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Rob’s Cottage: Hope for Homeless Teens in Collier County

Homelessness among children and teens in Collier County is on the rise, but thankfully they have a place to find a soft landing, the help they need to get back on their feet, and a safe environment to call home thanks to Rob’s Cottage at Youth Haven.


Collier County Public Schools has identified 1,289 homeless students in our community, all of whom qualify for the support afforded them by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Youth Haven provides Collier County’s only Homeless Teen Transitional Living Program.

While we serve younger children in a separate area of our 18-acre campus – Rob’s Cottage is a voluntary residential program with an extensive screening process for homeless teens ages 16-20. Teens are given a safe and caring environment, access to intensive case management, educational support, nutritious meals, and medical and mental health services. Programs and classes focus on high school graduation, job readiness, preparing for higher education, and acquiring and maintaining independence and housing.


Two teen residents at Rob’s Cottage catch up on homework before group dinner.

Over 90% of the Teens at Rob’s Cottage are referred to Youth Haven by Collier County Public Schools or Collier County Homeless Coalition.


Teens at Rob’s Cottage are provided with:


  • a safe and caring environment
  • access to intensive case management
  • educational support
  • nutritious meals
  • medical and mental health services
  • classes and programs for everything from high school graduation to financial literacy

The stories of home, hope, and healing for homeless teens that land at Rob’s Cottage are endless. A recent resident decided to bravely share her story with us (and you) to help better illustrate how the structured environment, caring staff, and life-changing programs at Youth Haven helped save her life. Please take a moment to read Johane’s story.



Johane’s Story: A soft landing and a launching pad at Rob’s Cottage

As the oldest daughter in her family, 16-year-old Johane often had to care for her five siblings. Her single mother had difficulty providing for the family and struggled to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Johane recalls the day she couldn’t take it anymore.


“It was always hectic. I was busy taking care of my sisters and brothers. I had to put others first. There simply was no time for me. When I told a school counselor that life had gotten so bad that I didn’t want to live anymore, she listened. And then school officials told me about Youth Haven.”

Homeless teens often fall through the cracks in the child welfare system. Younger, more vulnerable infants and children are a higher priority. In Collier County, homeless teens have the option to choose to come to Youth Haven.


“When I arrived at Youth Haven, it was hard. I didn’t know anyone. I felt I had to advocate for myself,” said Johane.

“I was grateful that one of the first people I met was Ms. Tina, the Care Coordinator. She was bright, bubbly, and easy to talk to. I also have to say that Mr. Mick, the Manager at Rob’s Cottage, was especially helpful because he also spoke Creole. It was easy to connect with him. In fact, he often checked in on me to see if I needed help. He paid attention to me. He advocated for me when I needed it most.”

After being referred and completing an extensive screening process, Johane and other homeless teens at Rob’s Cottage, Youth Haven’s Transitional Living Cottage, are provided a safe and caring environment 24-hours a day, seven days week. Each teen receives case management services, educational support, nutritious meals, medical and mental health services, career readiness, preparing for higher education and strengthening community connections. Residents are expected to work toward self-sufficiency – an adult life outside of Youth Haven.

Since arriving at Youth Haven nearly six months ago, Johane has been able to focus on the goals she set during the admission process. She is doing well in high school and…


…with support from the Youth Haven team, she has earned a full scholarship to Florida International University (FIU) through the Golden Scholars Program.

Johane has been accepted to be part of a special FIU program that is only available to first-generation students from underrepresented backgrounds. She will receive year-round housing, and extra guidance and support will be provided by FIU staff and counselors that starts during the summer session, preparing her for the fall semester at the university.

At Rob’s Cottage, Johane is already serving as an inspiration for some of her teen peers. She is busily applying for nearly 30 additional scholarships and grants, taking the initiative to ensure financial support while she pursues a degree in broadcast journalism, with a goal to become a broadcast technician.


She recalls bad days and good days at Youth Haven. Johane shared that she especially enjoyed a shopping day with her roommate and a staff member. She said it was fun to get out and shopping was a good way to get to know her roommate. When she had a particularly tough day and was crying, her roommate was considerate to leave to give her some space. Johane thought she was kind to also come back to see how she was doing, even though they hadn’t known each other for very long.


“I am grateful to Youth Haven for giving me an opportunity for a life beyond poverty.

I can see there is a better way to live than the one I experienced for 16 years. At this time, I feel my biggest accomplishment has been to secure admission to FIU, along with several scholarships. While I advocated for myself, Youth Haven staff and volunteers were there to support me,” said Johane.

As the goal of Rob’s Cottage at Youth Haven is to help homeless teens work toward self-sufficiency, Johane certainly serves as an excellent role model.

For the 1,200+ homeless children and teens in Collier County, Johane’s story is all too familiar.  Thankfully, Johane had the support of Youth Haven to help during her time of need. The best way to support the children who call Youth Haven home is to make a donation to support our mission.

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