Learn How Morrison Serves Vulnerable Youth
Children and youth are some of our community’s most valuable resources. Ensuring families are healthy and strong, with the tools they need to thrive, shows an understanding and appreciation for our shared future. In 1947, Morrison Child and Family Services was founded by a group of concerned citizens and physicians committed to providing mental health services for children in the community. Dr. Carl Morrison, one of Oregon’s first child psychiatrists, served as Morrison’s Executive Director for 25 years. For over 70 years, Morrison has partnered with families and communities to provide effective and responsive services for children and youth coping with adversity and trauma. Morrison delivers these specialized services to children, from birth through age 21, and families coping with abuse, neglect, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health difficulties, and other harmful stress factors.
Morrison’s innovative programs support children and families by welcoming participation and input in their own treatment for services that integrate with their lives. The continuum of care is broad, and while the range and diversity vary from prevention to residential services, the results are similarly focused on working with families and communities to make a positive difference in each youth’s life. With an eye to the current and future needs of those served, the organization is known for responding to the needs of the community in new and innovative ways.
In January 2015, Morrison opened SAGE, a secure residential program for long-term stabilization for teenaged girls (ages 11-17) who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC). Commercial sexual exploitation includes a range of crimes and activities involving the sexual abuse and/or exploitation of a person for the financial bene t of any person, or in exchange for anything of value or the promise thereof, given or received by any person. According to the National Hotline for Human Trafficking, in 2017 there have been 3,186 verified reports of human trafficking and 1,438 of those were reports on minors.
Many of the youth in SAGE have experienced multiple environmental, social, and biological traumas. This may include sexual abuse, parental neglect and/or abuse, alcohol/drug dependency or abuse, school failure, and high levels of emotional vulnerability. This program serves these vulnerable youth by providing a safe and secure setting in which they can experience Support (S), Achieve (A) their goals, Grow (G), and become Empowered (E). The program, which is only one of a handful in the nation providing this level of service, has a twelve-resident capacity and an average stay of 18 months.
SAGE’s philosophy centers around the belief that the youth are not broken and do not need to fixed. They are children who have been subjected to abusive situations and have learned to adapt by developing coping strategies and behaviors that have successfully kept them alive but that society might identify as harmful or bad. They do not always identify their experiences as traumatic or exploitative and are frequently resistant to treatment. For these reasons, the program places the focus on providing a nurturing, safe, trauma-informed milieu that will allow treatment to happen when the youth are ready. While the number of youth in need is much larger than the program’s current capacity (12 beds), SAGE represents the community’s investment in ensuring this vulnerable population has the specialized treatment provision they need to thrive.
Interested in learning more about Morrison and the SAGE Program? Visit our website at morrisonkids.org or call us at 503-258-4227.