Youth & Shelter Services (YSS) was recently awarded two major, three-year federal grants by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The first is a three-year grant for $161,000 per year for the expansion and operation of its Street Outreach Program primarily in Des Moines. The Street Outreach Grant funding will provide a large boost to the service capacity of Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC), the YSS branch in Des Moines. This award will expand staff support and strengthen the IHYC Street Outreach Program in providing a broad array of services to runaway and homeless youth, age 21 and under. These services are designed to build relationships between staff and runaway, homeless and street youth with the ultimate goal of keeping youth safe and helping them to leave the streets.

"The Street Outreach Program works to respond to the immediate needs of the youth in crisis by helping them with food, clothing, emergency shelter, survival aid, treatment, counseling and referrals, individual assessments and providing follow-up support or aftercare, George Belitsos, CEO of YSS, said.

Also awarded was a three-year grant for $166,000 per year for Basic Center Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, which YSS will administer through the Central Iowa Runaway and Homeless Youth Services Network, covering an area of 28 counties from the center of Iowa to the Minnesota border. This grant will benefit all five YSS community-based centers in Central Iowa, as well as Rosedale Shelter in Ames, and two YSS subcontractors in Fort Dodge and Mason City. The Network provides 52 licensed youth shelter beds of which 19 are available for runaway and homeless youth. Other Network resources include seven community-based service centers, six transitional living centers, two Project Safe Place programs and scattered site apartments.

During the 36-month project, the Network will provide emergency shelter for 600 runaway and homeless youth and an additional 270 will receive non-shelter counseling services. YSS efforts will also focus on making services more accessible to runaway and homeless youth and their families by providing crisis intervention to 1,500 and outreach to approximately 5,400 during the three-year project period.