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Focus on Teens offers a holistic approach to reach teens at the early stages of homelessness. FoT, in collaboration with the Dallas Independent School District’s Homeless Education Program, provides a Drop In Center to homeless and at risk students in order to meet their most basic and essential human needs. FoT offers four core program focus areas. Our programs may be implemented on a school wide basis or used to serve students on an individual basis.

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1Drop In Center
Through the Drop In Center, FoT provides a “one stop shop” to teens who have nowhere else to turn. The Center provides food, clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, and referrals. These referrals work in partnership with school social workers or designees and with the DISD Homeless Education Program, and include resources for shelter, medical and psychological needs.

In addition to the basics of food, clothing and shelter, the Drop In Center also provides many important items that are often overlooked. While seemingly small, these items can mean the difference between a homeless teen dropping out of classes and remaining engaged with his/her peers. Recently, through the Center FoT has been able to provide discretionary bus passes to students for personal use, a prom dress, a yearbook and a cane for a disabled teen The Drop In Center currently exists in eight high schools. There is not any other program like it in North Texas. From our experience of working with adult homelessness, Focus on Teens and the Homeless Education Program have determined that the program can be appropriately expanded. Therefore, in order to initiate a comprehensive strategy whereby the best available prevention model is available within one strategic program, FoT, in collaboration with the Homeless Education Program, is seeking to expand the Drop In Centers to additional locations.
2Food and Supply Pantry Program
Available to any Dallas ISD school, supplies of all types: non-perishable food, school supplies, hygiene products, diapers, additional baby care items, backpacks, school uniforms, and other miscellaneous immediate needs required by the students who seek them.

This program will allow students, either homeless or otherwise, to have their basic needs met immediately or delivered to them as soon as possible. The goal is to not allow any student to go without their basic daily needs.
3Drug Abuse Prevention and Awareness
According to nn4Youth.org, (National Network for Youth), approximately 37% of homeless teens abuse drugs. Additional research shows that homeless teens are three times more likely to use marijuana and 18 times more likely to use crack than their peers. As part of FoT’s prevention model, we strive to address challenges that impact each individual student. If these shortfalls are left unaddressed as teens, the student’s chances of adult homelessness increases.

Therefore, in order to address the issue of drug abuse, FoT offers drug prevention and awareness classes in partnership with UTD. The program is offered through a unique model of tailoring the curriculum to the individual needs of the school. Each school faces unique demographic and cultural challenges. Our curriculum allows the program to be tailored to the unique needs of each school, by utilizing the expertise of the school’s social services staff members, counselors and teachers who are focused on the unique challenges faced by the student’s on their campus.
4Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas
Over 50% of homeless teens experience depression. Many others have anxiety disorders or suffer from PTSD due to past or current violence in their lives. Sadly, Homeless teens are more likely to commit suicide than their peers. In fact, statistics show that drugs, homelessness and suicide are wickedly tied together in a seemingly bleak and unescapable triangle of hopelessness.

In order to help at-risk teens suffering from suicidal thoughts or tendencies, FoT offers suicide prevention services in collaboration with the Suicide and Crisis Center of Texas. The Crisis Center offers a 24 hour hotline and screening services for teens at immediate risk of suicidal behaviors. As part of our prevention model, FoT offers suicide awareness seminars to students and school staff. These seminars will focus on strategies and solutions to recognize potential dangers and prevent teen suicide.
5Mental Health and Healthy Living Awareness
Through a professional partnership with Dr. Staci Bloom, who holds a PhD in Adolescent Psychology, FoT provides information and discussions on mental health issues facing homeless teens. The program is designed to help school faculty and parents understand the mental health issues facing this population. The program focus on helping adults identify problem behaviors such as Bulima, PTSD, depression and offers solutions and referrals for assistance.

The program will be offered through short weekend sessions and will cover a different topic each session.
6“Get Started” Intern Program / Student Mentoring
Another program that is unique and specific to FoT is our Counselor Assistance Program. Through our work with the counselors at many school campuses, FoT has realized that the counselors often do not have the time to focus on the unique needs of individual students. In order to assist the counselor with their often overwhelming workload, FoT supplies qualified undergrad interns from The University of Texas at Dallas to aid, in any needed capacity, the social services staff at each school, but particularly in the area of individual, peer to peer mentoring for students identified as “in need” by the DISD staff. The interns provide 10-15 hours per week of assistance and allow the staff to complete their tasks and focus on other individual students. In the future, FoT also plans to offer the program to Masters and Doctoral candidates. This program is the only one of its kind in North Texas.
7Additional Programs
In addition to the programs outlined above, FoT also provides:

• Mentor Match – This nonprofit organization partners with FoT to provide our teens with an internship or job shadowing in the field of their choice

• Individual Mentoring – Under the direction of the school social worker and FoT, role models are matched with individual students to help them navigate the complicated world of being a homeless teen in school. The mentor also provides referrals for vocational training, college and career counseling and vocational rehabilitation.

• Legal Aid Counseling – Through community partnerships, FoT offers referral for legal counseling to teens who have had run-ins with the law or have been incarcerated.
8Schools Served
Madison
Samuell
Patton
Manns
Roosevelt
Lincoln
Woodrow
Maya Angelou
Tasby
JL Long MS
Thomas Jefferson HS
Hogg Elementary
Rangel
North Dallas
Molina
Zaragoza
Rusk
Sunset
Wilmer Hutchins
Chavez
Spruce.
6th Annual Eric Nadel Birthday Bash!

Live at the Kessler Theater in Dallas, TX. Visit the Event Page for more info!

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