Imagine that you’re in high school again. You arrive home, triumphant after a successful basketball game, only to discover that all your clothes and personal items have been put into two trash bags and set out for you. It’s time for you to leave. Where do you go? Who do you turn to? How do you start a life when you’ve essentially been thrown out onto the street with no resources whatsoever?
That was a question Kenneth Cook found himself facing years ago, when he aged out of the foster-care system. He had nowhere to go – and so, like 50 percent of youth who age out of the foster-care system, he found himself homeless.
Cook has come a long way since that day. Now, as senior director of Youth Development for the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN), his job is to help out other young people who have found themselves in similar circumstances to those he faced.
The number is a lot higher than you might guess. According to Covenant House, there are 2 million homeless youth in America – and 6,000-10,000 of those kids live in Los Angeles alone. “They may not be as visible, but the numbers are big, and they’re still there,” LAYN president and CEO Mark Supper told Uproxx Reports.
Founded in 1985 as a pilot program of the High Risk Youth Project at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, LAYN’s mission is to empower homeless, neglected, and abused adolescents, helping them become self-sufficient.