Monica is a 14-year-old girl who was referred to CYS by her parents after she ran away from home. Typical of many teens, Monica has had a challenging few years. Her parents are divorced and she has a difficult relationship with her father. Monica’s father often drinks excessively, and he had been both emotionally and physically abusive when she was young. Monica currently lives with her mother, her older sister, and step-father, visiting with her father occasionally. Monica’s relationships with her sister and her step-father are also difficult.
When she came into Casa she told her counselor that she had been in an abusive dating relationship which left Monica feeling “broken” and depressed.
Combined with the sadness she felt about her father, and the lack of skills she had in dealing with her feelings, she started cutting and using drugs to cope. Eventually, Monica started having problems in school, and then she just stopped going at all. This led to problems at home with her mother, which led to increased depression and panic attacks.
Monica’s family came together and shared their concern for her safety. They decided to bring her to Casa Youth Shelter with the hope that Monica would be able to process and understand her trauma, and address the behaviors that were hurting her and her relationship with her family.
Monica was at Casa for about three weeks. She opened up to her counselor and began discussing the feelings she had been keeping inside. She learned new coping skills and began practicing effective communication skills. Monica and her family participated in family therapy sessions and they all expressed a strong desire to work through the issues that were causing so much conflict.
Monica returned home and the family continues to participate in aftercare counseling. Most importantly, Monica has begun working through the issues she has with her father, and Monica’s mother is developing a greater understanding of Monica’s feelings and behaviors. The family continues to work toward improving their relationships with increased communication and understanding.
Tay is a 16-year-old female who identified as questioning and uses they/them pronouns. Before coming to CYS, Tay lived at home with their parents and younger brother.
Tay was referred to us after they were admitted to the hospital for suicidal ideation. They had tried to kill themselves in the past in several ways, including setting up a noose but had called a hotline before completing because they decided they wanted to live at the last minute. Tay came to CYS hoping to increase trust and communication with their parents, as well as to work through their depression, deal with emotions, and learn coping skills.
In counseling sessions, Tay explained that past physical abuse when they were very young made it hard for them to feel safe enough to express emotions with their family. Tay felt like they didn’t belong or even were cared for at home by their family. In the few months before coming to CYS, Tay’s symptoms worsened, and after speaking with a friend they decided to reach out for help via hotlines. Tay’s parents did not understand Tay’s need for mental health services because their physical needs were being met. Their parents were convinced to call the police by Tay’s friend who understood the seriousness of Tay’s situation. After Tay’s first attempt at asking for help, police came to their house, where they determined the home was safe after speaking to Tay and evaluating their parents. Shortly after, Tay contacted a hotline and requested services, and was taken to a hospital. While at the hospital, Tay felt they gained useful skills and information, and appreciated the services.
Tay was at CYS for three weeks, had 14 individual sessions, and five family sessions, and participated in eight group therapy sessions. They left CYS to reunite with their parents at home, and they continue to actively participate in aftercare counseling, both individually and with their parents. Since leaving CYS, Tay and their father both show motivation to make changes to have more authentic communication at home, and Tay continues to work on increasing their ability to manage their symptoms of depression and to use assertive communication skills to better express their thoughts and feelings with their family.
Gus is a 16-year-old boy who was adopted into a family at the age of 5. He was removed from his mother’s care and placed in foster care. When he was adopted he came into a home with two older siblings and understandable feelings of loss, pain, and hurt. He struggled at home and at school as he grew up. His parents asked for help from the school and behavioral specialists to help their child. This resolved some of the pain for a while and Gus started having success in a new school. Soon his older brothers moved out and it was just him and his parents.
Shortly after the pandemic began, he started engaging in risky behaviors. He also became increasingly violent and emotionally hurtful in the home. After receiving a suspension from school and facing a possible expulsion his parents, not knowing what else to do, reached out to Casa Youth Shelter for help. Gus was receptive to services and began to participate right away. During the 4 individual sessions and 2 family sessions, he and his family found ways to talk to one another again.
Gus started to open up to his family about the loss and rejection he feels from his early childhood trauma. They found ways to support each other and remind themselves of the care they have for each other. Through the work they did in family therapy, the collaboration with their Casa Youth Shelter counselor, Gus’s outside therapist, and their therapeutic support team, the family gained confidence and felt ready to have Gus return home.
Gus and his family were thankful for the services provided at CYS. They stated it gave them the opportunity to focus on the essential issues within the family, provided the help Gus needed to open up and understand what he was feeling so they could all move forward in healing their family relationships.
