Sample Pages of Relief
If your child is placed in a county
youth shelter, it may help or hurt
your family (Page 213)

C H A P T E R 27


If a child runs away from home and is picked up, authorities may decide that conditions in the home are too emotionally charged for the child to be returned to it. Consequently, they may place him or her in the county emergency youth shelter--an ally that may help you or hurt you--for up to thirty days or more.
The nature of this ally varies so much from county to county that there's no way to tell you how to best deal with the one in your county. Some shelters are extremely helpful to families. Others are extremely harmful. Still others are in between those extremes.
Important note: I am only discussing shelters in relation to their role with rebellious teenagers. I am not discussing shelters in their role of sheltering children who have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused or neglected.
You need to do some local research to find out what the emergency youth shelter is like in your county. Checking references is the best way of knowing what on earth you're dealing with. This will be easy to do if you are in a support group for parents of troubled teens because other parents will already know from experience.

What's right with good shelters?

Good shelters reinforce the basic, reasonable rules enforced by most families.

Well-run shelters provide good supervision and require residents to keep their space neat and clean, do their chores, make good grades, and be respectful of house parents. They require them to be decent, legal, cooperative, and productive American citizens. Their privileges are based on their cooperation and performance. These shelters forbid them to smoke cigarettes or pot, do drugs, drink alcohol, be sexually active, use profanity, possess lewd magazines, and so forth.
It is absolutely wonderful when a shelter reinforces the home this way. Teenagers who have trampled on parents' values and walked out on them are faced with the inconvenience of being away from family and friends while having to keep the very same rules. That's very good.
This kind of shelter is a key ally in restoring children to parents with a new resolve to be fair, for a change.


Other topics in this chapter include...

What's right with good shelters?
What can be harmful about shelters?
Investigate your alternatives before the crisis occurs.

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