Marley's Mission advocates for child abuse awareness and prevention by collaborating and sharing resources with other non-profit organizations. Through these partnerships, Marley's Mission hopes to create a community dialogue on the many issues that affect children. Our goal is to provide information on early intervention and additional treatment options, as well as encourage legislative changes and developments in public policy.

Advocating for Children: The Issue of Youth Homelessness

According to data compiled in 2012 by the Every Child Matters Educational Fund (www.everychildmatters.org), 16 million children live in poverty in the United States. As of 2012, child poverty rates in the U.S. rose 22.4 percent from 2008. The impact of childhood poverty is great; for example, childhood poverty impedes learning and development, contributes to sustained food insecurity, disrupts family units, limits health care access and contributes to youth homelessness. According to the National Center of Family Homelessness, one out of every 45 children is homeless in the United States. A majority of homeless children are younger than seven years old.

To better understand youth homelessness and its impact on children and families, Marley's Mission is working with the University of Scranton to support the upcoming speaking engagement by authors Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley. Kevin Ryan is the president of Covenant House, which is the largest charity serving homeless, trafficked and runaway youth in the Americas.

Tina Kelley was a staff writer for the New York Times for ten years and shared in a Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Together, Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley wrote the book "Almost Home," which describes the lives of six young people who struggle with issues such as family violence, prostitution, teen parenthood and aging out of foster care without a family.  

The problem of youth homelessness highlights local and national concerns regarding human trafficking, foster care, gender identity, health care, mental health and juvenile justice. During Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley's visit to the University of Scranton on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Byron Center on campus, Marley's Mission and other local non-profit organizations, including United Neighborhood Centers, Boys and Girls Club of NEPA, Children's Advocacy Center, Catholic Social Services and the E.O.T.C. (Education Outside the Classroom), will meet to discuss these issues and their presence in Northeast Pennsylvania. It is the goal of this forum to create an ongoing conversation that will explore practical solutions to these problems and to, in the words of Kevin Ryan, "help young people attain the bright futures they deserve."

Marley's Mission is pleased to announce that during the authors' visit to the University of Scranton, Tina Kelley will visit Marley's Mission in Newton Township to privately speak to a small group of clients who have experienced some of the traumas portrayed in "Almost Home." It is the hope of Marley's Mission that this opportunity will inspire these clients to continue to heal and find hope in their futures.

Marley's Mission sees children between the ages of six and 18 years old. Since opening in July 2010, we have seen more than 250 children from across seven counties: Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Luzerne, Carbon, Bradford, Wayne and Pike. For confidential inquires on our services, contact April Loposky, founder and program director, at 570-937-9399.

If you are interested in being a donor or volunteer, contact Rebecca Haggerty, vice president of the board of directors, at 570-687-0926 or rebecca@marleysmission.com. For general inquiries, call 570-587-HOPE (4673).