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Idaho Youth Ranch’s youth shelter stops taking residents amid staffing shortage

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The Idaho Youth Ranch Hays House, the Treasure Valley’s only shelter for homeless and runaway youth, is temporarily not accepting youth residents because of staffing shortages, according to a press release. (Christina Lords/Idaho Capital Sun)

The Idaho Youth Ranch Hays House, the Treasure Valley’s only shelter for homeless and runaway youth, is temporarily not accepting youth residents because of staffing shortages, according to a press release.

“Obviously, we are very saddened by this turn of events,” Scott Curtis, chief executive officer of the Idaho Youth Ranch, said in the release. “Our team at Hays House has done tremendous work serving vulnerable young people throughout this crisis. Our chief concern throughout this pandemic has been and will continue to be serving Idaho’s young people with the level of care and services they need and deserve.”

The release said the added strain of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in higher needs among vulnerable populations such as at-risk youth, and they have implemented telehealth for mental health services and formed new collaborations for better assistance and services.

The shelter has been operating for nearly 50 years, and the organization said this is an opportunity for those who are passionate about working directly with Idaho youth to join the team and bring Hays House back to full operations as quickly as possible.

“Working in a shelter environment in normal times requires self-care and support for the secondary trauma staff often experience. Dealing with the stress of the pandemic, including open positions and the absence of staff out with COVID-19, has magnified the stress,” Curtis said in the release.

In addition to maintaining the 24-hour crisis line, the Idaho Youth Ranch said in the release it is entirely focused on recruiting, hiring and training the staff team at Hays House. A long-time Hays House director has also come out of retirement to help hire and train staff, according to the release.

Anyone who is interested in helping at Hays House can apply online at youthranch.org.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.