Partner Spotlight: WAYPOINT & THE ROCHESTER Police Department
Collaborating to Prevent Youth Homelessness
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted critical services that youth across America depend upon daily – and the impact continues to be felt today. To meet these growing needs of youth in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region, organizations like Waypoint and the Rochester Police Department are strengthening their collaborative efforts.
As a New Hampshire-based nonprofit, Waypoint’s mission is to empower people of all ages through an array of human services and advocacy. In addition to serving youth experiencing homelessness, they offer programs for seniors and adults with disabilities, children with developmental or chronic health conditions, families affected by incarceration, and others throughout the state.
On any given day, Waypoint staff within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program work with as many as 80 high-risk youth in Rochester, alone. They provide a range of services and programs, such as a drop-in center, transitional living program, street outreach, and more.
“We find collaborating with other social service organizations as well as police departments is an effective way to engage and educate community members and deliver services directly to youth in need,” said Amy Malone, Waypoint’s Youth Resource Center Site Supervisor.
The Rochester NH Police Department’s Juvenile Services Division is one of the oldest and completely independently funded programs in the state and has been serving Rochester youth since 1980. They have been acknowledged for building one of the most successful collaborations in the state, the Rochester Teen Night, which reaches more than 330 youth with prevention and intervention messages and tools. Their work integrates restorative justice practices, promotes positive youth development, and reduces juvenile crime and recidivism.
Waypoint and the Rochester Police Department partner in numerous ways. For example, together they conduct school outreach, host events, make referrals, and connect with people living in homeless encampments. Additionally, the police (as well as the Mayor of Rochester, school principals, students, and others) participate in Waypoint’s annual SleepOut to raise community consciousness and funds to support services that help young people experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire.
“It’s important that organizations like Waypoint help educate youth about the role police play in their safety and also position us as a trusted resource,” said Nicole Rodler, Rochester Police Department’s Juvenile Division Coordinator. “Often when we connect with young people in partnership with Waypoint, we’re able to build trust and help before a crisis develops.”
In 2019, Waypoint and the Rochester Police Department executed several activities in support of National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). They plan to make NRPM 2022 bigger than ever by lighting the city green, organizing a block party with the Mayor and school leaders, posting on social media, and engaging the local Youth Action Board – Youth Success Project.
We look forward to following their achievements in November and in the future. You can find more information at: https://www.rochesterpd.org/juvenile-services.html and https://waypointnh.org/programs/homelessness-youth-services.
Rochester Police Officers at Waypoint’s SleepOut