Federal grant to help homeless teens

A Bridgeport center that provides shelter and homelessness prevention and intervention services to 1,200 male, female and transgender runaway, homeless and street youths will receive more than $500,000 from the federal government over the next three years.

Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) on Wednesday announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a three-year, $179,776 per year federal grant to the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Inc., to support the Janus Center for Youth in Crisis, which works with those under the age of 18 from Bridgeport, Stratford, Fairfield, Trumbull, Monroe and Easton.

The Janus Center runs a 24-hour crisis hotline; provides youth and family counseling; conducts mental health, substance abuse, and trafficking assessments; provides up to three weeks of supportive shelter; and directly serves eight public middle and high schools to facilitate early behavioral and mental health interventions.

“With the award of funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Janus Center will be able to increase the safety of marginalized and at-risk young people under 18 by providing safe shelter and gateway services in time of crisis; building and rebuilding fractured relationships with families, caring adults, schools and communities; stabilizing young people and promoting their ability to advocate effectively for themselves; and providing an alternative to entry into state child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems,” said the Rev. Cass Shaw, president and CEO of The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport.

Since 1975, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport has operated a shelter and robust services program for over 12,000 young people in crisis. After referral to the center, over 95% of young people successfully returned home. The Janus Center is the only provider of shelter beds for youth in Greater Bridgeport.