The Ruth Ellis Center (REC), incorporated in 1999, is a youth social services agency with a mission “to provide short-term and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.” As LGBTQ youth continue to be disproportionately affected by homelessness, the Ruth Ellis Center remains dedicated to ensuring that these vulnerable youth and young adults receive the services and inherent protections available to all citizens. While the Center emphasizes serving LGBTQ youth who are often ostracized, shamed, and denied services by other agencies, no youth, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation is turned away or denied services.
The Ruth Ellis Center currently operates four core services: (1) our residential housing program—Ruth’s House; (2) Second Stories Drop-In Center; (3) Integrated Primary & Behavioral Health Care; and (4) Family Preservation. Through the application of positive youth development programming, facilitated psycho-educational peer support groups, structured mentoring programs and the provision of core and adjunct services, either on-site or through referrals, we seek to provide life-enhancing and life-sustaining services designed to improve the health outcomes of homeless LGBTQ youth and encourage thriving behavior.
The Second Stories Drop-in Center is a safe place for Lesbian Gay Bi Trans* and Questioning Youth ages 13-30 to simply be themselves and have a space to hang out with one another.
Here Youth Have Access To:
Safer sex supplies, Hot Dinners, Food-to-go, Beauty Kit, Computer Lab and Free Printing, Free Laundry Room, Open Clothes Closet, Peer Support Groups, Recreational Activities.
REC Will Also Help Youth Get Connected To:
Ruth Ellis Health & Wellness Center, Family Preservation Program, Case Management, A Place to Stay, Educational Programs, Finding a Job, Bus Tickets.
While there is evidence to support the need for specialized services for LGBTQ youth in the children’s welfare system, Ruth’s House, REC’s Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) for youth ages 12-17 is the only residential foster care facility specifically for LGBTQ youth in the Midwest.
Our ITU program serves young people in the foster care system by providing services in a home-like setting that meet the individual needs of the youth while they are in care. Currently Ruth’s House is licensed to house up to 9 youth.
Who Do We Serve?
Youth identifying themselves as LGBTQ may have additional challenges and risks associated with societal and/or family acceptance, traumatic history and/or a history of participating in high risk behaviors related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. In accordance with the mission of the Ruth Ellis Center, the ITU program is designed to meet the specific needs of each LGBTQ young person, at the precise level of support and assistance they need to move to successful reunification, independence, or other alternative placement.
We Receive Referrals From
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Wayne County Juvenile Justice upon DHHS approval
- Contract Service Providers
In October 2015, Ruth Ellis Center (REC) began a pilot designed to help LGBTQ children and youth who may be at risk for removal from their families by the State (Child Protective Services) and there is evidence that parental mistreatment may be related to the child’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. The program has key goals of family engagement, preservation, and support.
The program is being implemented as a collaboration between the Ruth Ellis Center and Dr. Caitlin Ryan and the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at SF State University. The FAP-REC program model adds an essential component for families with LGBTQ children: specific research-based strategies that help families understand their child’s sexual orientation, gender identity and [removed]SOGIE) in a cultural context, teaches families how to identify and modify specific rejecting behaviors that increase their LGBT child’s risk for suicide, substance abuse, HIV, family conflict, etc., helps families to increase accepting behaviors that promote well-being, and build interactional skills while connecting families with an LGBT affirmative environment.
- REC has trained almost every Child Protective Services case worker in Wayne County to identify abusive and harmful behaviors related to a child’s LGBT identify and gender expression. The Ruth Ellis Center receives referrals from the county’s Child Protective Services case managers.
- REC provides up to 13 months of intense home-based family support services.
Health & Wellness Center
Primary Care Services (Provided in partnership with Henry Ford Health System)
- Quick visits for general medical issues (sore throat, rash, ear infection, cough/cold)
- Visits for longer term medical issues (asthma management, healthy weight, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.)
- Vision and hearing screening tests with referrals
- STD testing and treatment
- HIV testing and guidance
- HIV prevention services
- Transition care for transgender youth
- Birth control
- Screening for need of emergency services
- Dental Services (cleaning, exams, prevention)
Behavioral Health Care Services (REC is contracted through Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority)
- Individual, Family & Group Counseling
- Substance Use Disorder Treatment & Prevention