The Gwinnett Children’s Shelter offers crisis stabilization programs to youth and their families 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We serve a diverse mix of more than 150 youth through our shelter services annually. We serve females age 12-18 and males age 12-21.
Whether the children are runaways, homeless, abused, neglected or abandoned, these children often have nowhere else to turn and no idea what their next step should be. The Gwinnett Children’s Shelter is here to care for them and help them find a new path. Here are the different types of shelter services we provide to youth in need.
RUNAWAY & HOMELESS YOUTH
Our facilities enable runaway and homeless children the ability to get off the street and have a safe place to stay where they can stabilize and get the care they need. Runaway and homeless youth are most-often served through our Project Safe Place Program. These teens typically stay in our care for about 60 days, until we can help them find their best next step.
When teens and their families are in crisis and something’s got to give, our Guardian Placement program is a great option to explore. Sometimes families reach an impasse and need a reprieve from each other to break the tension, gain a new perspective, and get some outside help to better communicate and problem-solve. Parents and guardians can turn to us and voluntarily enroll their kids in our Guardian Placement Program for up to 21 days. Teen, parents and guardians are expected to actively participate in counseling sessions during this time. A dedicated therapist is there to support you every step of the way. They help determine what each family needs to work through their crisis and define both short-term and long-term goals, so solutions can be found.
CHILDREN IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY OF THE STATE
When a child is removed from their home due to abuse, neglect, family violence or abandonment, they are placed in protective custody of the State. Some are sent to our care via the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) and others through the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Children placed by DJJ are placed at GCS as an alternative to detention and are non-violent offenders. The average stay in our short-term program is six months.
TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAM FOR YOUNG WOMEN
Some circumstances our youth face require a long-term solution. The Gwinnett Children’s Shelter offers a home setting that can house up to eight girls who need a place to grow into successful adults. The young women in this program attend school and have the opportunity to earn the privilege of holding a job, dating, participating in after school sports and other off-site activities. They maintain contact with their families, when appropriate, through on and off-site visits, passes, and agency-provided family counseling and reconciliation work. The goal of this program is to allow these girls to make a home for themselves here until they transition to college or other independent living.
The Gwinnett Children’s Shelter provides services to youth from a youth development approach in which each youth is seen as a unique and dynamic individual with specific strengths, needs and goals. We acknowledge that youth and their families have the inherent power to solve their own problems while maintaining integrity and dignity. We focus on the assets youth bring with them to our program, and help them grow these assets to increase their competency in social skills, work readiness, academic achievement, and community involvement. This strength-based approach underlies all aspects of the agency’s work with youth.
We do so much more than just providing shelter. Children participating in our programs have a dedicated team of personnel to work along-side them to ensure their stay with GCS is successful.
- Intake Coordinators help craft a plan of action for each child and oversee their case throughout their stay with us, always advocating for the best interest of each child uniquely.
- Resident Advisors monitor and provide instruction and direction for their day-to- day living, crisis management and daily counseling.
- Licensed Counselors actively work to support them through group, individual and family counseling as needed.
- Our Education Coordinator works to keep residents on track academically, overseeing each child’s educational needs and progress.
- Food Service Staff provides them with 3 nutritional meals and 2 snacks each day.
Additionally, through our community outreach programs we touch the lives of over 6,500 youth and 200 families each year. We offer ongoing support to help youth and families heal from their trauma and start anew.
Our goal is to provide a positive environment for change and growth so those we serve can find their way to a new life full of hope and promise.