June 15, 2015
Youth Consultation Service (YCS) is among these.
A premier nonprofit provider of behavioral health services, YCS advocates for, educates, shelters, and cares for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable children. The organization also provides home and therapeutic residential care for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
With more than 90 programs across New Jersey, YCS provides services to more than 4,400 children and young adults each year.
According to Richard Mingoia, President/CEO of the YCS Foundation, it is often a long and tumultuous road that brings children to the safe haven of a YCS group home.
“Since YCS’s founding in 1918, the needs of children at risk have grown in scope and complexity,” says Mingoia. “Today, not only do the YCS children require a safe haven in which to sleep, eat, and heal, but also many of them are totally reliant on the dedicated YCS staff to help them prepare for the adult world beyond the protection of a group home.”
Many of the children have spent their entire lives in shelters and group homes. They may have been abused, abandoned, or traumatized by the very people who should have been caring for and loving them. Sadly, many have never had a loving parent or grandparent in their life, someone “keeping an eye” on their well-being and protecting them.
Spotlight on Sara
Sara* is nine years old. She loves purple and has a wide, albeit rare smile.
When Sara was six, her abusive father left the home. Though the abuse stopped, Sara’s mother was left without a means of support, ultimately turning to heavy drug use. After Sara’s home caught fire, local police found her and her brother living in squalor and sent them to a foster home.
Sara and her brother would go on to live in three different foster homes in under two years. When Sara’s brother was scheduled to move again – this time without her – Sara tried to kill herself. The attempted suicide failed, and after a short stay at a local hospital, Sara arrived at a YCS home.
Sara is now getting the clinical care she needs to cope with her suffering; she also gets to see her brother, who is also living in a YCS group home since. For their safety, Sara’s mother is no longer a part of her or her brother’s lives.
YCS Therapeutic Summer Camp
In addition to providing group homes, YCS also offers summer camp – a place for young people to spend time outdoors and just be kids.
Like Sara, many of the YCS children have suffered trauma or have special needs that are not being met at home, making summer camp an ideal escape. By giving these children the opportunity to run and play with peace of mind, camp returns some of the childhood that may have been taken away from them.
According to Richard Mingoia, “this summer escape is so important to the developmental and emotional well-being of the children of YCS.”
Mingoia added that, given state budget restraints, the organization seeks support from additional CFNJ fundholders. To support the work of YCS in New Jersey, and to send more at-risk youth to summer camp, contact Margarethe Laurenzi at 973-267-5533.
Visit YCS online at www.ycs.org.