The executive director of the state’s largest shelter for runaways says the tough economy is leading to more kids seeking services. Stephen Quirk runs the Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS) in Des Moines. Quirk says they have noticed with the difficult economy and other challenges that they have seen an increase in kids. Quirk says one recent weekend they saw 28 kids at the facility when that’s normally in the low 20’s.
Quirk says all the issues build up and families seek help. “A lot of families that are having some troubles with their kids would look to find a different place for their kids to be,” Quirk says, “and certainly we discourage that. But if this is a better place and a safe place as opposed to some conflicts and some problems around the holiday table, I think it’s best that these kids be here.” Quirk says they try to deal with the problem before the kids come to the shelter.
He says if they call in they try to work with the kids over the phone. Quirk says the kids will show up at the shelter on their own and when they show up he says they “try to figure out what the real issues are.” He says they notify the police and parents and then typically move to some counseling to help get at the root issue of the problem. Quirk says there are 22 emergency shelters across the state and they face similar problems. You can learn more about YESS at yessIowa.org.