But what about the children?

written by naehblog
November 8, 2010

Okay, so I really mean what about the youth.

Today, we hosted our first in a series of webinars about youth homelessness.

Here’s the thing about youth homelessness: we know just enough to know that we hardly know anything at all.

We know a little: RHYA shows us that there are young people out there looking for help. Data from the juvenile justice and the foster care systems show us that young people are exiting those systems and ending up homeless. Research from institutions like Chapin Hall outline the relationship between youth homelessness and child welfare.

We know that there’s a problem.

But we’re grappling with pieces of the puzzle. And if we at the Alliance have learned anything at all, it’s that we must fully understand a problem in order to really get serious about solving it.

So we’re asking you guys to start with the data. On our webinar today, Barbara Poppe from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and Nan Roman, the Alliance’s own president, emphasized the importance of including youth in the 2011 community point-in-time counts. The first step to solving a problem, we’ve concluded, is to determine the scope of the problem.

As a critical observer in the field, I can testify that I’ve been hearing stories from advocates and reporters alike asking if there’s any evidence to back up anecdotal data about an increase in homeless youth and specifically about the vulnerability of those in the 18 – 25 age range. I can’t say I’ve noticed an increase – or point to any data that would validate that presumption – but I can say that the heightened increase only adds fuel to the fervor to get an accurate count.

What about you? Have you noticed an increase in youth homelessness? Does your community count homeless youth? Have you noticed increased attention to this special subpopulation? We want to hear from you!

For more information about homeless youth, check out the Alliance website. To access slides from today’s webinar and learn more about counting youth, click here.

And remember to sign up for the second webinar in the series: Including Youth in PIT Counts, Part 2: A Case Study of San Jose and Santa Clara County. This webinar will provide an in-depth case study of how one community, Santa Clara county and San Jose, CA, undertook specific efforts to include youth in its point-in-time count. It will be held on Wednesday, November 17 from 2 – 3 PM ET.