Youth run away from home for a variety of reasons and may experience periods of homelessness after running away. Many of these youth become exposed to risky and traumatic situations, placing them at greater risk for negative outcomes. Providing services that address their individual life situations is imperative to their success. In this section, find information on serving youth experiencing homelessness, including State and local examples, and youth who have run away.
Homeless and Runaway Youth
National Conference of State Legislatures
Outlines the demographics of runaway and homeless youth, as well as reasons youth become homeless or run away. The webpage also lists State legislation that works to address the problem of youth homelessness.
National Network for Youth
National Network for Youth
Provides information on youth experiencing homelessness. The organization educates the general public, advocates for effective policies, and empowers youth to use their own voice to affect change.
Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 (PDF - 1,315 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau (2014)
Documents the Family and Youth Services Bureau's commitment to the national goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. The report outlines the status, activities, and accomplishments of grantees.
A Review of Services and Interventions for Runaway and Homeless Youth: Moving Forward
Slesnick, Dashora, Letcher, Erdem, & Serovich (2009)
Children and Youth Services Review, 31(7)
Discusses research on the impact of community-based services and treatment interventions designed to intervene in the lives of runaway and homeless youth, concluding that comprehensive interventions that target the varied and interconnected needs of youth and families are worthy of more in-depth study than those studies that isolate the intervention focus on one problem.
Street Outreach Program
Family & Youth Services Bureau
Supports the connection between outreach workers and youth who are homeless or have runaway in an effort to assist youth on the streets with finding safe places to stay and help prevent abuse and sexual exploitation of these young people.
Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness: A Coordinated Community Response (PDF - 737 KB)
U.S. Interagency Working Group on Ending Youth Homelessness (2016)
Describes a shared vision for the community response that will be necessary to prevent and end youth homelessness.
Resources for Homeless Youth
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Outlines the various resources, programs, and services provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for youth experiencing homelessness.
State and District Implementation of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (PDF - 912 KB)
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service (2015)
Examines State and school district implementation of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program based on surveys of State EHCY coordinators and district homeless liaisons and analysis of extant data. Schools collected data such as homeless students' achievement on State assessments, graduation rates, and attendance rates, as well as barriers to school enrollment and attendance for homeless students. These barriers included transportation, family or student preoccupation with survival needs, delays in obtaining school records, and inability to complete school assignments because of the lack of an appropriate study area.
Students Living with Caregivers: Tips for Local Liaisons and School Personnel (PDF - 856 KB)
National Center for Homeless Education (2014)
Best Practices in Homeless Education Brief Series
Explores caregiver living situations and offers strategies that local homeless education liaisons and school staff can implement to ensure students staying with caregivers and their caregiver families receive appropriate services. The brief reviews the definition of homeless children and youth under Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reasons children live apart from their parents, and the risks children face when they are living apart from their parents.
"Then You Fall Off ": Youth Experiences and Responses to Transitioning to Homelessness
Santa Maria, Narendorf, Bezette-Flores, & Ha (2015)
Journal of Family Strengths, 1(15)
Discusses the experience of homelessness and unstable housing for youth. The study uses qualitative research to understand the lived experience of youth experiencing homelessness through youth descriptions of their experiences.
Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults With Child Welfare Involvement At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), 2013–2018
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (2017)
Provides project descriptions and reports from the two phases of the Children’s Bureau’s planning and implementation grants to build capacity to end youth homelessness.
California's Homeless Students: A Growing Population (PDF - 3,011 KB)
Hyatt, Walzer, & Julianelle (2014)
California Homeless Youth Project: Special Topics
Describes the number of students experiencing homelessness in California. The article makes recommendations to improve the academic achievement of students experiencing homelessness and data about such students, such as explicitly including homeless students in Local Control and Accountability Plans, increasing the accuracy and consistency of data collection and reporting across programs and agencies, increasing McKinney-Vento staffing in local educational agencies, and providing basic information about the McKinney-Vento Act and homeless youth to local educational agencies and school staff.
Youth Experiences Survey: Exploring the Sex Trafficking Experiences of Arizona's Homeless and Runaway Young Adults
Arizona State University, Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research & Tumbleweed Youth Services (2014)
Explores the unique experiences and challenges facing sex trafficked homeless young adults compared to non-sex trafficked homeless young adults in Arizona. This material was used as a handout for the National Convening on Trafficking and Child Welfare held on June 10–11, 2015.
"Can I Move out at 17?" Blog Series on Runaway Laws by State
National Runaway Safeline
Explores the laws around runaway youth in the 50 States, providing information on the definition of legal adult age, classifications of homeless youth, and what defines a "runaway." This blog post, "Can I Move Out if I'm 17?," breaks down the information by State.
Differences in Abuse and Related Risk and Protective Factors by Runaway Status for Adolescents Seen at a U.S. Child Advocacy Center (PDF - 167 KB)
Edinburgh, L., Harpin, S., Garcia, C., & Saewyc, E. (2014)
International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience, 1(1)
Examines the abuse prevalence and characteristics and risk and protective factors among both runaway and non-runaway adolescents evaluated at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Minnesota, which had implemented a referral program to assess runaways for potential sexual assault or sexual exploitation. Results suggest that runaways were significantly more likely than non-runaways to have experienced severe sexual abuse, to have used alcohol and drugs, and to have reported problem substance use behavior, higher levels of emotional distress, more sexual partners, and they were more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection. The study concludes that CACs should encourage referrals of runaway adolescents for routine assessment of sexual assault and incorporate screening for protective factors in addition to trauma responses in their assessments of all adolescents evaluated for possible sexual abuse to guide interventions.
National Runaway Safeline
National Runaway Safeline (NRS)
Provides support to youth who are thinking of running away or have run away. The website features resources for youth, including talking with parents, understanding the law, and dealing with bullies. NRS has expanded its Home Free program <link to https://www.1800runaway.org/2016/03/free-greyhound-tickets-to-homeless-youth-home-free-program-expands> to include youth through the age of 21 and youth who have been victimized by human trafficking. This program provides youth with a free Greyhound bus ticket home.
Safe Place for Youth
Outlines ways youth can remain safe within communities. The website highlights specific type of places where youth can go to find safety, such as schools, fire stations, and libraries.