The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) is committed to ensuring that opportunities for development and permanency be made available to youth who face greater odds due to abuse, neglect, exploitation, homelessness, lack of resources, community prejudice, differing abilities, barriers to learning, and other life challenges.  NN4Y provides its members with networking, education, information, and policy advocacy.

Through its members, the Network is connected to communities all over the United States and the in-the-trenches expertise of our National Youth Advisory Counsel (NYAC) Youth Advisors, Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), and our members inform and drive the Network’s policy recommendations and priorities.

The NN4Y represents public, community-based, and faith-based organizations that provide services to youth and families in the United States and territories.  Many of our members receive funding through the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.  Funds and practices from the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the McKinney-Vento Act on homelessness, and the Workforce Investment Act also assist local runaway and homeless youth program providers in leveraging funding to accomplish their mission.

With this combination of federal, state, local, and private resources, NN4Y’s organization members provide the full gamut of preventive, outreach to resources, connection to resources, and developmental supports to youth and young families in high-risk and homeless situations.

Shortcomings of Current Investments

The data available now clearly portrays that current local, state, and federal investments in homeless youth housing and services are far from meeting the need. Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) funded programs turn away homeless youth every day due to the lack of an available bed. Few RHYA grants are awarded in comparison to the applications submitted because the resources are extremely limited.  More homeless youth would be able to access safety and services in more housing and services were available.

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Priority Policy Recommendations: Moving Youth Forward to End Youth Homelessness and Serve Trafficked Youth

The federal government, in partnership with states, local communities, and philanthropy, must act with urgency to move closer to meeting the needs of all homeless youth in America.  As a priority, each stakeholders should collaborate to:

  1. Expand the Safety Net for Homeless and Human Trafficking Youth
  2. Invest in Better Data and Research
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Federal Definitions of Homeless Youth

Federal programs have different definitions of homelessness. The difference in definition between Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs and McKinney-Vento Homeless Education programs in school is not a problem or barrier to access for homeless youth to their programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act definition does create barriers to access to the housing programs they provide.

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Existing Federal Programs that Support America’s Runaway and Homeless Youth

Because youth who are at-risk of becoming homeless and/or experiencing homelessness often intersect with multiple systems, there are a myriad of funding streams that either do impact homeless youth or has the potential to.  The primary federal programs that serve homeless youth in America are Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (P.L.110-378), McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program, and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77). However, other Federal programs also impact disconnected, runaway, and homeless youth.

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