Hello, I’m Andre Wade and I too am a program and policy analyst – working on homeless youth issues – at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Today I’ll be talking to you about interventions for populations and subpopulations of homeless youth.
The interventions for youth based upon the age ranges of under 18; and 18-24. And as you can see we’ll also be looking at young families between the ages of 18-24. Furthermore, we’ll be talking about the subpopulations of these youth based upon their connectedness to family and school and/or length of homelessness episode that Sam covered in her presentation.
Given that most youth return home, it appears that family intervention models could ensure they are doing so safely and appropriately and give them the supports to succeed while minimizing their time on the streets.
Family intervention is a major component of the basic center program, which is funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Basic Center providers develop plans for contacting parents, or other relatives, to return the youth home – if it is safe to do so. Basic Center programs also have the option to provide in-home based services to youth and their families, which include various skills building for youth; parenting skills, referrals to community resources. Families can include not only parents and legal guardians, but also extended family and fictive kin.
The focus on family intervention should be further expanded to transitional living programs to be a concurrent plan along with preparing a youth for self-sufficiency.
It is important to note that other family interventions such as family finding, and family connection are important to all youth no matter their age, or the program they are in. Family interventions that connect youth to carrying adults show outcomes for increasing a youth’s future success by providing a support network for them.
For youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning programs should work with families to increase family acceptance to decrease youth’s risky behavior as based upon the work of the Family Acceptance Project. On the Alliance’s website we have another webinar titled, “Family Intervention to Address and Prevent Homelessness Among LGBTQ Youth,” which includes a presentation by Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project as well as the Family Therapy Intervention Pilot, in New York City, being implemented by SCO Family Services and Green Chimneys.
For those youth that are unable to return home, we think that transitional living programs and transitional housing programs are providing a platform from which youth can become independent adults. Youth in housing programs live in housing models such as congregate, scattered site, and host homes.
A menu of services ought to be available to youth including case management, employment and education services, and health services to name a few. These services are invaluable in aiding youth in becoming self-sufficient – and even more so as the capacity of local community social service providers has decreased under economic stress.
Similar to youth under the age of 18, reunification with family, in the broadest sense, as a way to end homelessness for a youth, should be considered a positive outcome. Also, for youth 18 and over programs have the flexibility to connect these youth with relatives or fictive kin as a housing resource if the youth’s parents are not an option as the legal restrictions for working with minors does not exist. We know that family intervention work – and especially family reunification – is difficult for older youth; however intensive family intervention services may prove to be a viable solution for many of these youth, especially when connecting them to caring adults.
Youth over the age of 18 also have the advantage of being able to establish their own households, because they can become lease holders; and have access to resources funneled through the Continuum of Care in their community meaning they can access rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and, when appropriate, permanent supportive housing. Rapid re-housing places older youth in a unit of their own. A number of communities started using a rapid re-housing model for youth with success with the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program. These programs include LifeWorks in Austin Texas, Volunteers of America – Dakotas, Hope Street in Minneapolis Minnesota and Urban Peak in Denver Colorado to name a few. There are profile briefs on our website under youth.
Some youth may require a more supportive or long-term housing program. Transitional living programs and transitional housing programs can provide youth who need it with more structure and support. And, for some youth, those that have been homeless for long periods of time and have a disability, permanent supportive housing is a housing option available to provide youth with the long-term financial and services support they will need to maintain housing.
As with youth under the age of 18, it is important that these programs be accessible and have minimal barriers to entry and that programs work to prevent youth from exiting these programs back to the street.
Programs serving youth ages 18 to 24 who are unable to move back with their families, like those serving youth under the age of 18, should spend time on helping youth develop and maintain relationships with a support network of family and other caring adults through family connection and mentor programs.
Parenting youth that are homeless are able to access the larger, more resourced continuum of care programs that provide for rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.
As young families make up a significant portion of the families currently being served within the families system, it stands that the interventions that are appropriate for homeless families are generally appropriate for families headed by young parents as well, with the caveat that, like with other youth who are not parenting, family reunification should be considered a successful outcome, if attainable, for the majority of young parents.
For those young parents that cannot be reunified with an appropriate family member or other supportive adult in their life, the large majority of young parents, like the large majority of homeless families in general, can most likely have their homelessness ended through rapid re-housing and relatively small amounts of assistance. For some young parents, longer term financial assistance and services may be necessary. No matter the duration of a program, those programs serving young parents should be aware of the needs of the youth as both a parent and as an adolescent.
