WASHINGTON, DC—On November 20, 2013, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced S. Res. 308, a joint resolution in the Senate recognizing the ideals of National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) to raise awareness about runaway and homeless youth issues in America.
Every November, National Runaway Safeline and the National Network for Youth lead their partners in NRPM activities. This concentrated, nationwide effort raises awareness about the issues that America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth face. They educate the public about solutions to prevent youth from running away from home. This resolution highlights the following realities about the state of America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth:
- Studies suggest that the prevalence of runaway and homelessness among youth in America every year is between 1,600,000 and 2,800,000.
- Running away from home or a foster care placement is widespread.
- Youth aged 12 to 17 are at a higher risk of homelessness than adults.
- Runaway youth most often are youth who have been expelled from their homes by their families; physically, sexually, and emotionally abused at home; separated from their parents by death and divorce; too poor to secure their own basic needs; and ineligible or unable to access adequate medical or mental health resources.
- Children and youth who run away are at increased risk for domestic sex trafficking.
- Effective programs supporting runaway youth and assisting youth and their families in remaining at home or in a safe foster home, succeed because of partnerships created among families, youth-based advocacy organizations, community-based human service agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and businesses.
- Preventing youth from running away from home or from foster care and supporting youth in high-risk situations is a family, community, and national priority.
- The future well-being of the Nation is dependent on the opportunities provided for youth and families to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as opportunities to make connections to caring adults and the opportunity to engage in age-appropriate activities in order to successfully transition to a safe, healthy and productive adulthood.
Senator Orrin Hatch, on introducing this resolution, “The number of runaway and homelessness among America’s youth is heartbreaking and something needs to change,” Hatch said. “Designating November National Runaway Prevention Month, as this resolution does, helps to increase public awareness of this critical issue and provide communities with the resources they need to promote prevention programs and provide effective solutions to better guarantee a safe, healthy, and promising future for youth runaways.”
Senator Patrick Leahy said in his statement, “It is a sad reality that millions of young people are living on the streets. We as legislators must do all we can to prevent homelessness and support youth who find themselves without a place to call home. We must recognize the importance of investing in our Nation’s youth and direct resources where they are needed most. It is just not acceptable that homeless children are turned away from shelters due to a lack of beds or that service providers are being forced to downsize. We can and must do more.”
“Senator Hatch and Senator Leahy have demonstrated that investing in and caring for America’s runaway and homeless youth is a bipartisan effort and vital to our nation’s future. Recognizing on congressional record that there are not enough resources allocated to prevent youth homelessness or provide housing for America’s children who are alone and sleeping on the streets is very important. Now, our next step is to increase the capacity of communities so they are able to serve every young person who needs a safe place to live, love, healing and the opportunity to grow into a successful adult.” says Darla Bardine, Policy Director at the National Network for Youth.
“Senator Hatch and Senator Leahy recognized that this silent crisis can strike any family and the issue impacts the entire community. Together, they took a bold step to ensure prevention is at the forefront of our nation’s efforts. Now, it is essential that all of us—parents, guardians, businesses, community groups, teachers, elected officials, human service agencies, and other individuals—support this initiative and work together to identify resources and help serve youth in need before it is too late,” said Maureen Blaha, National Runaway Safeline executive director.