Forty years ago a needs assessment, done by the Greenwich United Way, uncovered the need for a local solution to address the increasing numbers of runaway and homeless adolescents. As a result, the Junior League of Greenwich, and Hotline, a Greenwich telephone counseling agency, joined forces to create an emergency shelter pilot program known as Kids In Crisis.
In 1981, the 24-Hour Crisis Helpline was initiated to assist children and families avert escalating crises by providing free, 24-hour telephone and face-to-face intervention, counseling and referrals.
Services were expanded in 1993 to include the Crisis Nursery, providing emergency shelter for younger children, newborn to 12. In 1997, Kids In Crisis was licensed for its on-site TLC Health Center.
Today, Kids In Crisis provides temporary housing and comprehensive medical, educational and therapeutic support services for children of all ages in Fairfield County. It is the only Connecticut agency that can house children from newborn to age 18, of any gender,including a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ adolescents.
In addition to providing an emergency shelter program, Kids In Crisis provides crisis counseling and community education programs for children and families dealing with a wide range of issues.
Working with community partners, TeenTalk and SafeTalk began in 1999, to provide education and prevention programming. Today, these programs are integrated into 29 elementary, middle and high schools in southwest Connecticut, providing school-based counseling, prevention and educational programs to help protect children from harm and preserve and strengthen families.
In 2018 Kids In Crisis welcomed Lighthouse, formerly Stamford Lighthouse, which provides a welcoming, inclusive and safe space where lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies meet once a month. Currently, gatherings take place in Stamford with the hope of expanding to Greenwich and beyond.
Since its founding, Kids In Crisis has provided critical social services to more than 148,000 babies, children, teens and their families. Kids In Crisis staff serve on more than 20 children’s advocacy working groups at the national, regional, state and local levels. Kids In Crisis has received local and national recognition for its work, and serves as a model for other organizations throughout the world.
“It all starts with a phone call,” says Shari Shapiro, Kids In Crisis’ Executive Director. “The Kids In Crisis Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day and provides free phone and face-to-face intervention, counseling and referrals. The agency works with families who are facing domestic violence, mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, economic difficulties and more.”
With the agency’s state funding eliminated in 2015, fundraising efforts are now more important than ever.