What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
With the recent economic downturn, we have seen an upswing in youth homelessness. Staff in every Larkin Street program report that the youth that we are now seeing are more likely to have severe untreated mental health issues or behavioral problems than in the past. The past year has been a difficult one for social services in San Francisco, with numerous funding cuts to many of the organizations who might otherwise help intervene with these high-needs youth. This combination of factors make up the "defining moment" that led Larkin Street staff to develop the concept of taking mental health assessments and treatment to youth on the streets.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
Larkin Street is a leader in the field of youth development in large part because of our high caliber staff who share a rich base of knowledge, experience, disciplines, and skills that fortify our programs to achieve dramatic results among the homeless and at-risk youth we serve. Larkin Street’s Executive Director, Sherilyn Adams, leads Larkin Street with over 20 years of experience in program development and nonprofit management, addressing issues such as substance abuse, mental health, HIV/AIDS, child abuse, and family violence. Previously the Division Director for Supportive Housing and Case Management Services at Baker Places, Sherilyn developed and administered six housing and case management programs targeting dually- and triply-diagnosed adults. This included supervision of the agency’s Intake and Placement Team, and clinical oversight for all programs in a variety of housing and treatment settings. She has also managed residential treatment and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Sherilyn has served as Larkin Street’s Executive Director since August 2005. She demonstrates her deep commitment to building a diverse staff that is reflective of the clientele we serve, and to ensuring that staff development trainings are focused on leveraging and respecting diversity and cultural competencies.
Sherilyn sits on local, statewide and national planning, advisory and policy committees, including the San Francisco Transition Age Youth Task Force, the San Francisco Human Services Network, the California Coalition for Youth, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families. Her efforts to increase Larkin Street’s impact and reputation on the national level have garnered recognition from such prestigious sources as the Lewis Hine Award for Outstanding Services to Youth (2008) and the National Foster Care Parents’ Change a Lifetime Award (2007). Most recently, she was personally recognized as one of the San Francisco Business Times 2009 Most Influential Women in Business.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Through another organization or company
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation