Defining the Problem and the Population
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Status of Current RHY Services
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Funding and Technical Assistance

HoMELESS yOUTH:
Status of Current RHY Services

The universal goal of RHY programs is to assist youth in moving towards and adjusting to a safe and appropriate living arrangement. Of course, no homeless youth should be asked to return to a home in which physical, sexual or other abuse is the norm.  However, where appropriate, youth are encouraged to return home or may also be referred to a youth shelter or to an appropriate transitional living program.   Young people who are able to stay in the same community or in the same schools as before they became homeless have a better chance of avoiding the dangerous consequences for youth who do not have familiar support.1

RHY Programs: Basic Services: | Back to Top

RHY Programs provides services in three key areas:

The National Runaway Switchboard: | Back to Top

The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) is a national communications system that assists youth who have run away, or are considering running away, and their families.  With its database of more than 16,000 resources, NRS links youth and families across the country to shelters, counseling, medical assistance, and other vital services.  Striving to be a one-stop resource for youth in crisis, NRS offers a range of services.

When family reunification may not be appropriate | Back to Top

Family reunification may not a realistic option for runaway and homeless youth who left homes marked by violence and abuse or other severe family dysfunction.  Determining what circumstances would allow for a youth who has been abused or mistreated to safely return home – including intensive family counseling, family mediation, or other treatment or support – may be one of the most difficult facing those working with runaway and homeless youth.  These youth may be safer in transitional living programs or emancipation may need to be considered.  

In fact, one longitudinal study of 249 homeless youth in Detroit, ages 13 to 17 years, found that family reunification was a natural outcome for only one‐third of the homeless youth.2  In addition to situations in which a child or youth might be re-abused, there are two other groups of youth for whom reunification may be neither realistic nor appropriate: youth who have “aged out” of the foster care system or discharged from the juvenile justice system, and those runaway and homeless youth who have been living on the streets from a long period of time. Experts agree that because of the ongoing instability and trauma they have experienced, these youth will require extensive educational, psychosocial, and vocational training.3

1. National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Fundamental Issues to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness.” Youth Homelessness Series, Brief No. 1, May 2006, p 2.
2. National Alliance to End Homelessness, at 8.
3. Center for Law and Social Policy. (2003). Leave No Youth Behind: Opportunities to Reach Disconnected Youth, p. 57.

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