Haven Respite Center Jersey City

Group Also Set to Open Two “Drop-in” Centers in City’s Public Schools

Haven Adolescent Community Respite Center, which offers individual and family counseling and other services for teens in conflict with their parents, just received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund overnight stays at its three-bedroom home on Roosevelt Avenue. The group also hopes to open two drop-in centers in Jersey City public schools on a pilot basis beginning January.

“These developments represent major milestones for us, and we could not be more thrilled,” said Amy Albert, founder and chair of Haven. We are so grateful to Hudson County for helping fund the purchase of our house to begin with. Without that early support, this new HHS award would not have been possible. Now, we can open the residential portion of the house and provide up to four young people at a time with respite for 21 days … the drop-in centers, which will offer counseling and case management around homelessness and other issues, will let us reach dozens more kids in the city than we otherwise would be able to do.”

Haven, which Albert founded in 2016 with the dream of offering overnight shelter for at-risk kids, has provided counseling and meals to roughly 450 kids and their families in four years. The nonprofit opened its 3,000-square-foot home in 2018. But it has not had the money to staff a residential program until now.

“What is so exciting about the federal grant is that it’s renewable,” said Albert. Should all go well, that means that, for the foreseeable future, Haven could offer room and board to 68 kids per year who might otherwise wind up living on the streets or getting incarcerated.

Albert is equally as excited about the drop-in centers. While funding for the program still needs be authorized by the Board of Education, on Friday, Oct. 1, schools Superintendent Franklin Walker signaled his approval of the $170,000 pilot project. The program would run for six months starting January 2022, with one location in a high school and the other in a middle school. Current Haven social workers and “youth advocates” would staff the centers, and buses would be available after school to take students to Haven itself should they wish to hang out there for several hours or grab a meal.

The Board will render its verdict on the project when it meets on Thursday, Oct. 28.

Those interested in applying to become the project manager at either of Haven’s new initiatives should email Amy Albert at AAlbert@havenrespite.org.

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.