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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The program will be offered through short weekend sessions and will cover a different topic each session.
• 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.
JL Long MS
Thomas Jefferson HS