Last week, The Children’s Cabinet celebrated a grand opening of a new place in town that helps keep kids safe from wandering the streets.
The Children’s Cabinet’s Galletti campus in Sparks opened and welcomed the Center for Aspiring Youth and the Cottage of Change to the community. These newly designed housing structures will provide a safe, transitional environment for teens and young adults, ages 12 to 24 seeking emergency safety and housing throughout Washoe County.
Many of these young residents come from broken homes and troubled families. But now they will benefit from a safe and stable living environment as they gain independence, self-esteem and responsibility before safely reconnecting with family members. The two facilities are fully staffed and supervised around the clock.
The Children’s Cabinet has been providing safe place crisis interventions and outreach services for more than a decade, working with other local community programs to help foster children. Case workers here aim to create a facility that “feels more like a family home than an institution” because many kids at risk today may be a growing concern in the local areas.
“At any given time, there are hundreds of youth in Washoe County who are homeless and unaccompanied by an adult. They are living on the streets, by the river, at a friends’ house, or in a motel,” said Kathleen Sandoval, Children’s Cabinet Director of Operations and First Lady of Nevada. “There are hundreds of other teens who need help because there safety is threatened at home, school or in the community.”
The Children’s Cabinet introduced Project Safe Place for Northern Nevada in 2003. Now, when the Children’s Cabinet receives a project safe place call, a case manager meets the youth in person, provides temporary shelter and then assists with family counseling and case management.
“The focus is on keeping these kids safe, helping them find living arrangements, and then finally helping them reunite with families,” Sandoval said.
Along with the Children’s Cabinet, other local organizations such as the Eddy House, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, and the Reno Youth Network have also helped keep kids off the streets. The Center for Aspiring Youth will accommodate children from 12 to 17. It will house 16 beds for eight boys and eight girls. The Cottage of Change caters to older youth from 18 to 24 years old who have outgrown foster care. This facility, similar to dorm style housing, features four beds for boys and four beds for girls. The staff helps kids become more self-sufficient with reaching goals, going to school, getting a job and budgeting.
Sandoval said that the greatest challenge with the building project was identifying and creating an appropriate location to construct the new buildings. Through a partnership with the state, the Children’s Cabinet acquired the buildings on the Galletti campus in Sparks and began preparing the campus for use in 2013 with a $1.1 million grant from the US Department of Labor along with local funding and private donations. Going forward, she added that funding and running the daily operation of the two buildings will continue to be a challenge. This includes staffing and training along with the complete transformation of a former medical facility into a new home for kids seeking emergency safety and shelter.