For Release: April 15, 2015
Contact: Darla Bardine, National Network for Youth
email@example.com, 703 239 3122
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Network for Youth applauded the introduction of landmark legislation in the House yesterday to support vulnerable youth across the country. Yesterday, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.). The National Network for Youth has been leading the reauthorization of RHYA with its partners and convened a group of 35 experts who collaborated and developed recommendations for critical updates to the legislation.
“Runaway and homeless youth programs provide life-saving services to youth all across America, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act makes necessary updates to improve the services that homeless youth in crisis need to stabilize, avoid or leave victimization, reconnect with education and go on to thrive as adults,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director of the National Network for Youth.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015 (RHYTPA) (H.R. 1779) includes provisions for collecting data on victims of human trafficking, adds a nondiscrimination clause that brings the Act into accordance with the federal regulations that most runaway and homeless youth programs currently follow, and increases the allowable length of stay for Basic Center Programs from 21 to 30 days to give young people and their families more time to access reunification services when needed. H.R. 1779 is a companion bill to S.262 which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on January 27, 2015 by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Collins (R-ME).
“We have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable,” said Representative Dave Reichert (WA-8). “Many of our most vulnerable are children who have for one reason or another been forced to live on the streets. Too often we fail to see these kids and we leave them without opportunities to rebuild their lives. This bill will help us to fix that, and it will help us provide shelter for children in need and set them up to become successful adults.”
The House bill also extends family intervention and reunification services to Transitional Living Programs when it is safe and appropriate for the youth. Family intervention, counseling and reunification will include all individuals that a youth considers to be family, which will likely have a significant impact on youth who identify as LGBTQ. In addition, the reauthorization updates the provisions for all three of the major programs that award grants to community providers: Basic Center Programs, Transitional Living Programs (including Maternity Group Homes), and Street Outreach Programs. The national support activities and rural demonstration grants have remained an important part of how this legislation cares for homeless youth.
“This legislation will help us meet our responsibility to combat youth homelessness and ensure that homeless young people in America have a place to seek shelter and find safety,” said Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3). “When a child is homeless, they don’t just lose the security of a safe place to sleep, they miss out on opportunities for future success.”
RHYTPA adds human trafficked runaway and homeless youth to the National Study of the Prevalence Needs and Characteristics of Homeless Youth in America, which was added to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in 2008. This national study will collect much needed data about the runaway and homeless youth population in the United States and provide vital nationwide information needed to more effectively prevent the trafficking of children and provide appropriate services to survivors.
The National Network for Youth applauds Representatives Reichert and Yarmuth for their bipartisan leadership on the reauthorization of this important piece of legislation and giving voice to the vulnerable runaway and homeless youth who need help and services today.