Savannah emergency shelter keeping eye on at-risk youth during virtual learning amid pandemic

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – At-risk youth that comes from troubling homes may not get the attention they need this year due to COVID-19. Counselors and social workers are seeing a decrease in the number of families they’re serving since the pandemic started.

On a rainy day or on any other day that may seem harder than the rest Park Place Outreach’s doors are always open.

“We provide residential services, prevention services, and family preservation services to runaway homeless and at-risk youth,” Executive Director, Julie Wade said.

They’re children that come from unstable housing or family situations. Executive Director Julie Wade, also a Savannah-Chatham County school board member said she’s seen a decrease in the amount of children they’re serving.

“So we thought with COVID our numbers would increase because people were losing their jobs and housing was becoming more difficult and in fact, we’ve seen our numbers decrease and so have our partners,” Wade said.

The thought behind it is because at-risk youth going through troubling times haven’t been in school the past few months and this is leaving teachers and counselors unaware of what’s happening at home. Due to virtual learning, it’ll stay this way until the pandemic calms down.

“Sometimes teachers know these kids better than almost anyone does, and I think teachers are really able to identify when kids are struggling. Maybe a kid who’s really engaged and vibrant is now napping or there’s a big change in behavior and that’s when you get counselors and social workers involved to say hey what’s going on with Johnny,” Wade said.

Wade said the school district is very aware of situations that happen at home and they’re working to stay in contact with the children who need the attention the most.

“I’ve said many times to get through this COVID crisis and the education challenges we face and the virtual learning and the financial challenges families are having it really takes all of us,” Wade said.

The shelter usually holds 12 children but now that number is down to six due to the health crisis.

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