Housing, Shelter

Alternative House- the Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge

  • Dunn Loring, VA
  • WWW.THEALTERNATIVEHOUSE.ORG

Mission Statement

The mission of Alternative House is to transform the lives of children, youth and families by providing safe havens where they can grow and thrive. For more than 43 years Alternative House has provided services and programs which work to break cycles of poverty and violence that prevent children from reaching their full potential. Our vision is of a community in which all young people are safe and valued.

Alternative House's programs come at no cost to young people or their families and include:

The Emergency Shelter for Teenagers--a three-week crisis shelter for youth 13 to 17 years old.

24-hour crisis hotline 1-800-SAY-TEEN that is affiliated with the National Runaway Safeline. Teens may also text TEENHELP to 855-11 to chat with a counselor.

Assisting Young Mothers--a transitional living program for homeless young women 16 to 24 years old who are pregnant or have small children.

The Homeless Youth Initiative--provides housing, case management and counseling to homeless Fairfax County students who do not have the support of a parent or guardian.

Our Transitional Living Program is similar to the Homeless Youth Initiative and serves homeless young people 18 to 22 years of age with rent support and assistance in finding employment and continuing their education.

Community Based Services--neighborhood outreach activities designed to bring services to at-risk youth and their families, including:

The Culmore Teen Center for seventh to twelfth graders after school, where we serve dinner most nights of the week- to the children as well as their families.

The Culmore, Springfield and Annandale Safe Youth Projects, out-of-school programs for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.

The Culmore and Springfield Family Resource Centers-- with a focus on parenting and family support, the centers are a collaborative effort among community-based organizations, the private sector and county agencies to bring services, information, and resources to parents and children such as computer learning courses, teen and youth programs, language classes, legal services, tutoring, form assistance (e.g. benefits, unemployment), and joint parent-and-child programs.

In addition to these programs, Alternative House offers a myriad of supportive services, including walk-in crisis counseling, family therapy, information and referral, community education, etc.

Main Programs

  1. Emergency Shelter for Teenagers
  2. Assisting Young Mothers (AYM)
  3. Community Based Services
  4. Homeless Youth Initiative
  5. Transitional Living Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

Virginia

Our programs are located in Fairfax County, Virginia. The children, young people and families whom we serve come from any area of the country; most are from the Washington, DC area.

ruling year

1972

Executive Director

Self-reported

Mrs. Judith Dittman

Keywords

Self-reported

Youth, children, at-risk youth, families, child abuse, runaways, shelter, crisis, abuse, homeless, battered, Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge, Alternative House, pregnant, parenting, teens, adolescents, young people, hotline, teenage, outreach, community.

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Also Known As

Alternative House- Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge

EIN

54-0899463

 Number

2403500840

Physical Address

2100 Gallows Road

Vienna, VA 22182

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Our Emergency Shelter for Teenagers serves approximately 150 homeless, runaway and abused youth each year. In addition to providing a safe haven, food and clothing to young people, teens receive intensive individual, group and family counseling, and crisis stabilization. Of young people who come to us from an intact home, approximately 95% return home with supportive after-care counseling available. In 2015, 99% of teens at our Emergency Shelter for Teenagers exited the program to safe living situations with supports in place.

In 2015, 85% of young moms at our Assisting Young Mothers program improved parenting skills and 87% met their work and educational goals.
Nationally, less than one-third of teenage mothers receive a high school diploma and only 1.5% earns a college degree by the age of 30. Of the young women participating in Assisting Young Mothers program over the past three years, 95% have achieved a high school degree before they left the program. Half of the young mothers in the program are both employed and enrolled in college.

In the past year 100% of our young moms left with their high school diploma and 50% have pursued higher education.

In 2015, 99% of graduating seniors at our Homeless Youth Initiative went on to higher education, employment or a combination of work and study.

In 2015, our Transitional Living Program sheltered 15 young people and provided case management and other services to 43 additional young people.

In 2015, 96% of the teens at our Teen Center improved academically, and of our seven graduating seniors, six are going on to attend college.

In 2015, 13,696 meals were provided at our Teen Center and Safe Youth Projects, and 96% of our 4th through 6th graders improved academically.

Last year at the Culmore and Springfield Family Resource Centers, counselors provided programs and services to more than 20,840 members of the community.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Emergency Shelter for Teenagers

The Emergency Shelter for Teenagers provides safe shelter, food and clothing to young people 13 to 17 years old who are homeless, abused, or runaways. The program provides a supportive, safe place to land at a critical time when the stakes are highest, and as teens begin to make the kinds of decisions that may create vastly different outcomes in their futures. Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at no cost to teens or their families. In addition to providing a safe haven, food and clothing to young people, teens receive intensive individual counseling, group counseling and crisis stabilization. Whenever possible family counseling is also provided.  Young people may stay at the shelter for up to three weeks at a time. The goal is to reunite teens with their families when possible with supports in place for the future. When this is not possible, we work to find an alternative, safe, long-term living arrangement for the youth.
Our Emergency Shelter for Teenagers serves approximately 150 homeless, runaway and abused youth each year. In the past four years, of young people who come to us from an intact home, approximately 92% returned home with supportive after-care counseling available.

Category

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Homeless

None

Budget

$651,136.00

Program 2

Assisting Young Mothers (AYM)

Our Assisting Young Mothers program for pregnant and parenting girls who are homeless was full the day it opened and has a large waiting list. These 18 and 24 month residential programs for young women 16 to 24 years old and their babies helps the young women increase their parenting skills, continue their education, receive employment training and save towards the day they will leave the program and establish a home for themselves and their child. The mothers work or attend school for at least 30 hours per week and participate in life skills classes . In addition, all of the young mothers regularly attend counseling sessions with Alternative House’s licensed therapist as all have experienced the chaos and trauma associated with homelessness. . As the mothers balance parenting responsibilities with a viable career path, our staff helps the young women learn the skills needed to become more nurturing parents and contributing members of the community. Nineteen young women and their children participated in Assisting Young Mothers between 2014 and 2015.

The Assisting Young Mothers program will utilize a number of strategies and services including providing supports such as the following:

• Counseling in basic life skills including money management, budgeting, consumer education, use of credit, and interpersonal skills building.
• Assistance in obtaining a high school diploma or GED.
• Assistance in acquiring job attainment skills including interviewing techniques and resume preparation.
• Assistance in obtaining physical health care for both mothers and children.

A minimum of 15 unduplicated homeless pregnant and parenting young women between the ages of 16 and 24 and their children will access the above services and strategies each fiscal year. A minimum of 15 unduplicated households will be served.

• At least 15 young women and a minimum of 15 children will be provided with supervised shelter. Supervision will consist of daily visits from the Case Manager and the shelter will be provided in townhouses located in Fairfax County. Staff is also available to the young mothers 24 hours a day by phone.
• At least 15 young women will receive counseling services in basic life skills including money management, budgeting, consumer education, use of credit, and interpersonal skills building. Life skills education, targeted to each resident’s needs, will help the young women gain the skills they need to be able to live independently when they graduate from the program.
• Any young woman who enters the program without a high school diploma or GED will receive the assistance they need to acquire one. In the past, about half of the program participants have not had their high school degrees. Young women who have their diploma will be encouraged to enroll in higher education and/or job training programs.
• At least 15 young women will receive assistance in acquiring job attainment skills including interviewing techniques and resume preparation.
• At least 15 young women will save 45% of their income in an escrow account with Alternative House or will save 30% of their income and use 15% toward debt reduction. This will allow them to have funds sufficient to live independently in the community when they graduate from the program.
• At least 15 young women and children will receive assistance in obtaining physical health care. It is crucial for the children so that they receive the needed vaccinations and well-baby care necessary for them to become healthy children.
• At least 15 young women will receive both formal and informal instruction in parenting skills. All of the residents will work one-on-one with their case manager as well as participate in parenting groups.
• At least 15 young women will receive instruction in health and nutrition. These classes will target both adult nutrition and healthy eating for the children and include “hands on” instruction through trips to the grocery store, visits from a nutritionist and cooking instruction. This contributes to program participants remaining healthy so that they can live independently in the community. It also provides their children with the nutrition foundation needed to grow and develop normally.
• At least 15 young women will be offered the opportunity to participate in Community Service Learning projects and volunteer opportunities.
• At least 15 young women will receive mental health services through weekly sessions with an Alternative House therapist or with other therapy resources in the community. All of the residents in the program have mental health diagnoses and the Assisting Young Mothers program is licensed by the State Department of Behavioral Health as a Supported Living Program. 60% of young women in the program have experienced domestic violence. Many of them have been in and out of foster care. All of them have experienced the chaos of homelessness.

Category

Housing

Population(s) Served

Female Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)

Homeless

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$429,479.00

Program 3

Community Based Services

Our Community-Based Services programs reach young people and in their neighborhoods, providing services designed to keep them in school and away from negative influences. 

We offer programs and services such as our drop-in Teen Center that provides after-school snacks, tutoring, supervised recreation, workshops and dinner most nights of the week- for our young people as well as their families. Other Safe Youth Projects work with youth in 4th through 6th grades providing after-school support.  All of the children and teens at our Community Based programs come from low income households and are especially vulnerable to being recruited into neighborhood gangs and other high-risk behaviors. They are homeless, have experienced homelessness, or are at high risk of becoming homeless.

We also operate two Fairfax County Family Resource Centers designed to serve as the liaison between the families in these impoverished neighborhoods and the community resources that are available to them. We provide services, information, referrals and resources to parents and children such as computer learning courses, teen and youth programs, language classes, legal services, tutoring, assistance with forms (e.g. benefits, unemployment, financial aid for college), and joint parent-and-child programs.

Category

Human Services

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$624,909.00

Program 4

Homeless Youth Initiative

The Homeless Youth Initiative helps homeless high school students who are 18 to 20 years old and alone.  These young people do not have the support of a parent or guardian and are struggling to stay in school.  Housing is provided through host homes, small rent subsidies and in a supervised single-family home.  Life skills, counseling and tutoring is also provided.

Category

Housing

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Homeless

None

Budget

$325,476.00

Program 5

Transitional Living Program

The Transitional Living Program helps homeless young people from 18 to 22 years old.  These young people may or may not have graduated from high school, and need help finding stability. Housing is provided through host homes, small rent subsidies and in a supervised single-family home.  Life skills, counseling and tutoring is also provided.

Category

Homeless

Population(s) Served

Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use

None

None

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Alternative House serves homeless, runaway and at-risk young people and families from Northern Virginia and beyond. Our programs are located in Fairfax County, the most populous of the Northern Virginia counties. In the greater metropolitan region, Fairfax County has the second largest number of homeless families.

    The effects of the recent economic crisis have not left our community unscathed. A 2015 survey found that one out of five students in Fairfax County Public Schools reported going hungry because of lack of food in the home in the previous 30 days, and almost 50,000 Fairfax County Public Schools students are currently eligible for subsidized meals according to the Virginia Department of Education. In the past three years Alternative House has seen a 75% increase in requests for food from the at-risk young people and families at our Community Based programs.

    Adolescence can be a tumultuous time. When combined with the trauma and chaos of homelessness, this period in a young person's life may feel like a constant, endless struggle. Alternative House provides services to tens of thousands of homeless and at-risk young people and families every year. Our programs and services help young people and families break cycles of poverty and violence, and our caring and qualified staff help young people accomplish self-identified goals. Alternative House is the only Northern Virginia nonprofit charity focusing exclusively on the needs of at-risk and homeless young people. The programs and services at Alternative House aim to help young people break cycles of poverty and violence and prevent life-long struggles by stepping in at critical moments when the stakes are highest. Our goal is to help young people make positive choices and shape a new narrative for their lives.

    In 2014-2015, Alternative House provided housing and support to approximately 539 young people at our Residential programs as well as services and programs to an additional 20,840 children and families at our Community-Based programs.

    Our most urgent priority is to move teenagers off the streets and into safe havens. Individual case services are also instrumental in helping our young people manage their emotions, handle crises, cope with trauma, and make positive decisions.

    Over the next five years we will increase the number of homeless and at-risk youth we can serve and advocate for policy changes that will help reduce the number of young people needing services.

    Our programs and services ensure that children and young people have access to safe shelter and caring adults; that no young person leaves any of our programs for an unsafe situation; that all young people know about the positive options that are available to them; and that our community provides a nurturing environment for all children and young people to grow and thrive.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Our strategies to achieve our goals include:
    Keep shelters open and staffed 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
    Hire well qualified and caring staff.
    Provide nutritious meals.
    Provide individual counseling
    Provide family therapy.
    Provide transition plans for all children and youth in residential programs.
    Provide ongoing after-care to all children, youth and families in residential programs.
    Provide workshops and group discussion opportunities dealing with issues affecting young people.
    Provide positive development and affirmations to all children and young people.
    Provide assistance with educational needs.
    Provide and/or facilitate parenting classes and information.
    Facilitate quality education from birth through graduate school for children and youth.
    Facilitate growth of employment skills, job readiness and employment options.
    Advocate for children, youth and families with local, state and federal government and organizations.
    Outreach to all facets of the community advocating for children, youth and families.

    By providing young people with safe places to live and gather and support services from caring well-trained staff and volunteers, we give young people the room they need to achieve their goals and become self-sufficient members of our community. These services also ensure young people are safe, form permanent connections to caring adults and grow in their ability to support themselves and make positive choices.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Alternative House has provided services to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth and their families for more than 43 years and has received federal funding since 1974. We have grown from a small shelter for runaway and homeless youth to a multi-faceted youth and family services organization. Our core assets include the capacity to work with young people in crisis. Knowledge of how to work with adolescents and young adults is key to our success. Our staff are trained in working with these young people to help them achieve successful outcomes.

    Alternative House has a diversified funding base with approximately 1/4 of our resources provided by federal government grants, approximately 1/4 from Fairfax County contracts and grants and 1/2 from our community. This includes strong support from the faith community, individuals and foundations. Community support also includes a strong volunteer effort. Last year more than 1,574 volunteers provided 14,953 hours of service.

    We provide tours of our organization three times a month to increase community knowledge of the issues and challenges facing young people as well as some of the solutions our organization provides.

    Partnerships with other organizations helps us reach our goals. Alternative House maintains links to more than 50 other service providers so that the young people we serve have access to services we cannot provide such as legal assistance, medical care, substance abuse treatment, etc. This provides quality support without duplication of efforts. Our long-standing presence in the community has allowed Alternative House to establish extensive service coordination plans with local jurisdictional authorities and governmental agencies involved with youth. A level of coordination consistent with state and local licensing requirements is maintained at all times. Agencies with which Alternative House has established plans for comprehensive and mutually beneficial service coordination include: law enforcement, health and mental health care providers, social services, child protective services, schools, culturally diverse organizations, youth outreach and advocacy groups and substance abuse centers.

    To ensure that funds are properly spent, Alternative House uses a nationally knows accounting software package and allocates funding into appropriate cost centers. We adhere to Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP) and obtain an annual audit from an independent auditing firm. For the past 20 years we have received a "clean" audit report.

    Finally, we implement Social Solutions Efforts to Outcomes software throughout our organization. This will allow us to better track the outcomes experienced by young people in our programs and fine tune our efforts to provide services effectively and efficiently.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Structured program data collection and review, with an eye towards program adjustments to improve performance, are scheduled on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. AH has implemented Social Solutions, Efforts to Outcomes Software. This data base allows us to better track our program efforts and outcomes. Reports generated from Efforts to Outcomes are reviewed by Program Coordinators and Directors on a weekly basis. These reports are reviewed by the Executive Director monthly and the Board of Directors, quarterly. At the end of each Fiscal Year Program Directors, the Executive Director and the Board of Directors measure our success against goals set in our Strategic Plan. Outcomes are reviewed to make certain program metrics are met and program adjustments are made to improve effectiveness.

    Key indicators include:
    Number of youth provided with shelter.
    Number of youth exiting programs to safe and appropriate living situations.
    Number of youth who are parents who improve their parenting skills.
    Increases in life skills achievements (such as budgeting, nutrition, time management, etc.).
    Educational achievements including number of youth graduating from high school and number moving on to higher education.
    Increasing levels of connections to caring adults and to the community.
    Number of youth who have stable employment at the appropriate level (part-time while in school, full-time if not enrolled in classes).

    These indicators are monitored on an ongoing basis as described above. When metrics are not met or we see a trend that indicate our young people are struggling in an area, programmatic changes are made. These metrics are also used to fine tune program offerings tailored to each individual.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    The programs and services at Alternative House help young people and families break cycles of poverty and violence. Caring and qualified staff help young people accomplish self-identified goals. Our most urgent priority is to move teenagers off the streets and into safe havens. Individual case services are also instrumental in helping our young people manage their emotions, handle crises, cope with trauma, and make positive choices.

    Our Assisting Young Mothers program and Homeless Youth Initiative are two of our Residential programs that provide supports and services to homeless young people.
    In the 2015 Fiscal Year, our Assisting Young Mothers program provided safe shelter and supports to 15 young women and children. With help from our staff, 85% of our young moms improved their parenting skills, 90% were successfully employed (many for the first time) and 90% reduced their debt while increasing their savings. These outcomes lead to our young women being able to successfully and safely support themselves and their children when they leave our program. This breaks cycles of poverty that is at times generational and gives hope not just to the young woman but to her children as well.

    Our Homeless Youth Initiative provides homeless, unaccompanied Fairfax County high school students with assistance in locating and paying for safe and appropriate shelter. At the program, our young people learn to budget, manage their time, maintain their health, prepare nutritious meals, and address mental health problems. Providing housing and equipping our young people with vital resources and skills help our young people focus on their academics and complete high school. Staff encourages young people to move on to higher education, employment, or a combination. Last year we provided housing to 40 young people through host homes, rent vouchers and group homes. 83 students received case management and counseling sessions. 90% of eligible high school seniors achieved their diploma during the 2015 school year.

    These are just two of several programs provided by Alternative House. Our cost-effective programs step in at critical junctures in a young person's life and empower them to transition into a successful adulthood instead of homelessness, jail or institutions. We offer an urgently needed response at a vital development stage—working to keep young people from entering an adult system that costs them their bright futures and society an average of $930,000 in care and lost wages over a lifetime. We have come a long way in our efforts, but there is still a ways to go. Our goal over the next ten years is to hire an additional 25 counselors, add four townhouses for our young moms & babies at Assisting Young Mothers and open another shelter for teenagers in Northern Virginia. Our programs are at maximum occupancy & have long waiting lists. Our goal is to not have to tell any young person they have to wait but to provide the help they need when they need it
Service Areas

Self-reported

Virginia

Our programs are located in Fairfax County, Virginia. The children, young people and families whom we serve come from any area of the country; most are from the Washington, DC area.

Additional Documents

Social Media

Funding Needs

One of our more urgent funding needs is our commitment to expand our Assisting Young Mother's program.  For every opening in this program we typically have 8 applicants.  This program not only addresses the current need for safe housing for a young mother and child but it also helps break the cycle of poverty and abuse.

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

ALTERNATIVE HOUSE D/B/A ABUSED & HOMELESS CHILDRENS REFUGE
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Alternative House- the Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
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Executive Director

Mrs. Judith Dittman

BIO

Judith Dittman is the Executive Director of Alternative House. She has been with the organization for 20 years. As Executive Director she has used her background of almost 30 years in nonprofit management and advocacy to obtain more services for at-risk abused, homeless and runaway youth including opening seven new programs in the last 12 years targeted to this population. She has served on federal panels to develop standards for federally funded programs serving runaway, homeless and street youth and was a Greater Washington Nonprofit Roundtable Fellow. She has presented at numerous National Conferences on topics relevant to youth and young adults and serves on the Policy Advisory Committee for the National Network for Youth.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive Director

"Alternative House - The Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge has provided quality services to at-risk, homeless, runaway and abused children and youth since 1972.  The recent economic downturn has made our services more crucial than ever.  The strain placed on families by the economy is resulting in more young people facing abuse, being kicked out of their homes or ending up homeless than ever before.  This, coupled with decreased funding from many of our long-time partners, has made the support of our community even more important.  I expect a record setting year for the number of children and youth making their way to our doors.  We are working very hard to make sure that we are here to provide that support."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mrs. Lisa Moffett

Coldwell Banker

Term: July 2012 - June 2013

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?