• November 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 9

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Report to Congress Details Federal Efforts to Respond to Runaway Youth and Homelessness

Federal efforts to prevent and respond to youth homelessness and provide services to victims of human trafficking are outlined in a recent Report to Congress from the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 1974 authorizes the following programs to provide shelter and guidance for runaway, missing, homeless, and exploited youth:

  • Basic Center Program, for providing emergency shelter services to youth under age 18
  • Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home Program, to help prepare older youth, expectant mothers, and homeless young parents for independent living and adulthood
  • Street Outreach Program, to connect homeless youth with shelter and services

In each of fiscal years (FY) 2014 and FY 2015, Congress appropriated $114 million for these programs, which provide financial, emotional, and social resources through a network of support services. In FY 2014, these funds provided emergency shelter services to more than 30,000 young people and helped make contact with over 450,000 youth on the street. They also funded a national phone hotline, the National Runaway Safeline, as well as FYSB's coordinating, training, and research activities to prevent and respond to youth homelessness.

The following are findings and initiatives outlined in the Report to Congress:

  • The phone hotline handled close to a combined 170,000 calls in FY 2014 and 2015.
  • Seventy percent of the youth who stay in a basic center shelter return to the home of a parent or guardian.
  • Transitional living programs served 3,000 youth in FY 2014, with 88 percent of youth who leave transitional housing returning to their families or finding other stable housing situations.
  • Ninety percent of the youth receiving services from basic centers during FY 2014 reported that the primary reason they left home was due to a difficult family situation and 25 percent reported experiencing abuse and neglect.
  • In FY 2014, 33 percent of the youth in basic centers reported mental health problems and 25 percent reported issues with drinking and/or drugs.
  • FYSB is collecting data on four outcomes (safety, permanent connections, well-being, and self-sufficiency) to allow for more detailed outcomes findings in future reports to Congress.
  • FYSB is emphasizing its commitment to the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness by working closely with federal agencies to help adapt best practices in homelessness prevention and intervention to the needs of developing youth.
  • FYSB is committed to assuming a key role in the Federal Strategic Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking by ensuring its grantees can expand their capacity to respond to youth trafficking through appropriate training and resources.

Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 includes detailed demographic data and real-life stories of the youth served by these programs.

The report is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/fysb/fy_2014_and_2015_rhy_report_to_congress.pdf (2,200 KB).

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