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  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Crib youth shelter to suspend overnight services
by Matt Simonette
2017-06-03

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The Crib, the emergency youth shelter operated in Lake View by The Night Ministry, announced June 3 that it would be temporarily suspending its overnight services as of June 7.

The facility, which attracts many LGBTQ youth, will remain open and provide services such as daily meals, case management and street outreach, said Erin Ryan, senior vice-president for The Night Ministry, who added that "a constellation of factors" precipitated the temporary change.

No date has been set for when the Crib's 21 beds would reopen, but Ryan said, "We will absolutely make this as short a time as possible."

Chief among those factors was a need for staff retraining and addressing some staff turnover, she added. Officials want to study procedures and demographic data they've collected about their client population as well. Three staff members operate the facility in the evening and morning, while two remain there overnight.

"We've been operating the The Crib for five years," she said. "It first began as a pilot program, a seasonal program only in the winter months. Since it's become a year-long program, we've been talking about the best way to keep staff trained and informed on best practices—that's difficult to do when your program is only open at night, year-round. …The staff has been talking about the best way to regroup and retrain [at a time] when we are all together."

She added, "The Crib, as a program now, is very different than The Crib, as a program, was five years ago. … We've added HIV/STI testing, nursing services, [and] a variety of groups and activities."

Ryan said that The Crib has had no recent complaints or issues from neighborhood residents, but noted that making effective use of The Crib's space, which is about 600 square feet, remains a challenge.

"We have had a couple incidents in the space—it's a small space and tensions were high," she said. "It's a fast-moving program, with different participants every night, so the population changes every night. We had a couple incidents that made us concerned for the safety of the residents. We want to make sure the space is safe and that we review our policies and the way that we use it."

Ryan emphasized that only the overnight services were affected by the change.

"There are many other services that will remain open," she said. "There's still a nightly meal. We'll still have staff in the space every night who will able to assist with case management and referrals, and our relationship with the Broadway Youth Center will remain. … We're really committed to maintaining contact with the young people."

The Crib will also remain an "Access Point," where clients can connect with city programs that might enable them to obtain housing, and a van from Catholic Charities will transport clients to other shelters.

"The Night Ministry has other beds available in our own system for young people, in our two interim housing facilities as well as our transitional living facility," Ryan noted. "We have a fifth facility opening in a month or so with eight additional beds."

She emphasized that Night Ministry officials have a "robust and structured plan for using the time" that the overnight services are suspended. "We're working with the city on a timeline for how long that will be, and we'll reopen just as soon as we're able to."


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