SEATTLE — Washington non-profits providing substance abuse & mental health counseling and prevention programs to youth and families.
Organizations across Western Washington are working to give help and hope to young people and provide safe places for at-risk children, teens, and their families. This work is especially urgent because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people from 10 to 24 in the state.
Kent Youth and Family Services (KYFS) serves families in South King County, providing behavioral health support, early learning programs, after-school programs, and homelessness prevention.
"Anyone in South King County qualifies for our services," said Shukri Olow from KYFS. "We serve historically marginalized communities as well as immigrant and refugee populations."
KYFS is located within South King County, near the communities they aim to support.
"The fact that we offer place-based services is critically important," said Olow, "Our families are able to walk down the street and access these services whether it's an early learning program or an after-school program and someone who is able to support them with their need."
"I was one of the young people who was able to access the after-school program. In that space, we had teachers and after-school staff, and mentors who reflected our cultural and racial identities, who supported us, who mentored us, who helped us navigate systems, and had a hungry heart for our stories and journies."
Youth Eastside Services (YES) is located in East King County, offering support for youth and their families right when they need it.
"When people come to us to get help, they want it now," said Patti Skelton McGougan. "We started a program called Open Access, so if someone is in need of help they can come between the hours of 12 and 4, Monday through Thursday and they can walk out with an assessment done and an appointment with a counselor ready to go. We're getting them in fast, and it's really working."
Youth Eastside Services offers a wide range of support including mental health support, substance abuse support, education and prevention services, mentoring and support groups, and integrated health care.
"Wouldn't it be great as a parent if your healthcare for your child was coordinated? So you have your pediatrician talking to their mental health support, coordinating services," Skelton-McGougan said, "Integrating services and providing better health outcomes for our community is what that whole integration is all about."
YES accepts health insurance, but they along with KYFS see patients regardless of their ability to pay.
Olow encourages those who want to help to learn more about the work KYFS and YES does, volunteer and donate.
"I would encourage you all to volunteer, we need people on the ground supporting our children and families," Olow said. "And donate, donate so we can sustain the work we do and make a greater impact in our community."
Skelton McGougan also encourages people to mentor, host fundraisers, and raise awareness.
"There's still that stigma around mental health and substance use that we need to change. We need to make it ok that people seek help and talk about it," McGougan said.
To donate, volunteer, or learn more visit the links below.
- Kent Youth and Family Services: Learn more | Volunteer | Donate
- Youth Eastside Services: Learn more | Volunteer | Donate
JOIN US AT KING 5'S KONNECTED
Kent Youth and Family Services and Youth Eastside Services are part of 2019’s KING 5 Konnected, the party with a purpose. Join us Tue. April 23, 5-9 PM, at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, for eats, entertainment, and inspiration. Tickets on sale now.
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