My career was spent working with victims and perpetrators of violent crimes in Phoenix and one of the most challenging struggles my team and I faced were finding resources for homeless teens. Paz De Cristo is the only organization that provides homeless services for teens and Tumbleweed is the only teen shelter for a city with a population of over a million people.

What’s most frustrating was that Child Protective Services (CPS) would intervene in the home but caseworkers were so overwhelmed that it wasn’t enough help. In 2014 the state Governor disbanded Child Protective services. Over 6000 cases of abuse that had been reported were never investigated and this became a scandal within the state government. Due to this our team had a insufficient percent success rate of getting teens who left home due to abuse the help they desperately needed, both male and female.

We were able to help two teens by manipulating every loophole we could find. I won’t give specifics but sometimes you just have to do whatever you have to.

We were able to get one male off the streets who was removed from his home by CPS after being found locked in a cage at seven years old. It was determined he was both physically and sexually abused. He was placed in foster care after foster care until he fell through the cracks and ended up on the streets at 15 years old. The other was a 17 year old female who was pregnant with her rapists child.

We got them both in permanent housing with wrap around services. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t enough resources for teens when this is such a vital age. I believe, from what I saw anyway, that the state government was focused on children and families and not adolescents or males. This demographic for some reason is left to fend for themselves.

I’m sharing your article everywhere. You have a voice that needs to be heard.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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