3 Warren Street
Ellenville, NY 12428
Staff: 5 full-time / 1 part-time
One full-time staff member who works in both houses
Program Director: Jen Pineda
Assistant Program Director: Jessica Ropke
Program Hours: Each site is staffed 24 hours a day
PRIMARY FUNCTION: A supervised transitional living program for up to 18 months for adolescents 16-21 who are homeless and not yet prepared to function independently, and, as necessary, their infants. Youth who enter the program at age 16 can stay up to 24 months in order to complete their high school education.
ANCILLARY SERVICES: Crisis intervention; individual and family counseling; educational support; life skills training; job preparedness instruction; vocational and employment assistance; parenting instruction; assistance with locating permanent housing; as well as after care.
In 2017, all staff remained in their MidWay positions, which provided stability and predictability in the therapeutic relationships with the residents. As the staff grow in their trauma-informed practices, the stability in the staffing pattern allows for an emotionally safer environment. Trauma-informed care techniques, mindfulness practices, and on-going reflections by staff are now a regular part of the bi-monthly case conferences in each household, which provides for the emotional support of the staff, as well. Stable, trained, and invested staff allow for the program to serve youth who have higher mental health needs in a safe way, so the stability and competency of the staff are a huge factor in the successes of the program.
This year, the program saw two infants born while their mothers lived at MidWay, which always creates new dynamics for the households. Pregnant youth were provided with support in nutrition, self-care, baby necessities, and parenting education as they worked to have a healthy pregnancy during this time of high stress and demands. Since each MidWay site is structured to run as a household, all staff and residents were a part of the planning that goes along with welcoming a new baby into the home. Baby showers were provided through the generosity of donors and the love from the staff and residents. Since a goal of the program is to increase permanent connections for the residents, baby showers also offer an excellent opportunity to welcome extended family members into the household as a means of strengthening family relationships. Both infants are currently healthy and thriving, with all needs being met by their strong communities of support.
Additionally, MidWay leadership are in the process of updating the program contract to create a structure that aligns with the new Runaway and Homeless Youth laws that support youth in longer stays, if needed. Most of the youth who enter MidWay have a history of frequent moving around from caregiver to caregiver throughout their childhoods. Most of the youth come to the program with significant trauma histories, which can affect developmental skills, attachments, emotional regulation capabilities, and their ability to trust others. These experiences can often lead to behaviors that are based on emotional and physical survival, and it can be very difficult to navigate a program that attempts to provide stability and care. For youth who have been hurt by the people who were supposed to protect them, it can often take quite some time to begin to feel worthy of love and motivated to work on goals. This is especially true when many of the goals have felt so unattainable at previous times throughout their lives. The program has found that longer stays have significantly increased the overall outcomes achieved by the program’s youth, and New York State’s recognition of this was validating and helpful.