Every ten seconds, child abuse is reported somewhere in America, and every 26 seconds a child runs away from home.
Thanks to Anchor House, the Trenton-based shelter, runaway and abused children in our area can have hope and a place to call home. Anchor House provides food, emergency housing, clothing, counseling – and hope – to
hundreds of abused, homeless and runaway youths each year.
The non-profit, headquartered on Centre Street, helps children ranging from newborns to teenagers to young adults.
Over its 35-year history, Anchor House has evolved from a single emergency shelter for runaways to an agency with several programs and locations in the greater Trenton area serving children from Mercer County and beyond.
Angel’s Wings serves abused and neglected newborns and young children up to age 12 in a 30-day residential emergency care community. It is the only program of its kind in New Jersey. Up to five children are housed in a home in Mercer County that offers a home-like, loving environment for the children 24 hours, 7 day a week.
Each child receives care, shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, and individual therapy. Referrals for placement come from the state Division of Youth and Family Services.
Angel’s Wings often houses sibling groups, helping keep children in families together. Angel’s Wings accepts children with a broad range of problems, including abuse and neglect, as well as behavioral problems, medical issues, autism, and the need for respite care.
Angel’s Wings Family Support
The Angel’s Wings family support program serves families and children once they leave Angel’s Wings. The goal is to make sure each child is in a stable environment once the child leaves Angel’s Wings.
Prevention is the focus of the program that provides support for the parent, relative, or foster parent the child lives with after leaving Angel’s Wings. Support depends on the needs of each family and includes counseling, parent training, assistance in securing food, clothing, housing, furniture, and employment. Sometimes a foster parent is struggling to pay an electric bill, for example. Angel’s Wings helps them out so a situation does not occur where they lose power and the child is taken away.
Family support staff performs home visits, offers direct support, parenting training, support groups and events, and staff also assist with referrals. The philosophy is to provide families with services to address issues that threaten emotional, physical or psychological instability in the home.
The Anchor House shelter, the cornerstone of the Anchor house program, is a 24-hour safe haven for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth ages 10-17. Runaway and homeless youths have walk-in access to the program 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The shelter’s main purpose is to meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youths and their families, and to reunite them as quickly as possible.
Anchor House works intensively with youths in crisis and their families. Services include crisis intervention, individual and family counseling, temporary shelter, food and clothing, advocacy, outreach, and support groups. The shelter serves more than 150 youth residents at its Centre Street location each year, and helps more than 75 youths on an out-client basis each year. About 65 percent of the youths served successfully return to their families within 30 days. When family reunification isn’t possible, Anchor House works with the youths to find a safe place to live.
School Outreach Program
Anchor House reaches out to the community to help youths and families in crisis. A school outreach counselor works with schools throughout Mercer County to provide crisis intervention services whenever needed, and acts as a liaison to the schools for youth living at the shelter.
The school outreach program seeks to reach at-risk youths in an effort to prevent runaway behavior and youths dropping out of school. Last year the program served more than 400 students and families, with more than 99 percent of the students staying in school and more than 98 percent of the students not running away from home.
The Anchorage transitional living program provides residential services to homeless youth ages 18-21 to help them successfully become independent adults. The program’s goal is to help youths develop the skills they need to be employed, to encourage them enroll in continuing education, and to obtain community resources like medical care, financial assistance, and behavioral health services. The Anchorage also provides services to youths on an out-client basis.
All youths served by the program can participate in educational activities, counseling, and job assistance. The Anchorage also works with youths to make sure they are taught skills like creating a budget, applying for a job, and opening a bank account.
The transitional living program includes a group home and an apartment program called Anchor Line. Last year The Anchorage provided long-term residential services to 26 youths. All of them attended educational programs, with 10 attending college. The rate of Anchorage residents completing college keeps rising.
Anchor Line Apartment Program
The Anchor Line apartment program is for homeless young adults ages 18- 21. The program provides subsidized housing, food, case management, and life skills education so the young adults can learn to successfully live on their own. Youths who live in the apartment program are required to find jobs to support themselves, and are encouraged to enroll in school, participate in counseling, and learn life skills that will help them be independent. Anchor Line serves four youths at a time and the program is often full.
Anchor Link Street Outreach
Anchor Link is the agency’s street outreach program. The Anchor Link provides crisis intervention, counseling, assistance with job searches, assistance locating safe living arrangements, referrals to community programs, and transportation to at-risk teens.
The common denominator of all the programs is providing a safe place where kids can feel nurtured and cared for, and feel a sense of hope.
“We want our kids to see that there is an opportunity for things to get better for them,” Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear said. “We show them they have a future.”
Reporter Krystal Knapp is a cyclist participating in the ride July 14-20. For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation to the ride, visit www.anchorhouseride.org, where you can also make online donations in a cyclist’s name. Donations can also be sent to the Anchor House Foundation, P.O. Box 2357, Trenton, NJ 08607-2357.