“Speak Up Teens” van to help homeless youth

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)- A ribbon cutting kicked off the mobile project called “Speak Up Teens”. The organization is trying to reach an invisible population. Martha Stone with the Center for Children’s Advocacy said, “one of the goals of the project is to empower the kids to speak up for themselves.

Martha Stone who is the executive director for the Center for Children’s Advocacy said, “This is about the most powerless, vulnerable population that you can imagine, they have no rights, they don’t know what their rights are.” The Speak Up Teens van brings legal services to where homeless kids are and empowers them. Hartford Mayor, Pedro Segarra said, “to have a mobile unit that can bring the services directly to the youth in their communities is a very important thing to our community.”

The new program is the second one of its kind in the nation. Segarra said, “we have a very high number of youth that are living in homelessness. We also have a lot of youth that are having immigration issues, undocumented youth that came here as young children so this provides an opportunity to reach those youngsters and provide alternatives and provide the help that they need.” The program gives homeless kids information about their legal rights.

Attorney, Stacey Violante-Cote said, “they may be moving around and they may have been told they can’t continue to remain in school they were attending because they moved but in fact federal law says if you are moving around then you get to stay in the school you were going to. Our work is to make sure kids know those rights and then advocate for them to be able to stay in their school.” The ‘Speak Up Teens’ van hits the road Thursday in Hartford.

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