Caring for Runaway, Street, Homeless and At-Risk-Youth

Anchor House Inc.’s mission is to work with homeless, runaway and abused children and youth, from birth to 21 years of age, to enable them to utilize their strengths and the support of their families and communities to help ensure a stable and successful home.

Located in Trenton, NJ, Anchor House programs include respite care for infants and children, family sup­port, shelter for teenagers, school outreach, transitional housing, permanent housing and street out­reach. Services are available to children, youth, and their families; not only when the children are in residence, but continue after they leave our facilities. We also offer services to those in need in the com­munity. For instance, you do not need a referral to call or come to the Family Support Program if you are a family in Mercer County struggling with behavior issues of a child and want to attend parenting workshops or schedule individual or family counseling sessions if you have a teenager threatening to run away due to school issues, family conflicts or behavioral problems. We are there to help.

Throughout its 34 year history, Anchor House has strived to meet the needs for run­away, street, homeless, and at risk youth. Anchor House’s interventions are viewed from a positive youth development perspective and all programming is planned within this model. A positive youth development approach is asset-based rather than problem-focused. It is predicated on the understanding that all young people need support, guidance, and opportunities during adolescence and early young adulthood. Anchor House Shelter was opened in 1978 to move homeless and runaway youth ages 10-17 off the streets and reunite them with their families. In 1984, the organization added school outreach programming to prevent youth from running away by intervening early in their crises. In 1992, the agency started a transitional living program, the Anchorage, for homeless youth ages 16 through 21 in need of assistance transitioning into adulthood. In 1998, Anchor House further expanded its services to include a street outreach program, Anchor Link, designed to get youth off the streets and prevent their exploitation. In 2004, Anchor House added Angel’s Wings Emergency Respite Program to its continuum of services. Angel’s Wings was founded in 1999 as a separate non profit organization to provide emergency respite services to children ages birth through 12 years and to “foster” families by providing training and volunteer opportunities for volunteers who may then become certified foster parents. In July 2004, Angel’s Wings was merged under the Anchor House corporate umbrella. All residential care is DYFS referred but the Family Support Program which began in 2009, is open to all Mercer County residents. A supportive housing apartment program, Anchor Line was added in 2007 to support homeless youth 18 through 21 years of age in need of safe, subsidized housing while they gain the skills and abilities necessary to successfully lead productive lives. The program operates shared apartments and provides comprehensive services to help youth learn to live independently.

Anchor House programs provide a myriad of services to meet the needs of our youth. These services include not only emergency shelter or residential services providing food, clothing and a safe environment, but also much needed crisis intervention individual, family and group counseling, as well as medical, dental and mental health care. All youth receive life skills education, educational preparation and counseling, and youth age 14 and older also learn job preparation skills. Substance abuse prevention, counseling and referrals are available, as are aftercare and support groups for youth and their parents. The programs work together to provide continual, comprehensive services to youth.

Anchor House’s signature charity event is the “The Ride” for Runaways, an annual, 7 days, 500-mile charity bicycle ride to raise funds for the agency. As the dedicated riders say, “It’s for the kids.” Just who are these kids? It is the not only the teenage runaway who ran from an abusive father, or the mother struggling with drug addiction. It is the child next door, whose mother lost her job and cycled into depression. It is the baby born to parents too overwhelmed to find proper daycare, or the grandparents who desperately are trying to raise their grandchildren but are in need of assistance in finding the right resources. It is the wonderful foster parents who need help addressing the behavioral issues of a troubled tween. It is the eighteen year old, aging out of the child welfare system, unprepared to live independently, and without a family to teach them basic life skills like cooking and laundry, or the more complicated skills of budgeting, filling out job or college applications. It is the family struggling to stay together despite unemployment, mental health issues or illness. These are the faces that reach out to us in need.

For more information on Anchor House Inc. services and programs, please visit anchorhousenj.org or call us at 609-396-8329.