RUNAWAY + HOMELESS YOUTH ACT (RHYA) 

Runaway + Homeless Youth (RHY) providers are uniquely able to serve youth and young adults at risk of experiencing homelessness and/or human trafficking. As community-based organizations, they adapt to deliver services based on local needs, including rural and suburban settings (where homelessness looks different). 

$300 million administered as competitive grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program.  Funding three key pillars of intervention for at-risk youth or are experiencing homelessness: Street Outreach Program, Basic Center Program, and Transitional Living Program (including Maternity Group Homes).

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Report Language Requests to Improve the Administration of the Runaway + Homeless Youth Act Program

Continue Previous Report Language: 

  • The Committee supports grantees’ ability to provide prevention services, such as counseling and case management, regardless of enrollment in residential services. 
  • The program is encouraged to notify applicants if grant applications were successful at least 30 days before the grant begins or no less than 30 days before an existing grant is set to end.
  • The Committee strongly urges the program to ensure that service delivery and staff training comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth, as well as language appropriate, gender-appropriate (interventions that are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and transgender youth and consistent with the gender identity of participating youth), and culturally sensitive and respectful of the complex social identities of youth (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs). The Committee strongly believes that no runaway youth or homeless youth should be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in whole or in part under the Runaway + Homeless Youth Act, based on any of the conditions outlined in this paragraph.

New Report Language Is Needed

There are two other issues that COVID-19 has made more prominent that we hope you can resolve using report language: 

ISSUE 1) Runaway + Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) providers serve the young people who need their services and provide services to meet each young person’s unique needs. 

Young people who experience homelessness come to RHYA programs on their own. These young people cross multiple public-serving systems. Siloed funding stream makes it challenging for providers to serve all youth in need of runaway and homeless youth (RHY) services. 

For example, providers will bring a young person into their services as an RHY and then find out after a few days or weeks that they are Child Welfare (CW) or Juvenile Justice (JJ) involved. This creates a challenge for providers who then have to shift how they fund what services/housing they provide to the young person based on the youth’s current system involvement. 

Another layer of challenge is that some RHYA providers are told by their grants managers that they are NOT allowed to serve JJ or CW-involved youth with any RHYA grant funding, while the data shows that most of the youth entering the program are multi-system involved. This makes it very challenging to serve all youth in need of RHY services.

PROPOSED REPORT LANGUAGE: The Committee strongly encourages programs to have the ability to serve youth involved in other systems (such as child welfare and juvenile justice) that are not currently housed by that system.

ISSUE 2) RHYA grant managers have been telling providers that they cannot house youth funded with different funding streams within the program facility funded by RHYA. There is no reason in practice as to why providers should be prohibited from braiding funding to provide comprehensive services. 

Further, RHYA providers can’t pay for all that they are required to with the small ($200,000 per year) grant award that RHYA provides. Blending funding streams is the only way providers can provide the scope and scale of services required to meet the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. Further, as mentioned above, RHY providers often don’t figure out “who” the young people are served by until days or weeks after they are in their care. They learn after program admission that the young person is CW and/or JJ involved. Then they have to change who they are billing the bed too.

PROPOSED REPORT LANGUAGE: The Committee strongly encourages programs to have the ability to serve youth funded by systems of care other than the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to be housed within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funded program.

MCKINNEY-VENTO EDUCATION FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH (EHCY) 

$300 million administered as a formula grant program by the U.S. Department of Education, EHCY removes barriers to enrollment, attendance, and opportunity for the success of students experiencing homelessness.

EHCY program funds are used to ensure that all school districts designate a homeless liaison, proactively identify homeless children and youth, and provide transportation to stabilize homeless students’ educational experiences, school supplies, and service referrals. 

Public schools identified 1.5 million homeless children and youth in the 2017-2018 school year–an 11% increase over the previous year. Yet, currently, less than 1 in 4 school districts receive direct support through the EHCY program.