An Act for Homeless and Runaway Youth 

Over the years, the Statewide Homeless Council has looked at a plan to end homelessness in Maine.It became clear that one population didn’t fit easily into their plans – homeless and runaway youth.The ceremonial signing of a bill in Augusta Wednesday marks the state’s commitment to ensure services for that group.”It’s to make sure this population, who are a very special, distinct, population are served, and it’s based on the national model,” says Sally Tardiff, of the Shaw House in Bangor.The national model is a three-tiered program providing shelter, outreach and transitional services.Or as Tardiff says, taking at-risk kids from emergency, to stability. And saving the state money in the long run.”Because the community won’t have to pay the higher cost in the long term of kids who are not self-sufficient, who may become incarcerated,” Tardiff says.That’s where 17-year-old Matthew Anderson says he’d be, without the services at the Shaw House.”Probably in jail,” Anderson says. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten off probation, I got my GED, I got my permit and I enrolled in college. I start at NESCOM in September.” 19-year-old Eric Moore says within a month of coming to the Shaw House, he’s living on his own and getting ready for UCB.”I started getting my life back on track from getting out of the juvenile system,” Moore says.While Tardiff says today is a happy day, it only marks the beginning of more hard work to come.”At this point in time, there’s no funding attached to the bill,” Tardiff says. “I guess what I’d say is it’s a good first step. There obviously has to be dollars to actually provide the services the bill recommends.””Now that I see what these organizations actually do for teenagers,” says Anderson, “I think it’s something that should be funded.”