The journey to the streets for Unaccompanied Youth (UY) and street-involved youth begins in their homes and then transitions to homelessness and street culture. This journey leaves the youth skeptical of authority figures and trapped in a cycle of unhealthy and broken relationships. In order to break this sequence of unhealthy relationships the youth are met in their environment and surrounded by a community of care.
The dissertation titled ‘Learning to be Neighbors: Walking alongside Unaccompanied Youth on Our Way to Community’ assumes that the major barricade preventing UY from exiting street life is a series of harmful associations that have been established in the youth’s lives from their early childhood and continues while they live on the streets. The staff at Cup of Cool Water has learned how complex unaccompanied youth’s lives are and how difficult it is to exit a life on the streets. An examination of UY lives will be discussed as well as the journey of Cup of Cool Waters transformation from an organization that provides services for the UY to an organization that is with or walks alongside UY and street involved youth.
As Cup of Cool Water has worked with UY, the organization has begun the voyage of moving from an organization that followed the Traditional Model of providing social services to an Innovative Approach of providing social services. CCW is transitioning from a model that looks at the deficits of UY to a model that sees and builds on the capacities of the UY.