More young parents are seeking shelter services says SHELTER, Inc., the organization that runs the Mountain View family homeless shelter in Martinez.

During the last six months, 41% of the parents served (7 out of 17 households) were younger than 22 years old. Many of these parents spent their youth in foster care or group homes and have limited family support, if any.

According to the Contra Costa Crisis Center, the top request from families with young children calling 211 last year was for housing and homeless services.  They recorded over 2,800 calls from Contra Costa families with children under age 5 experiencing housing issues.

One reason for the increase, according to staff at the shelter, is the lack of entry-level jobs available. These jobs typically were held by younger people with limited work experience, but because of the recession, the young parents are competing with people who have more work experience and better job skills.

To help increase the parents’ self-sufficiency, SHELTER, Inc. provides them with educational support to complete high school as well as comprehensive employment services. They also receive parenting classes.

One program that has been very well received by the parents is Triple P, a widely used parent education program that has been shown to reduce child abuse. Several of the parents who have participated in other parent education programs say that Triple P is by far the most effective one they’ve tried.

“Many of the young parents we serve were raised in foster care or less than stable environments. And because of their housing situation and inability to provide for their children, many feel like failures when it comes to parenting,” said Sharon Bernhus, SHELTER, Inc.’s Program Director. “But Triple P is increasing their confidence as parents and that helps to increase their confidence in all aspects of their life.”

Watch a short video clip about how Triple P has helped reduce stress for one young mother.

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