Ending Youth Homelessness Before It Begins: Prevention and Early Intervention Services for Older Ado


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Solutions Brief | August 3, 2009

Files: PDF | 203 KB | 8 pages

Family conflict and abuse are consistently identified by unaccompanied homeless youth as the primary reasons for their homelessness. A system aimed at ending youth homelessness must include prevention and early intervention services that address underlying abuse and family dysfunction and achieve family reunification. Within this framework, prevention services are those that improve family functioning and prevent the abuse and conflict that lead to runaway and throwaway scenarios. Early intervention services are programs designed to respond to the early stages of a youth’s homelessness with re-housing through family reunification, guardianship, or placement in youth housing programs.

This issue brief identifies proven interventions from the fields of child welfare, community mental health, and juvenile justice, and it promotes their use as a model for youth homelessness prevention and early intervention. It is directed at community planners and youth advocates, who should view these services as critical components of a service and housing spectrum that can end youth homelessness.

Recognizing the need for crisis intervention and prevention activities, the National Alliance to End Homelessness encourages community planners and youth services agencies to develop and implement a service spectrum with the following components:

  • Street and community-based outreach to link youth with appropriate services;
  • Prevention and early intervention services geared toward family preservation;
  • Crisis emergency shelters with case managers seeking family reunification, and;
  • Youth housing with positive youth development services.
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Other issues covered in this brief include:
Homeless Youth Statistics, Demographics
Promising Prevention and Early Intervention Practices
Determining the Role of Child Welfare Systems in Prevention and Early Intervention
Beyond Reunification