Black Hawk County Youth Shelter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Black Hawk County Youth Shelter

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Safe family re-unification and making sure children see beyond the world they live in is the goal of the Black Hawk County Youth Shelter, Amy Jones, Executive Director, said.

The shelter can house up to 15 children and is an emergency shelter for children ages nine to seventeen.

"One of the biggest things I see is kids don't have a vision, and if they don't have a vision to what life can be like outside of the situation they're in, then they're lost but we provide that vision, Jones said.  "We work with UNI to show them what college is like. If they haven't seen it, they don't know it."

The average length of stay is about 22 days right now, but the Jones said she would like to lower that. In the past it had been right around 12 days.

If a child would have to leave their home, the Black Hawk County Youth Shelter staff is there for them.

"My staff provides a safe, nurturing environment for them. I know and I'm confident in the fact that this is a place they'll get what they need and then some," Jones said.

During the summer months, the youth are required to attend school. It's taught by AEA 267. Class is in the morning, but after that, the children get to be a little more active.

"We do different activities. We have a gym, we go off campus, go swimming, bowling, picnic," Jones said.

For 35 years, the shelter was contracted with the Department of Human Services. Now, it's subcontracted with Quakerdale in order to provide some extra services, including a 24 hour crisis line.

Jones said much of the day-to-day operation hasn't changed. What is changing, some of the rooms. A woman is painting the walls in specific themes for the children. She said even though it's a shelter, the goal is to make it feel as much like a "home" as possible.

Hopefully, when the children do leave this home they're more equipped to handle life's challenges.

The shelter takes in approximately 170 children each year.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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