Janette struggled for many years before coming to Casa Youth Shelter for help. She had been having a hard time since her parents divorced several years ago. When her father moved out of the house and spent less and less time with her, Janette became sad and fearful he would stop coming around entirely. She told her mother she wanted to see her father, but her mother began resenting her for wanting to spend time with him. All of the changes in her family increased Janette’s feelings of sadness and loss, eventually leading to low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide. Janette had gone to individual therapy before and felt it had been ineffective and insufficient; her parents also did not consider individual therapy to be beneficial but would not consider alternatives, like family therapy or an inpatient facility.
During her time at Casa Youth Shelter, Janette and her family had family therapy sessions for the first time, and Janette was able to identify how she was feeling and expressed this with her family openly. Through 12 individual and 3 family sessions, she successfully advocated for herself and pushed for the care she needed. Janette learned communication skills, built on her self-esteem, and practiced ways to continue to advocate for herself both in her family and in her daily life. While with us, Janette began to understand the depth of her depression and mental health needs, realizing she would be best supported and treated with the specialized care provided by an inpatient hospital unit. Through honest discussions with her parents in family sessions, Janette’s parents could understand her needs and support her in her next steps.
Janette exited our shelter safely, and her relationship with her family became strong enough that they were able to continue working together in a supportive loving way.
Shane arrived at midnight by himself. He said he hadn’t been home in ten months, but his parents would not let him come home until he stayed at Casa Youth Shelter. He told staff he was enrolled in school but hadn’t attended in a while. His school counselor told him he could graduate on time if he goes back “right now”. Shane came to us so he could go home and finish high school. He told his counselor he did not care about his relationships with his parents because he didn’t think they cared about him. His only goal was to go home so he could complete high school.
Shane had been at CYS on two other occasions several years prior, staying for 2-3 weeks. He was living with his father and stepmother and had occasional visits with his birth mother who was unstable and often absent from his life. He was angry and resentful; he acted out toward his stepmom and ran away when there was conflict. While he and his parents actively participated in counseling services, each time he returned home he would get into a conflict with his parents and leave. His father and stepmother felt hopeless and concerned that he would never graduate from high school and end up living on the street.
During this last intake, Shane’s parents told CYS staff that he has been consistently running away for the last three years and was not attending school since his biological mother had passed away. His father believes Shane has not been able to grieve properly, never revealing how he feels to others. They said he does not listen to authority figures and is so far behind in school that he cannot graduate without a credit recovery program.
After the first family session, three things were clear: 1) his parents moved while he was on the streets and feared him returning home because they didn’t know who he had been associating and his past volatility and runaway behavior; 2) he would not be able to graduate high school unless he entered a residential credit recovery program, and 3) his parents love and care for him and Shane desperately wants to have a relationship with them.
Shane remained at CYS for two months while his father and stepmother made arrangements for him to transfer to Sunburst Youth Academy (SYA). While with us, he attended 13 groups, and 19 individual and 9 family counseling sessions. He remained motivated and focused on his goal of mending his relationships with his father and stepmother and set a new goal to join the military once he received his high school diploma. Shane worked on his HS credits and developed effective communication and conflict resolution skills that he used in sessions with his family. Together, they established a solid plan for Shane to successfully receive his HS diploma and enlist in the military when he was done. Through counseling, they all worked through their fears, resentments, and losses. Shane exited our two weeks before he was scheduled to enter SYA so he could have quality time with his parents and continue working on their relationships at home.
Lisa’s depression had led to multiple suicide attempts and hospitalizations. Communication with her family was deteriorating as Lisa struggled to connect with them and instead isolated herself in her room. Most recently her parents had gone out of town, and left Lisa with a sibling. Lisa attempted suicide and passed out, making her parents rush home to take her to the hospital. With her parents overwhelmed by their daughter’s mental health condition, Lisa and her family requested resources for foster care from her outside therapist, who suggested coming to Casa Youth Shelter before deciding.
In the beginning of her stay at Casa Youth Shelter, Lisa had difficulty expressing herself and coping with her emotions. She suffered a panic attack during her first week at the shelter. Staff effectively assisted Lisa in managing her anxiety, stabilized her panic attack, and efficiently transitioned her back into the shelter program. During individual sessions with her counselor, Lisa learned how to express herself more effectively. In one of the first family sessions with her mother, Lisa’s self-expression was met with her mother’s resistance, which led to an increased sense of hopelessness. However, working with her counselor she gained motivation and Lisa was eventually able to engage her mother in meaningful discussions. Lisa’s mother began to better understand her daughter, and they both started to recognize the importance of effective communication. Lisa gained confidence in coping with her emotions by expressing her needs to her mother instead of isolating herself. Lisa remained at Casa Youth Shelter for 21 days and participated in 10 individual counseling sessions, 4 family sessions, and 12 group therapy sessions. Together with their counselor, she and her mother were able to develop a plan to reunite safely at home.
During the follow up by her counselor, Lisa expressed gratitude for her counselor’s support in expressing her identity to those around her. She conveyed more hope for the future and wanted to remain with her family. Stabilized, she has been able to return to regular clinical services with her outside therapist.
Lyndsey, within months of turning 18, was on the brink of homelessness. Severe conflict forced her mother to bring her to Casa Youth Shelter. In counseling, she revealed a troubled childhood, including a sexual assault. Casa Youth Shelter staff and counseling helped her navigate not only an upcoming law enforcement interview, but also her overwhelming emotions. She remained anxious that she would have nowhere to go in a matter of weeks and no way to get to her high school graduation. Immediate action was put in place for graduation and family reunification. Lyndsey received individual counseling while her mother began attending family counseling and parenting classes. The lines of communication began to open, and Lyndsey was joyfully reunited with her family. She also received her diploma and is currently attending community college.
Joaquin was addicted to crystal meth at age 9, in rehab at 12, in a gang at 13, and became a father at 16. He was violent toward his mother, and continued gang activity and drug use, which led his mother to give up custody. Severe conflicts at home and probation violations left him with two choices: Juvenile Hall or Casa Youth Shelter. During his first days here, he was guarded and refused to participate. But through counseling and the structured environment, he began making profound progress. While at Casa Youth Shelter, he became more cooperative in his treatment and in the house. He was thankful, saying that he finally felt accepted and cared for. His demeanor changed from reserved and angry to hopeful. Currently living in a group home, Joaquin is doing very well and is appreciative of his second chance.
Amy’s mother struggled to find stable housing and employment, and to maintain her sobriety, for most of Amy’s life. After losing their apartment, Amy’s mother fled, leaving her and her three siblings in an unsafe environment. Amy found safety at Casa Youth Shelter. She was fraught with guilt and depression, admitting to several suicide attempts in the past. Family sessions started out angry and accusatory, but eventually made great progress. Unfortunately, Amy’s mother lost custody of all four of the children. She needed to find housing and counseling services to get them back. She began attending parenting classes. Casa Youth Shelter provided her with referrals for low income housing and counseling. After a remarkable turnaround, the family has been reunited and has safe housing. Casa continues to provide the family with resources and donations of basic needs items.
Homeless and desperate, Justin came to Casa Youth Shelter. He and his mother had been evicted from their apartment and his mother, in the hospital, was unable to participate in his life. His 18th birthday was in 20 days. Recently enlisted in the Marine Corps, Justin was scheduled for basic training—pending completion of his high school requirements. During his time at Casa Youth Shelter, Justin received tutoring, and earned his high school diploma. He was determined to leave the house on his birthday, so our staff put all resources to work to ensure he stayed on track once he was gone. Now living with a sister he reconnected with while at Casa Youth Shelter, Justin got his driver’s license and has secured two part-time jobs. He maintains his plan to enter the military.
Nick struggled for years with his sexual orientation, depression, and thoughts of suicide. Raised in a conservative household, he was afraid to express his feelings. His internalized shame grew, and he developed feelings of low self-worth, gradually causing him to become closed-off and angry. He began lashing out at his parents. Once Nick came out to his family, they stopped talking to him. His school counselor referred him to Casa Youth Shelter, where Nick worked on managing his anger and improving his communication skills. During family therapy sessions, he and his parents were able to resolve misunderstandings. Nick was motivated to improve their relationship, complete high school, and eventually go to college. Casa Youth Shelter referred him to community programs specific to his needs. Nick and his family are doing well and continuing with aftercare and the Parenting and Teen Drop-In programs.
Jenna was referred to Casa Youth Shelter by her therapist due to suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, and recent methamphetamine use. Jenna spoke of recent multiple sexual assaults by several different men in her neighborhood. She came to Casa Youth Shelter on the eve of her 18th birthday. Jenna was at high risk for suicide, with all the variables in place: an upcoming event (her 18th birthday); a plan (to leave the shelter and run in front of a car or overdose on drugs); and the means (cars and drugs). Jenna told her therapist that, because of “voices” telling her to commit suicide, she would be unable to stop herself. Collaboratively, her therapist, the police, and the Crisis Assessment Team had her transported to a psychiatric hospital. Casa Youth Shelter was an emergency safety net and succeeded in saving Jenna’s life.
“I feel as if Casa gave me perspective as to what a real home and family are like. I feel more loved and cared for here than I have anywhere.”
