Project 16:49 is a local non-profit organization serving Rock County’s unaccompanied homeless teens. We believe every child deserves an opportunity to succeed. To that end, Project 16:49 ensures access to the services and support these students need to remain in school, graduate and become self-sufficient adults. This is accomplished primarily through two avenues:
- Securing access to safe and stable housing
- Providing case management and support to youth as they work to complete an individual goal plan. Plans address seven key areas, and are designed to help youth overcome barriers and acquire knowledge and skills to live independently. See our Program Summary below for more information.
Who We Serve
Our target population is unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 12–20, who are enrolled (or eligible and willing to be enrolled) in a Rock County school district or a GED program. In the 2012–13 academic year, Rock County school districts identified more than 160 youth who met the criteria of being both homeless (not having an overnight residence that is fixed, regular or adequate) and unaccompanied (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian). Predictably, graduation rates for this population are low (75%).
The reasons for these students’ situations are varied, but most often include: serious family conflict, abuse or neglect, domestic violence, parental rejection or abandonment, parental incarceration or criminal behaviors, and/or parents with untreated addictions or mental health problems. The majority of this population come from a background of poverty.
Project 16:49 serves as the intake portal to services for Rock County’s unaccompanied homeless youth population, and partners wherever possible with other existing organizations/programs to avoid duplication of services.
Some youth seeking assistance from Project 16:49 may need only information and referrals. This is provided without requiring them to complete an assessment and intake. For youth in need of services beyond information and referral, and who are willing to complete an assessment, Project 16:49 ensures the provision of basic needs: housing, food, clothing, access to health care, and safety. Further, Project 16:49 provides case management services to ensure its participants have access to the supports they need to reach their goals, including: transportation, housing, education support, independent living and job skills, and adult guidance.
Project 16:49 is structured to provide service through three programs in order to best serve our unaccompanied homeless teens:
- Youth Advocacy Program. This program does not provide housing but does provide the case management support and independent living skills needed by all of the youth. It also provides support for youth who are under the age of 16.
- For youth under the age of 18, a Transitional Living Program is available through our partnership with Safe Families for Children. Safe Families screens and authorizes volunteer host families who are willing to provide housing, supervision and support in their own homes. These families receive training specific to working with homeless unaccompanied teens.
- For youth over the age of 18, an Independent Living Program offers supervised shared housing.
As part of their participation in Project 16:49, youth in all three programs prepare an individual goal plan that addresses seven key areas: housing, education, employment, life skills, physical and mental health, community connections, and cultural & personal identity formation. These areas represent the “components of a holistic approach to serving unaccompanied homeless youth” as identified by Casey Family Foundation research. The plan includes goals, action steps, identification of support and resources needed, and a timeline.
Case management assistance provided by Project 16:49 will be specific to the individual youth’s situation and goals, and may include any or all of the following:
- Assistance accessing/obtaining basic needs: shelter, food, clothing, health care, transportation.
- Assessment of individual strengths and needs.
- Guidance and support in setting and attaining individual goals in 7 key areas: housing, education, employment/employment skills, independent living/life skills, physical and mental health, cultural and personal identity, and community connections/supportive relationships.
- Referral to appropriate agencies, and assistance in accessing services and resources, such as: independent living and employment skills training, food programs, physical and mental health care, mentor connections, and more.
- Direct financial assistance to aid in school and work access.
Project 16:49’s case manager, in conjunction with the schools’ homeless liaisons and applicable host families or house parents, meet with each participant regularly to support and monitor his/her progress.
Project 16:49 youth will graduate from the program after they have completed the goals on their individual plans and are ready to live independently or with the support of an adult transitional living program—such as ECHO way or Salvation Army Pathways—or are able to reunite with parents or guardians. Youth who graduate from Project 16:49 may continue to participate in Project 16:49 workshops and activities, and will be encouraged to continue communicating with Project 16:49 staff. Project 16:49 will conduct a formal exit interview to gain insight from the youth about their experiences with the program and ways in which it can be improved. Formal follow-up surveys/visits will be conducted at 3, 6, and 12 months following program completion.