Unaccompanied youths and families with children made up approximately 35% of Arizona’s homeless population in 2022. Housing insecurity, paired with mental illness, addiction, domestic violence and poverty, puts these young people at an increased risk of illness and injury, and most don’t have access to appropriate health care.

That’s where people like Julia Wise, RN, CPN, come in. For more than a decade, Wise has worked for the Phoenix Children’s Homeless Youth Outreach (HYO) program. Wise and other HYO staff travel to multiple shelters, group homes, drop-in centers, schools and foster homes throughout Maricopa County on one of the program’s Crews’n Healthmobiles. These 35-foot mobile medical units allow Wise and her colleagues to bring care directly to children and young adults in need regardless of their ability to pay.

Wise says her role is unique in that she has to manage cases more closely than may be typical in a hospital, from tracking down medical records to helping patients navigate the health care system. “We’re only a small part of their journey, but we aim to always be a source of support for them during really difficult times,” she says.

A homeless mother holds her daughter as they sit outside the Crews'n Healthmobile.

It’s a role that is continually growing in scope, Wise says, thanks in part to the generosity of Boeing, which has donated $425,000 to support the philanthropically funded program over the past three years. The aerospace company not only directly funds HYO but also volunteers with the program to provide additional support, such as building hygiene kits for staff to distribute.

“Our partnership with Phoenix Children’s allows us to make a difference for children and families while letting our employees give back in a meaningful way,” says Kristin Sorensen, senior community and government relations specialist at Boeing. “We’re grateful to Phoenix Children’s and the HYO team for their commitment to bringing quality health care to all children and young adults in Arizona.”

Today, HYO oversees three permanent clinics in addition to mobile services. Clinics operate at UMOM New Day Centers, the largest shelter for homeless families in Phoenix; Children First Leadership Academy, a K–8 charter school where the vast majority of youth are living at or below the federal poverty level and are at risk of homelessness; and Phoenix Dream Center, an organization dedicated to providing shelter and services.

“In this line of work, you always hope that at some point, your services won’t be needed anymore,” Wise says. “Unfortunately, the homeless community has only grown over the past 12 years, but thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’ve been able to expand our services to keep up.”

A Phoenix Children's physician checks on the eye health of a homeless child.
Support and Grow This Vital Program

Discover how your organization can help. Contact Debbie Stantus, director of corporate development, at 602-933-2618 or dstantus@phoenixchildrens.com to learn more.

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