We need to improve crisis responses and prevent youth from entering homelessness. There are too few basic center or other shelter programs to meet the existing need. Leaving youth unsheltered is unacceptable. We are committed to work to secure more resources for crisis housing for youth that is focused on reunifying and connecting youth with their families.
Most youth return home to family and we should encourage and facilitate that process. Communities will need to continue to prioritize family intervention, as they already do in their basic center program. However, this focus should be expanded to transitional living and transitional housing programs as well as any other types of programs in which youth live. The desires of youth, and their safety should be a major factor in determining the appropriateness for family intervention work.
As youth with serious needs remain on the street, we know that some of the most vulnerable youth are not accessing the supports they require. So it is important to expand the reach and effectiveness of transitional living and housing programs. Communities should place a greater emphasis on minimizing the barriers to enter programs and work to reduce the number of involuntary exits from programs. First Place for Youth, a program in Oakland, California, is an example of a provider who has implemented a low-barrier approach and as a result has a low rate of involuntary exits. A write up of First Place for Youth can be found on the Alliance’s website.
We need to move youth off of the streets and into housing as quickly as possible and then work to keep them in housing and engaged. And communities need to ensure that their programs are accepting and inviting to LGBTQ youth.
All programs that are serving youth should make sure to link youth to or provide services to youth that are developmentally appropriate. It is important that service development and planning be informed by youth that are participating in the services. Youth will be more engaged in services that are representative of their stated needs and wants. And, for youth who are pregnant and parenting, it is important that programs support these youth both in their parenting role and as a still developing adolescent.
Lastly, we believe better data is critical. The estimates we have made in this presentation are our best current estimates. As we get better data these estimates will be refined. Nationally, we need to make further progress toward collecting better data that can be used to inform the size and type of interventions that local communities offer. We need to begin, to continue and improve measurement as to how well programs are performing in serving runaway and homeless youth. Communities should encourage better coordination of local homeless youth data with other local HUD continuum of care efforts, including local Point-In-Time counts, and participating in HMIS data that could help local programs to identify youth who exit their programs only to enter programs for homeless adults. Locally communities can make efforts to decrease duplications in their street outreach data to better track their street population at any given time. The Alliance will continue to push for both better data on the number of homeless youth and on the effectiveness of programs serving youth. It is the key to knowing if we are making progress in ending youth homelessness and the interventions that are proven successful in doing so.
Stay on the look out for more published profiles and webinars that will highlight promising and emerging practices.
To watch the webinar on Family Intervention to Address and Prevent Homelessness Among LGBTQ Youth, which features the Family Acceptance Project and the Family Therapy Intervention Pilot Project, please go to the links on the slide. You can also go to the Alliance’s webpage: www.endyouthhomelessness.org and go to LGBTQ youth on the left side of the page to find this information. You can also type in a few key words.
And to read profiles of communities that implemented rapid re-housing for youth you can go to the link, or to www.endyouthhomelessness.org and type in the key word/phrase “Rapid rehousing for youth”
And lastly, to read about First Place for Youth you can find the profile on the www.endyouthhomelessness.org page or type in “First Place for Youth.”
Thank you and I’ll turn it over to Sharon who will be faciliating the Q and A.
Interventions for homeless youth
André C. Wade
Program and Policy
National Alliance to End
Populations & Subpopulations
Homeless Youth Under Age 18
(temporarily disconnected, unstably connected, chronically disconnected)
Homeless Youth Ages 18-24
(short-term, episodic, chronic)
Homeless Young Families 18-24
(temporary, long-term-stayers, episodic/chronic)
Interventions for Young Families Ages 18-24
Category Percentage Intervention
Temporary 72-75% -Family Intervention
20% -Rapid Re-Housing
Episodic/Chronic 5-8% -TLP/Transition in
Housing and Services
Overarching Strategies and Goals
• Improve crisis response and prevent youth from
• Place greater emphasis on family intervention.
• Expand the reach and effectiveness of transitional
• Improve data.
Examples of Programs and Practices
Family Intervention to Address and Prevent Homelessness Among
Family Acceptance Project, San Francisco, CA
Family Therapy Intervention Pilot Project, New York, NY
• http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4304/ (webinar)
• http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4300 (brief)
Rapid-Rehousing for Youth Profiles
Life Works, Austin, TX ● Volunteers of America – Dakotas ● Hope Street,
Minneapolis, MN ● Urban Peak, Denver, CO ● And more
Low-Barrier Approach in TLP
First Place for Youth, Oakland, CA
• http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4015 (profile)
André C. Wade
Program and Policy Analyst
National Alliance to End Homelessness