HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Over 50 schools working on building teen resource centers

Dec 8, 2023, 4:00 PM

a lounge in a support center shown, this is an elementary resource center built similarly to teen r...

The Family Support Center at Odyssey Elementary School lounge. (Ogden School District)

(Ogden School District)

SALT LAKE CITY — A non-profit that’s pushed for creating teen resource centers across the state said 53 schools are working on building more. The Policy Project said providing resources for teens experiencing poverty and homelessness is critical.

President and Founder of the Policy Project Emily McCormick told Inside Sources that the effort to build teen resource centers was a response to the high number of teens in need in Utah.

McCormick said one in 50 teens in Utah are classified as homeless.

“That number was just high enough where we really needed to do something about it,” she said.

McCormick said the nonprofit wanted to provide a central place with all kinds of resources.

“The idea is that every high school, ideally, in the state of Utah would have a place where kids can come in, they can take a shower in private, they can do their laundry … Also, get food that they can grab and go and have access to a trusted adult.”

In March, the state Legislature approved $15 million in funding to go toward creating teen centers in Utah.

The Policy Project independently raised an additional $3 million to support the efforts.

Several teen resource centers opened in 2023, including ones in Herriman and Layton.

Now, McCormick said 53 schools are in the process of creating teen centers for their communities.

A step further

On Thursday, the Family Support Center opened at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden. This marks Utah’s first elementary support center,

In a press release, the Ogden School District said while working on creating teen resource centers, it saw another need. The district said it was apparent that younger students and their families were in need too.

“They have a homeless population of about 50 students, which ends up being a pretty big part of their student body,” McCormick said.

“It will provide a safe, calm place for unhoused families to cook a meal together, complete homework and do laundry,” said Odyssey Elementary School Principal Sonja Davidson in the release.

Helping your local teen resource center

“Right now the best thing you can do is check with your local high school because they need all kinds of resources,” McCormick said.

She said centers always need basics like food and blankets.

McCormick said anything you can remember needing as a teenager needs to be at these centers.

She also encouraged Utahns to involve themselves with policy initiatives and volunteer.

We want to hear from you.

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Over 50 schools working on building teen resource centers