Creating a plan to keep a youth safe

Last night was an exceptionally hectic. One youth had returned to the shelter intoxicated and emotionally distraught.  As per our policy and in order to maintain sanctuary for the other youth in house, she could not stay the night in the shelter.   She received an overnight suspension, but was able to return this morning to maintain her stay-which she has.  This particular youth admits her ongoing struggle with alcohol.  She recently lost her nephew to a terminal illness and has been devastated by his passing.  She disclosed to staff that her recent alcohol use had been triggered by passing a store window with toys that she thought her late nephew would have loved. 

Her previous stays in the shelter documented numerous incidences of alcohol use.  Staff were concerned that previous supports put in place were not effective and had arranged a meeting for tomorrow to discuss treatment options but were worried her alcohol use may lead to her being discharged before the meeting could happen. 

One of the youth workers spoke to the youth at length to develop a safety plan for this evening so she would still be here for tomorrow’s meeting.  The youth worker (who had only met this youth the day before and had virtually no relationship built with the youth) used sincerity and empathy to communicate concern for the youth’s well being and succeeded in getting her to commit to abstaining from any alcohol or substance use for the night.  Additionally, the youth worker was able to check in with the youth frequently throughout the evening to gauge her feelings of safety and security and process any emotional distress she was experiencing. 

Last night was an exceptionally hectic. One youth had returned to the shelter intoxicated and emotionally distraught.  As per our policy and in order to maintain sanctuary for the other youth in house, she could not stay the night in the shelter.   She received an overnight suspension, but was able to return this morning to maintain her stay-which she has.  This particular youth admits her ongoing struggle with alcohol.  She recently lost her nephew to a terminal illness and has been devastated by his passing.  She disclosed to staff that her recent alcohol use had been triggered by passing a store window with toys that she thought her late nephew would have loved. 

Her previous stays in the shelter documented numerous incidences of alcohol use.  Staff were concerned that previous supports put in place were not effective and had arranged a meeting for tomorrow to discuss treatment options but were worried her alcohol use may lead to her being discharged before the meeting could happen. 

One of the youth workers spoke to the youth at length to develop a safety plan for this evening so she would still be here for tomorrow’s meeting.  The youth worker (who had only met this youth the day before and had virtually no relationship built with the youth) used sincerity and empathy to communicate concern for the youth’s well being and succeeded in getting her to commit to abstaining from any alcohol or substance use for the night.  Additionally, the youth worker was able to check in with the youth frequently throughout the evening to gauge her feelings of safety and security and process any emotional distress she was experiencing. 

It’s worth noting this youth worker was able to do all of this while simultaneously maintaining a connection with the remainder of the shelter youth on her list.  I’m happy to say the safety plan that was devised between the youth worker and youth was very successful.  This plan will result in the youth keeping her bed for another night and we will be able to meet tomorrow morning to discuss potential treatment.