What drew you to services for homeless youth and young adults as a social worker?

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Jennifer McClendon, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno for the School of Social Work’s online Master of Social Work program, shares what drew her to services for homeless youth and young adults as a social worker.


One of my first jobs out of graduate school was on a crisis hotline.

The hotline provided free emergency assessments to callers from our community. While most often we were dispatched to homes, we would also get sent to agencies, like homeless shelters, after-school programs, or rural hospitals.

One time I was dispatched to conduct an assessment at a shelter for runaway homeless youth. I had a graduate degree in social work, some life experience, and I’d been working in mental health and crisis response for several years and yet, somehow, I never knew that there were homeless shelters specifically for children and teens.

I was so curious and fascinated. But as I got more involved, I found that these kids were so funny, smart, and resilient. I wanted to do what I could to support them and to support the agencies and front line workers that cared for them.