This past November, a collective of service providers, advocates, community stakeholders, and researchers in the field of youth homelessness met for the bi-annual West Coast Convening in Seattle, Washington.
This dynamic group of professionals from the all along the West Coast first began meeting in 2013 to share research, tools, and best practices related to youth experiencing homelessness. As the eighth meeting of its kind, West Coast Convening VIII gave professionals an opportunity to build upon existing connections as well as to spark new ones.
" One part think tank, one part conference, this gathering of professional peers allows our collective work to be amplified, leveraged, and fine tuned, through the sharing of ideas, priorities, experiences and missteps. "
-R. Pedowitz, Provider at Safe Place For Youth
Co-chaired by Robin Petering and Eric Rice and hosted by YouthCare, The YMCA of Greater Seattle, and Friends of Youth, the Convening provided a space for attendees to provide peer support and to engage in honest dialogue about location-specific issues surrounding youth homelessness.
Over the course of two days, representatives from agencies such as Mockingbird Society, Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership, and National Network for Youth led presentations, workshops, and brainstorming sessions. Additionally, graduate students and early-career social workers were able to attend and lead workshops on scholarships provided by the AASW's Grand Challenge to End Homelessness.
“I found it very interesting to hear what providers have been thinking about and struggling with in the field. I believe the direct connection between life on the ground, in the field and research is the only way to build better policies and structures that will actually serve others.”
- Sara Semborski, Doctoral Sudent, USC Suzanne Dworack-Peck School of Social Work
Presentations included informative sessions on the latest research in youth homelessness, workshops around ethical storytelling, and interactive sessions on being intentional with diversity in organizational settings. A full list of the events that took place can be viewed here.
The Convening concluded with focused conversations on next steps for eradicating youth homelessness, leaving attendees energized and hopeful for the development of solutions to such a complex problem.
“The beauty of the West Coast Convening is that it allows communities up and down the West Coast to learn from each other’s innovative strategies, share best practices, discuss challenges, and brainstorm solutions. This collaboration can bring an end to youth homelessness that much closer.”
-Molly Sullivan, MSW Student, USC Suzanne Dworack-Peck School of Social Work
Visit the West Coast Convening Website to learn more.