Runaway and Homeless Youth
Runaway and homeless youth (RHY) can seem like an invisible population because they don’t always match our expectations of what homelessness—or youth—looks like. In this slideshow, learn some of the big statistics about this population, which might be larger and more diverse than you realized. Data drawn from our Issue Brief, Facts and Figures About Runaway and Homeless Youth.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed these FAQs about the coordinated entry (CE) processes specific to working with runaway and homeless youth populations. This document provides guidance for Continuums of Care (CoCs) and youth-serving providers about developing and implementing a CE process that is responsive and developmentally appropriate to the needs of youth.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Available for free download on the HUD Exchange website at: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Coordinated-Entry-and-…
Young, Alone, and Homeless in the Lone Star State: Policy Solutions to End Youth Homelessness in Texas
This report provides information on a study conducted in Texas to identify multi-system policy solutions that could prevent youth homelessness or provide for better interventions to ensure youth who encounter homelessness get back on their feet quickly. For this study, researchers interviewed more than 100 young people who had experienced or were experiencing homelessness in Texas, along with more than 50 school homeless liaisons, juvenile justice stakeholders, members of law enforcement, foster care stakeholders, and service providers. In addition, the researchers requested data from Texas agencies that serve youth or have responsibilities on issues related to youth homelessness and conducted research on existing programs and best practices. The study found that young people who encounter homelessness are at high risk of poor outcomes, including educational failure, juvenile or criminal justice involvement, victimization, and health and mental health problems. The report provides recommendations for the various agencies and policy arenas involved in youth homelessness (education, juvenile justice, foster care, and physical and behavioral health) as well as overarching, cross-system recommendations to improve service provision to and outcomes of youth who have experienced homelessness.
Texas Appleseed, Austin, TX.
Available for download free of charge at https://texasappleseed.org/sites/default/files/YoungAloneHomeless_FullR….
The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau developed this Resource Guide to support service providers in their work with parents, caregivers, and their children to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote child and family well-being. The Resource Guide primarily targets community-based child abuse prevention professionals who work to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being. However, other professionals, including policymakers, parent educators, family support workers, healthcare providers, program administrators, teachers, child care providers, mentors, and clergy, may also find it useful. It includes information about trauma, human trafficking, family homelessness, and youth-related issues. The guide is also available in Spanish.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Childrens Bureau
Available free of charge on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/guide_2019.pdf
This report describes the District of Columbias (DC) Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness (CPEYH), developed to complement the Districts overall plan to transform its homeless services system into an effective crisis response system focused on making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. In 2014, the DC Council passed the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act and the End Youth Homelessness Act. The bills provided resources to improve data collection and conduct an annual youth homelessness census, as well as develop the CPEYH. The plan establishes a roadmap for building an effective system of care for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness and an immediate framework for advancing coordinated work to prevent and end youth homelessness. The plan includes sections on understanding youth homelessness, including how DC trends compare to trends in the U.S.; a description of the plans vision and goals, principles, and building blocks; results of the modeling completed as part of the strategic planning process; and key strategies and transition planning to optimize the investments in the system and maximize results. The report concludes by noting that addressing youth homelessness is about more than stabilizing the immediate crisis and providing a quick connection to permanent housing. It is about helping youth develop healthy relationships with trusted adults, addressing emerging physical and behavioral health conditions, building independent living skills, and helping youth onto a path toward economic self-sufficiency.
Available free of charge from the District of Columbia website: https://ich.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ich/page_content/attach….
This journal article describes a study that examined the relationship between personal support network resources and mental health among runaway and homeless youth. The survey results from 693 participants in Atlanta, Georgia, indicate that more supportive network ties reduce the risk of symptoms of severe mental illness among youth who have been homeless. The study found that those young people homeless for more than 6 months reported having fewer personal network resources. According to the authors, the most significant finding was that age was an independently negative factor for certain types of support resources. That is, the older youth had less support from friends and coworkers than their younger peers. These findings suggest that increased isolation and fewer resources may negatively affect the mental and well-being of runaway and homeless youth as they grow older and stay on the street longer.
Available for free download at: http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/4/117
This report discusses the federal response to support the runaway and homeless youth population, specifically the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau; and other related programs. The report acknowledges that definitions of the terms “runaway” and “homeless youth” are not specified; however, both groups share the risk of having inadequate shelter and other provisions and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. These two groups also include “thrownaway” youth who are asked to leave their homes, as well as other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health issues. The term “unaccompanied youth” encompasses both runaways and homeless youth and is used in national data counts of the population. (author abstract modified)
Congressional Research Service
This report is available online at: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33785.pdf
This manual is a reference tool to provide basic guidance on data collection for Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program service providers who are using the integrated Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data system to capture youth data. The HMIS data collection system is used as the primary means for recording and reporting information about the needs, critical issues, and support received by runaway and homeless youth who are served by the RHY grant programs. The Street Outreach, Basic Center, and Transitional Living Programs are authorized to capture and report data to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (P.L. 108-96) which was reauthorized in 2008. HMIS replaces the former Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) desktop system.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Available for free download on the HUD Exchange website at: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/RHY-Program-HMIS-Manua…
Role of Social Environmental Protective Factors on Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Among Midwestern Homeless Youth
This journal article describes a study conducted to examine how social environmental factors affect mental health outcomes of homeless youth. The study collected longitudinal data on 150 homeless youth ages 16 to 22 in two Midwestern cities in the United States. Using a social stress framework, the study examined gender, sexual orientation, and the number of times youth had run away, along with whether the youth had participated in foster care and whether the youth had been physically victimized while on the street. The framework also measured the degree to which the youth felt they had social support and positive role models in their lives. The researchers posited that runaway and homeless youth who fall into socially stigmatized categories based on their gender or sexual orientation would present with more depressive symptoms and higher levels of anxiety than their non-stigmatized counterparts in similar circumstances based on length of time on the street. They also questioned whether protective factors helped reduce poor mental health outcomes for study participants, regardless of social stigmatization status. Results revealed that numerous stressors, such as physical abuse and running away from home more frequently, were associated with greater depressive symptoms and elevated anxiety. Having mentors and family and friends from home that youth can rely on resulted in more positive social support, which subsequently lowered risk for depressive symptoms and anxiety during the second interview.
Journal of Research on Adolescence
Full-text article available for free download at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jora.12326