- The California Coalition for Youth (CCY) continues to work tirelessly for the well-being of youth across the state amidst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. During these challenging times, CCY continues to assist youth on two fronts, through public policy advocacy and its California Youth Crisis Line (CYCL).
While most of California continues to "shelter-in-place", CCY works hard on key initiatives, including those related to the needs of youth experiencing homelessness and the essential non-profit service providers supporting them.
“We applaud the Governor’s $100 million allocation to help homeless services providers respond to the needs of COVID-19 and Project Roomkey,” says Jevon Wilkes, Executive Director of CCY. “CCY is advancing the needs of youth and ensuring that youth are not forgotten in the state’s response.”
CCY has been instrumental in securing a set-aside to serve youth in recent state investments to address the state’s homelessness crisis. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, California already had the largest share of the nation's homeless unaccompanied youth.
“When thinking of individuals that are at-high risk - we are not only focusing on seniors, but youth that sleep on the streets with autoimmune disorders and other chronic health conditions, who need a safe place to go," said Wilkes, “Not just now during this crisis, but after, and for all youth.”
The ripple effects from the current pandemic and the (likely) resulting recession will only see that number increase. Following the 2008 recession, the unemployment rate of youth aged 16 to 24 was more than 18 percent or twice the overall unemployment rate; for young African Americans and Latinx, it rose to 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Unfortunately, this pandemic’s after-effects will more than likely have similar effects with increased homelessness and housing instability among California’s youth.
Since the start of 2020, CCY’s 24/7 crisis line, the CYCL, has answered over 5,500 calls, providing a listening ear and access to resources to youth and families. Over these last four months, call topics have varied from anxiety about COVID-19, the resulting loneliness and non-violent, family conflict from California’s current “shelter-in-place” order.
The CYCL is led by a team of 68 volunteers and nine part-time and full-time staff, providing 24/7 support to youth and families needing crisis navigation and access to local resources. The CYCL held its first completely remote training in May, opening volunteering opportunities to people across California. CYCL’s next training is planned for sometime in July 2020.
While answering all calls coming into the CYCL, crisis counselors support calls from other youth-serving organizations, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Teen Helpline, My Friend’s Place, and more.
During these uncertain times, as California slowly reopens businesses, schools, and public access areas, focus has to shift on the mental health needs of our youth. Studies have shown that youth during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown symptoms of PTSD and an increased use of negative coping strategies. The CYCL have also seen an increase in calls about anxiety, loneliness and depression over concerns and the isolation that COVID-19 brings.
This pandemic has shown us the vulnerabilities in the systems that are meant to help protect and support our most unprotected youth populations. It is also important that Californians continue to treat youth mental and emotional health symptoms of COVID-19 just as diligently as we treat the symptoms of the disease itself.
CCY will continue to dedicate itself to serving California’s Youth and will continue to do so after the dust settles. Youth and families in crisis during this time can still call or text our crisis line at 800-843-5200 or chat with us online at
For more information about CCY, please contact Executive Director, Jevon Wilkes at
and for more information about the CYCL please contact Program Manager, Bianca Christian at
. For media inquiries please contact CYCL marketing and outreach coordinator, Jason Alviar at
About the California Coalition for Youth
The California Coalition for Youth (CCY) is a thirty-eight-year-old grassroots non-profit organization located in Sacramento that, as a statewide coalition, takes positions on and advocates for public policies, programs and services that empower and improve the lives of all California’s youth ages 12-24. CCY represents several hundred youth and community agencies throughout California that focus on disconnected, homeless and runaway youth. Over 270,000 youth up to the age of 18 and many thousands more between the ages of 18-24 experience homelessness and lack the services they need each year in our state, and we are the leader on this issue and their voice at the state-wide level. In addition, CCY also operates the California Youth Crisis Line, a statewide, toll-free, 24-hour, confidential Hotline available to teens and young adults ages 12-24 and/or any adults supporting youth. If someone you know is in crisis, they can call or text 1-800-843-5200. CYCL is also an immediate, reliable and free link between youth and local services. We can help callers find homeless youth shelters, youth-serving medical clinics, on-going counseling services and much more throughout California. CCY is committed to improving and empowering the lives of California’s youth by advocating for the programs, support and resources they need to have successful lives.