A safety net for troubled youth in and around Stillwater

Payne County Youth Services offers comfort, counselling and care when it’s needed most

For the youth of Payne County, it’s a safe place to land—and, at the same time, get back on their feet.

For nearly 50 years, Payne County Youth Services has helped troubled Oklahoma kids and teens in a variety of ways, including an emergency shelter, in-school counselling, foster care, outpatient mental health, and substance abuse guidance.

“We’ve had some youth who see our services as their home, which we love. They feel safe here, and we treasure that,” says executive director Janet Fultz. “But obviously our goal is to have them find genuine homes outside of our services.

“We are always grateful these kids at least know they can come to us, our shelter and our counsellors and be accepted for whatever circumstances brought them to us,” she says.

PCYS, a private, non-profit organization, serves youth aged 4 up to 22 in and around Stillwater, with most of its programs focusing on youth in Grades 6 through 12 via in-school counselling. Residential programs include an emergency youth shelter and foster care.

“Our emergency youth shelter is home to youth ages 7 to 17,” says Fultz. “They may be there for a few hours, days, weeks, months or over a year. We don’t determine when and where they leave to, we just provide for them while they live with us. We also serve runaway and homeless children.”

The organization also began offering foster care in recent years, filling a critical need. Statewide last year, there were 109 too few beds for foster children, and PCYS is working to recruit, train and support additional foster homes.

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PCYS also helps young adults aged 18 through 22 get on their feet. “We pay their rent for 18 months, while they work on finishing high school, getting a GED or post-secondary education,” Fultz says.

These participants must also have a job, be involved in volunteering and attend counselling and life skills classes. Says Fultz: “The goal is for them to take over the apartment lease from us and be well on their way. A lot of participants are homeless when they come to us, so this means a lot for them.”

PCYS runs on a variety of state and federal grants, as well as support from local donors, volunteers and business partners. Enbridge is committed to positively impacting the communities we operate in and around, and our recent $3,000 donation to PCYS will help fund the non-profit’s ongoing good work.

Enbridge was recently the presenter, for the second straight year, of the organization’s Evening to Remember gala, which included performances from the Stillwater High School music group and orchestra and raised about $30,000, says Fultz.

In the past year, PCYS expanded its suite of services by designing a community suicide prevention network.

“We’ve watched the incidence of suicide rise around the country and recognize that there is a definite problem here in Oklahoma and in Payne County,” says Fultz. “Our goal is to train as many individuals as possible, from businesses, schools, churches, civic groups, you name it.”