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Youth Crisis Center hosting job fair, creating jobs in mental health as need grows

The center claims to be Florida's first runaway program, helping children exposed to trauma like homelessness.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Jacksonville nonprofit is looking for more people to help local youth at possibly the most distressing time in their lives.

The Youth Crisis Center (YCC) is working to create more jobs in the mental health industry in Northeast Florida and is hosting a job fair next week. It will be August 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside it's location at 3015 Parental Home Road in Jacksonville.

The YCC didn't lose workers; they're creating more positions because the need for them is so great, and they only expect it to get greater as the pandemic continues.

The center claims to be Florida's first runaway program, helping children exposed to trauma like homelessness. The threat of homelessness due to the pandemic is just one problem leaders at the center say is growing.

"It's just an all around, you look at it from every angle, and it doesn't matter which way you look at it," said Human Resources Director Vel McKen. "The youth, they're being impacted."

When lockdowns started last year, there was more domestic violence. There were more than 1300 domestic violence calls for service per day across the country, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

The need for mental health services has grown. Five hundred more youth and families are being helped this year at the YCC compared to last year, and they've seen a 20 percent increase every year.

"All of the kids that come here for those services, whether they're runaway, ungovernable, truant, or homeless youth, are getting on-site schooling while they're here," said Logan Farrelly, clinical director of child in need of services and family in need of services (CINS FINS). "We have three Duval County school teachers on site here so every day the kids are going to school."

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene says over the summer the district recovered almost 1200 students who fit their definition of homeless. She says the biggest challenge will be keeping them enrolled in school.

The YCC crisis hotline is 904-725-6662. See the positions YCC is hiring for here.

Last year, the YCC opened a new program to help LGBTQ+ youth with emergency shelter, life skills, and mental health counseling. 

They also opened a new location in St. Augustine last year

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