Project HOPE Returns to Houghton County
Looking for Foster Parents to Provide a Temporary Safe Harbor for Children in Need
Houghton County, Michigan—Project HOPE has returned to Houghton County to provide programs, services, and emergency shelter for homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth. The need for foster care in the Upper Peninsula is significant and growing. According to 2014 data from the National Runaway Safeline, seventy-five percent of youth who called identified shelter as their unmet need, and from 2011 to 2012, calls to the safeline originating from the Upper Peninsula nearly quadrupled.
Project HOPE is a comprehensive shelter and family-strengthening program designed to provide emergency shelter for homeless or runaway youth, reunification services with families when possible, and assistance in finding other stable living. The program also helps youth who are at risk of running away or becoming homeless through a wide array of prevention services. All services are confidential, voluntary, and free of charge. Funding for the program was made available by a competitive federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and is being administered as an extension of Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula.
“Homelessness looks different in our area,” said Jim Boggio, Runaway and Homeless Youth Specialist for Project HOPE. “Most homeless teenagers are bouncing from home to home instead of being out on the streets. Even knowing that there was a lot of need, I was still surprised by how young homelessness can start in our community. It’s our job to work on early prevention and to help youth in crisis build skills they’ll have for life.”
Project HOPE wants area youth who have run away, are thinking about running away, are homeless, or are about to become homeless to know that the program is available to them with a wide range of services to fit their individual needs. These services include, but are not limited to: 24/7 crisis intervention, temporary emergency shelter, intensive youth and family strengthening services, food, transportation, life skills training, mediation services, recreation, and positive youth development activities. Youth can be referred to Project HOPE by anyone, including themselves, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week by calling or texting the HOPE Crisis Line at 906-281-0937.
Project HOPE is currently in need of volunteers to become short-term foster parents. Children are placed in short-term foster care when their family, for one reason of another, is unable to provide them with the basic level of safety and protection that children need. Project HOPE staff would work with the youth every single day, and reunification with a family member, when appropriate, would be the primary goal during this period. The role of a foster parent would be to provide a safe, stable, and caring environment during a time of greatest need.
“By becoming a short-term foster parent, community members can change a life in under three weeks,” said Brian Foreman, Western Upper Peninsula Services Supervisor. “Our ultimate goal is to never have to use our emergency short-term foster home services, but in certain circumstances, it is important to have safe and stable homes in place. Our goal is to find community members that have successfully raised teenagers who want to help kids in need by sharing their experience, expertise, and home.”
If someone is interested in becoming a foster parent, or wants more information, they can email Lynn Pittman, Foster Care Licensing Worker at Child & Family Services of the Upper Peninsula, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (906) 228-4050 extension 121. Anyone can make a difference in a child’s life just by being in it.
Jim Boggio and Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula would like to thank the Keweenaw Community Foundation for its partnership in promoting Project HOPE.
Child & Family Services of the Upper Peninsula is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian agency that has been serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for over 90 years. For more information on Child & Family Services of the Upper Peninsula, visit its website at www.cfsup.org. For more information on Project HOPE, follow it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/906HOPE.
Contact: Jim Boggio