For readers unfamiliar with Casa Youth Shelter would you please take a few moments to describe the agency.
Casa Youth Shelter was established in 1978 by Myldred E. Jones, a true leader and social work pioneer. As a little girl, Myldred knew that when she grew up she wanted to make sure no child was unsafe or living on the streets. After she graduated, she started a career as a probation officer in Los Angeles, CA and soon, thereafter became a social worker.
In 1941, she furthered her career as a social worker by becoming a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy soon after attack on Pearl Harbor. During her years of service, she worked with other officers to bring about equality and desegregate the Navy. When the civil rights movement woke the nation, she marched alongside other leaders from Selma to the steps of the Montgomery capitol.
She also served as a consultant to California’s Governor, Ronald Reagan. In this role, she conducted a study on youth problems in the state and initiated one of the first adolescent hotlines at Children’sHospital. (Source: http://hotlineofsocal.org/Historyx.html) This hotline eventually became known as The Hotline of Southern California where youth could call in to ask for help and seek advice. This hotline became the model for many similar services throughout the world.
Given her level of drive and determination, Myldred decided against simply leaving her estate behind after she died to establish a shelter. Instead, at sixty-nine years of age, she decided to sell her home and open up a shelter of her own. In just four hours after she opened its doors, Casa Youth Shelterreceived its first intake.
Today, Casa Youth Shelter has been in operation for 40 years. Built on the foundation of social justice, the shelter has been providing uninterrupted services for at risk youth, ages 12-17, who are currently in crisis and, or experiencing homelessness. The mission of Casa Youth Shelter is to provide a youth with a supportive environment and a comprehensive service delivery model that strives for an end goal of family reunification.
“Last year, 90% of the youth successfully went back to a safe home or safe place while working on most, if not all of their goals.”
-Pamela Sepulveda, LCSW, Community Outreach Director
However, Casa Youth Shelter services do not stop there! The organization also provides services to the community at large, such as non-residential counseling sessions, parenting classes, and a high school outreach program that educates and creates awareness around the particular social issues facing youth today.
What types of opportunities are available within your agency in terms of employment and, or volunteer opportunities for human service professionals?
All of our shelter staff who complete the crisis calls and conduct initial intakes are behavioral specialists, known as youth supervisors. The youth supervisors are primarily undergraduate and graduate-level students studying a human service related field. Every semester, we take 10-15 undergraduates and train them as field workers. At the end of the semester, we will open up on-call or part-time positions for 2-3 of them. They then typically go on to work at the shelter while they obtain their graduate degree. We also have a teaching program for Master-level students where we provide clinical and macro placement opportunities for MSWs and MFTs.
How is (Agency) distinguished from others?
We are one of 10 youth shelters located throughout Southern California. We are one of the few that are very clinically based. We strongly believe that in order for change to occur, we must not only address the immediate housing crisis, but also work to address all the systems the youth is interacting with such as, the family, the community, and their internal mental health. Additionally, we have been fortunate to have never closed!
For those entering the job market what advice would you give them in terms of making a good impression and standing out from other applicants?
Keep in mind that when you enter into social work job market, you are not always going to stay in the same job throughout your career. Be open to experiencing a job that might not be exactly what you are looking for, but can instead serve as a stepping stone. My experience in social work is that our career takes a path and that you need to be willing to step on the first stone to get going on that path. Also, I would tell job seekers to follow your passion, find where your interest lies and most likely there will be a social work job related. When you go to an interview be sure to communicate your passion!
Is there anything to share about Casa Youth Shelter.
If you are in Southern California, anyone can contact me for a tour of Casa Youth Shelter. We love opening our doors for tours and for people to come connect with us. We think that being accessible to other professionals and to the community is really important. Anyone looking to learn more about what a youth shelter looks like or what our specific programing looks like is more than welcome to stop by. There is still a lot of stigma around the word shelter and part of our goal at Casa Youth Shelter is to reduce that stigma and show people that our shelter is really just a home like any other. It’s located in a friendly neighborhood; it has a kitchen, a dining room, six bedrooms and a garden!
This year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the shelter opening. 40 years of watching Myldred’s dream of providing a safe home for youth to come to life. While our shelter’s mission has remained the same, our programs have become deeper in reach to the youth. Our shelter will be hosted various events and campaigns throughout the year to celebrate our 40 years of services. Please visit the website or contact the shelter directly if you are interested in celebrating with us through one of our campaigns.