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New shelter for homeless children opens in Florence

Loving Arms is the first and only youth shelter in Florence (WPDE)

The South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless says in January of last year there were a total of 759 homeless children.

For those children in the Pee Dee area, there's a new shelter for them.

Loving Arms is the first and only youth shelter in Florence.

"We are a safe haven that they can come to and get help. We work with those young people to, number one, identify what's going on and why did they run away from home. We also reach out to their families," CEO Cindy Williams said.

The non-profit houses youth ages 10 to 18 and provides outreach and case management to 18 to 24 -year-olds.

"If a young person was out on the street and homeless and unaccompanied they really couldn't go into a traditional shelter, a regular adult shelter, without an adult. They could actually come here," Williams said.

A part of the program is funded by the federal government, which decides the length of stay for each young person.

The shelter also provide services for the child's family, with their goal being a stable environment for the child to go back to.

"They would get assistance with ensuring that they're successful in school. If they're age-appropriate, than certainly we would look at careers, we'd do job development and training we'd teach them financial literacy skills, we'd help them to locate employment," Williams said.

Williams says even if you think you don't see homeless youth in Florence, they're there.

"They're in the schools. They're in the grocery stores. They're sitting at the table in the restaurant next to you. They're there," Williams said. "We do a lot of training and information sharing with members of community, with youth serving organizations, to teach them about recognizing young people who may be being trafficked, who may be out on the street, who maybe be homeless. Certainly they're there in the city."

The public is invited to the grand opening for Loving Arms on May 9th from 10 to 12 p.m.

The non profit has another location in Maryland.

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