CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A newly-formed Teen Drop-In Center in the heart of Charleston’s West Side will provide anything from daily necessities, to academic and mental health services to young people in the area in need.

Mountain Care Network, a community and school-based mental health service organization started the new Teen Drop-In Center to address the low school attendance rates, as well as the growing number of unsheltered, delinquent, and abused teenagers throughout Kanawha County.

MCN held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center Wednesday, and was joined by Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, the Charleston Area Alliance, and Step By Step WV, a multifaceted organization that provides after school programs among other resources to area youth.

MCN Clinical Director Crystal Price said the center is open for young people ages 13 to 20. She said MCN teamed up with Step By Step to help address the issues and encourage students to stay in school.

“Mountain Care Network and Step By Step work closely with youth in that age range, and one of the themes we keep seeing is students missing school, skipping school for different reasons,” Price said.

The center will strive to meet the daily needs of teens by providing them with a number of services, including:

. Self-serve laundry services

. Hygiene products and shower access

. Emergency clothing

. Case management

. Academic Liaison to assist with educational needs

. After school programming assisted by Step By Step

. and Transportation services

Price said they feel like by providing such simple services to young people, it will help improve their attendance in schools and their overall wellbeing.

“As a licensed behavioral health center, we do work closely with these families, as well, and we find that sometimes the barriers can be solved with things like a shower, washing clothes, it’s not always that simple, but we did want to provide a space for that,” she said.

She said a teen would walk into the drop-in center and would meet with a case manager right away to assess what their individual and specific needs may be.

However, Price said sometimes the issues teens are facing go beyond the need for a hot shower or a ride.

She said since MCN started in 2019, they have seen a particularly drastic need for mental and behavioral health youth services, especially since the Covid-19 Pandemic, and she said which is another factor in low school attendance.

“We do see that as why often times kids aren’t making it to school, whether it be depression, anxiety, we are seeing a lot more kids afraid to leave their homes and things like that for different capacities,” she said.

Due to this, the center will also offer individual and group psychotherapy for teens, as well as other intense services.

Price said the overall mission of the center is to eliminate any and all barriers that may be keeping kids out of school.

“Sometimes kids come to school and they’re hungry, they’re tired, or they’re worried what other people may think about them, and we can kind of eliminate those problems through the services offered here, including the mental health support, the case management, the showering, the food, the snacks,” Price said.

The center is now located at 1410 4th Avenue inside of Risen City Church. It’s open Mon-Fri from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.