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Hutton House: Providing a safe haven for runaway teens

POSTED February 25, 2011 7:27 p.m.

Hutton House has been a safe haven for runaway and homeless teens in Stanislaus County since 1976. Youth ages 13 to 17 who need a temporary place to stay during a crisis situation can live at the Modesto shelter for up to two weeks. Hutton House also offers day and drop-in services, and between the residential and non-residential programs they serve around 800 clients per year.

“Any time the family is in crisis and the teen needs a safe place to stay, that’s really what we’re here for,” said Tracy Maldonado, program coordinator at Hutton House.

Hutton House can house up to eight teens at any one time. Clients have a safe place to stay, meals, counseling services, and other support programs available to them. The ultimate goal of Hutton House is to reunite teens with their families. 

“We offer short term crisis intervention, and we work with clients and their parents to make plans and set goals,” Maldonado said.

Parents have to give permission for their teens to stay at Hutton House, but the program is voluntary for youth clients. Maldonado said that runaway teens usually come to Hutton House voluntarily to stay, or they drop by during the day for services.

“We tell parents they are safe and they have a place to stay, but if the client doesn’t want to participate we won’t stop them from walking out the door. We will call and report them as a runaway if they leave, but we won’t lay hands on them to stop them,” Maldonado said.

Drop in services are available for teens and former clients who need a shower and a change of clothes, a snack, or drop-in counseling. The shelter now participates in differential response, where they make home visits to families who have a pattern of CPS calls that don’t qualify for social worker services.

The shelter, in partnership with the Center for Human Services, relies on its volunteers for day to day operations. Staff and volunteers run a 24-hour teen crisis hotline. Volunteers also handle client intake, coordinate youth activities, run group sessions, and help with every aspect of running the shelter. Hutton House interviewed its newest group of volunteers on Thursday.

“Volunteers initially have to do 18 hours of training. We found that it’s best to have them complete training before they start as volunteers. It helps them decide if this is really where they want to spend their volunteer hours,” Maldonado said.

Anyone interested in volunteering at Hutton House can call 526-1623. Volunteers must make a one-year commitment, attend monthly volunteer meetings and trainings, pass a physical clearance, TB test and child abuse index clearance.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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