Founded in June, 1985 by a group of concerned citizens and community leaders, Harbor House was created to address the needs of an emerging population, homeless youth. On August 8, 1988, the agency opened its doors to provide a safe haven for five youth to help get them off the streets and out of abusive and dangerous homes. Through planned strategic activities, the agency has witnessed significant growth throughout its many years of operation to address the evolving needs of children and youth.
Harbor House currently offers comprehensive services through its continuum of care that contacts over 4,500 children, youth and families annually, from promoting youth development to aiding those who are in crisis.
To ensure the effective and efficient delivery of services, the agency created three distance programs, each with its own directors. Weekly staff meetings provide venues to share information.
The Core Components of Harbor House:
- Emergency Youth Shelter
- Outreach Programs and
- Supervised Transitional Living Program (STLP).
The agency’s continuum of care was borne out of the emergency shelter, Harbor House. At its inception the emergency youth shelter served five homeless, runaway and abused boys and girls, ages 10 through 19. Due to high demand, the shelter later expanded to ten (10) beds and then to twelve (12) beds in 2002. Nearly 27 years later, over 4,000 youth have received emergency housing from our shelter.
In addition to providing emergency shelter placement, Harbor House provides food through home-cooked meals, clothing, counseling, case management and referrals to medical services. Primary residential counselors assume proactive roles in stabilizing the children upon admission. In addition, the shelter provides 24-hour hotline services and drop-in services to the community for any child in crisis.
Harbor House’s Outreach program has been in operation since 1996. Outreach services include weekly groups held at the Outreach Center, as well as individual and family counseling services.
Outreach Groups Provided Include:
- a Young Women’s Issues Group,
- a Young Men’s Group,
- a Teen Rap Group,
- a Parent Support Group,
- Anger Management Groups,
- Life Skills/Self-Help Group
- Teens Living Clean Meetings (an aftercare recovery group).
Over 4,500 Contacts to Youth Made
In 2014, the Street Works project made over 4,500 contacts to youth throughout Ocean County municipalities. Currently, this service operates three days per week, generally from 2:00 to 10:00 pm with some seasonal and community adjustments. This unique service continues to adapt and expand to community needs. In addition, the program provides extensive community education and awareness throughout the year at local events, civic groups, and Ocean County schools were they assist thousands of additional youth and families each year.
SUPERVISED TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAM (STLP)
In 2001, Harbor House recognized the special needs of older youth (ages 16-21) who lack the skills and confidence to successfully achieve adulthood. The Supervised Transitional Living Program (STLP) was created because frequently these young adults have nowhere else to turn. This population is often neglected from systems who serve children and those that assist adults.
In 2003, Harbor House embarked upon a $1.5 million capital development campaign to build a transitional housing facility for the TLP population, SHORE (Supportive Housing Opportunities through Rehabilitation and Encouragement) House. The 12-bed, fully supervised site in Toms River opened its doors in November of 2004. Youth can remain in the program for up to 18 months. Supportive services, case management, counseling, employment and vocational services are provided at the TLP Educational Center, which was also built on site at 808 Conifer Street as a separate facility open to residential and non-residential clients.
THE FAMILY CRISIS INTERVENTION UNIT (FCIU)
The Family Crisis Intervention Unit (FCIU) program was awarded to Harbor House by Ocean County’s Youth Services Commission on January 1, 2006. The FCIU is 24-hour court diversion program whose goal is to attend to and stabilize juvenile family crisis. The services provide family, individual and sibling counseling to youth at risk.