Due to abuse and neglect, Ryan had lived in foster placements until he was 13, when an aunt and uncle stepped in. However, after a conflict escalated to physical altercations, his aunt and uncle brought Ryan to Casa Youth Shelter. Ryan received individual and group therapy, and his aunt and uncle participated in family sessions. Ryan developed insight into his own actions, acknowledging that it was easier for him to fight and push people away than to express and receive love. He became aware that being emotionally vulnerable was risky, and had often resulted in abandonment. In counseling, Ryan began to express his emotions and took risks with his aunt and uncle. He returned home to his family, where they have grown closer and continue to participate in counseling.
Reunited with his father at 14 years old, David began to have “meltdowns.” After receiving brief treatment for emotional and behavioral issues, he and his dad moved to California. Unable to find work, they fell into homelessness. David’s father brought him to Casa Youth Shelter to find some stability. David was given clothes from the donation closet; he said that the clothes were the “nicest clothes [he] ever had.” David loved to read books, but was unable because he didn’t have proper glasses. Casa Youth Shelter staff worked with Target so his father could take him for a free eye exam and glasses. David was steady during his stay at Casa Youth Shelter, and began to feel hopeful for the future. At his exit, David was looking forward to entering Job Corps or Sunburst Academy, both of which would provide him long-term stability until he turns 18.
Jeffrey was referred to Casa Youth Shelter due to problems at home, including a lack of personal hygiene, resistance to doing chores, impulsive and isolative behaviors, and conflicts that had become physically combative. Once at Casa Youth Shelter, it became clear that Jeffrey’s behavior indicated serious mental illness. His fear of bathing, paranoid delusions, and an inability to socialize indicated schizophrenia. It was possible that he would be homeless by his 18th birthday. Jeffrey’s father was given information to get his son assessed at the hospital and, if necessary, held until appropriate placement options were secured. Jeffrey was eventually transferred to a long-term care facility and is being evaluated for appropriate foster care. His father is grateful for the support he and his son received from Casa Youth Shelter.
As an undocumented Mexican citizen who came to California in pursuit of a better life, Armando found himself homeless. Living on the streets, he sought help from the Mexican Consulate. He wanted to go back to Mexico. The Consulate brought him to Casa Youth Shelter while travel arrangements were made. Together, Casa Youth Shelter, Armando’s family in Mexico, and the Mexican Consulate created a plan to help him return to Mexico. Armando experienced depression and anxiety about returning to his family in Mexico. At Casa Youth Shelter, his counselor helped him with coping skills. Armando was thankful for the support and said that Casa Youth Shelter was the only place he felt accepted since arriving in the U.S. At exit, he was happy and excited to return home. This truly embodies the mission and vision of Casa Youth Shelter.
When Joe and his family were evicted from their home, they lived in a park. Joe then dropped out of school. When his mother was able to get her car back, they “moved in” to the car. Depressed, Joe was desperate to not live in a car any longer. He often went hungry, or lived on chips and junk food. Joe searched for shelter online and found Casa Youth Shelter, who has provided him with new shoes, new clothing, and a warm bed. Joe and his mother have conflicts, and he wants to improve their relationship. His mother said that she is glad they have Casa Youth Shelter until things can get better, and Joe said he is happy to be here. He understands that he needs to follow the rules because he loves his cozy room, the home cooked meals, and the chance to talk to his counselor.
Marta’s mother was drug-addicted and abusive. Marta was taken into protective custody at four years old, and she and her siblings were separated. By the time she was 12, she had been in 10 different foster homes. She was finally adopted and reunited with her siblings; however, there was significant conflict at home. Depressed, she began running away, cutting herself, and attempted suicide on five separate occasions. Once hospitalized, Marta was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Marta came to Casa Youth Shelter hoping to learn better coping skills and to rebuild her relationship with her mother. During her stay at Casa Youth Shelter, Marta was positive and engaged. She felt accepted and cared for. “I feel as if Casa Youth Shelter gave me perspective as to what a real home and family are like. I feel more loved and cared for here than I have anywhere.”
Kevin was homeless, and his grandmother no longer wanted him. He was taken to a shelter in another county, but had difficulty there. He was withdrawn and non-compliant, and was ultimately asked to leave. Kevin’s mental health issues created challenges: he had a psychotic disorder that made him paranoid and delusional, believing people hated him and wanted to hurt him. He was afraid to bathe or use cleaning products. With reassurance and support from Casa Youth Shelter staff, he not only was able to shower, he interacted with the other residents. His stay at Casa Youth Shelter lasted 17 days, during which he celebrated his 17th birthday, and received his first ever birthday cake. He exited with a stuffed animal he had made in the sewing group, which he said made him feel loved.