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Spectrum to open new drop-in center for at-risk youth in Franklin County

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 8:23 AM EST
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - A drop-in center for at-risk kids hasn’t been available in St. Albans for more than a decade, but that’s changing.

Spectrum Youth and Family Services has had two staff members working in the St. Albans area for about five years with young people in the foster care system. After relaying a need back to Spectrum, it was time for Spectrum to expand its reach.

“There are young people in the community who could use a safe place to come,” said Mark Redmond, the executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services.

That safe space is set to be at 219 Lake Street in St. Albans.

Redmond says based on expressed need from employees working in the area, it was time to take up residence in the city.

“It’s near where they live and we have access to other resources,” Redmond said.

Redmond says the center will be catering to those who are homeless, runaways or are dealing with substance abuse. Its basic function is to provide at-risk youth in the community basic services like warmth, a shower, laundry or a hot meal. But the center’s new program manager, says they plan to do much more.

“We will have trained recovery coaches, case management services, we can help them build a resume, look for jobs,” said Stefanie Comstock, the newly hired program manager for the drop-in center.

Comstock has a background in youth services in different realms and lives in the area. As she looks around her new space, she says she sees nothing but potential.

“They’ve expressed a need in Franklin County and I’m so excited that Spectrum is going to be here and we can fill that need,” Comstock said.

Danielle Lindley Mitchell is the director of children, youth and family services at Northwestern Counseling and Support Services or NCSS, a community partner. She says as the drop-in center fills the basic needs, youth are more likely to continue outreach for help.

“As those things become addressed, we know youth are going to be more available to kind of look at mental health support and treatment and be available for more consistent services. So, I see Spectrum as an ability to connect youth to our services and provide them support along the way so they can continue to receive the support that we can offer,” said Mitchell.

NCSS says the work they do combined with the work Spectrum does will dovetail as a collective impact model, supporting one another to identify the gaps and be creative and collaborative to meet the needs of vulnerable youth.

“We’ve seen an increase in the last, especially this year with the pandemic, but even before that we had started seeing an increase of youth struggle with maintaining in the home with their parents,” said Heather Getty, the team leader for adolescent services at NCSS.

While they won’t have their counselors in-house at the drop-in center, they say it can be a meeting place and an informal starting point for formal help.

“Meet some of those youth that maybe haven’t been coming through our doors in the traditional sense, and be able to meet them where they are at and bring the services to them,” said Getty.

Once open in February, the center is expected to be available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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