services for homeless youth ages 10-18.

Myra Garcia is the case manager for the Empowering Youth program.

The program focuses on non-system youth, which means they're not in the state's custody or in the juvenile justice systems.

Some homeless teens have runaway from their homes while others were kicked out by their parents.

Garcia says, some teens leave their home to escape physical abuse, financial crisis, drug abuse, or severe family conflict.

Garcia says the Empowering Youth program provides five basic needs homeless youth have.

She says, the program connects the youth with aid programs such as Medicaid and Social Security.

The program is sponsored by the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri and the Ozark Family Resource Center.

Teens in the program will live in the OFRC and participate in the daily activities it offers.

Garcia says, homeless youth will be referred by different agencies across Springfield to participate in the Empowering Youth program.

Empowering Youth offers extensive follow up care for homeless teens once they leave the shelter.

Alaina Steele is the director of the Ozark Family Resource Center and the Empowering Youth program.

She says the after care services the program offers will make the biggest difference in homeless teen's lives.

The Empowering Youth program will begin May 4th at the Ozark Family Resource Center.

For more information about the program contact the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri.