Pathways, Inc. was organized in 1991 to assess and address the needs of runaway and homeless youth in Allen County and the surrounding area. In July of 1993, Pathways, Inc. began a two-year collaboration with Park Center to assist in the operation of New Directions, an emergency shelter for boys and girls ages seven through seventeen. When Park Center changed its focus to only very young children, Pathways, Inc. became the only resource group addressing the extensive needs of troubled adolescents and young adults in the Allen County area who are not involved with the child welfare or criminal justice systems. Pathways, Inc. has since developed a formal affiliation with The Villages of Indiana, Inc., and is now known as The Pathways and Villages’ Youth Program (Pathways).

The Pathways and Villages Youth Program is a grassroots program in the Fort Wayne area providing services to runaway and homeless youth between the ages of 17 to 21. These teens have not been designated by the courts as juvenile delinquents, nor are they abused, neglected or labeled as a “Child in Need of Services.” Because of this, they don’t qualify for most of the available programming that could help them. Ultimately, they fall between the cracks.

These youth need emotional encouragement and financial support. Pathways want to help them stabilize themselves before they become part of the child welfare system, or worse yet, part of the corrections system.

The Pathways and Villages Youth Program unites a broad array of community partners to provide emergency shelter for runaway and abandoned youth. Often, we find an opportunity to further assist these youth by helping to connect them to our other services. Our goal is to put them back on the path to self-sufficiency and independence. Pathways has become a safety net for these at risk youth at the most vulnerable time of their lives.

The Villages of Indiana was established as a catalyst for ensuring that children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected can be nurtured within a loving family environment. Since its inception in 1978, The Villages’ services have expanded to include therapeutic foster care, emergency respite care, family preservation and counseling services, special needs adoption, independent and transitional living services, kinship care services, healthy families home visitation services, and early childhood education and development services. The Fort Wayne regional staff serves nearly 100 children through their network of professional foster families.

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