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Based on years of work with runaway and homeless youth and the best emerging evidence about what youth need to succeed, the Family and Youth Services Bureau believes the most crucial outcomes for runaway and homeless youth include: well-being, permanent connections, safety and self-sufficiency.
In this issue of The Exchange, we’ll focus on ways to achieve and improve well-being for runaway and homeless youth. We talk to one organization that breaks down barriers to get youth off the street and into a safe shelter—even for one night—as a first step in improving well-being. We also hear first-hand how a one-stop-shop health clinic for homeless youth helps young people stay connected and take care of their physical and mental health. And we look at how making art can contribute to young people’s overall sense of well-being.
Defining Outcomes for Runaway and Homeless Youth
We define well-being as: Youth enjoy general good health and have access to treatment and care when they need it. Beyond physical health, they have satisfactory life circumstances such as stable living arrangements, enriching educational experiences, job satisfaction, mental health stability and social connectedness.
We define permanent connections as: Youth have a stable living situation that they do not fear losing or having to leave. They have solid, healthy relationships and connections with family (whether biological or not), friends, mentors and other significant people to whom they can turn in good times and bad.
We define safety as: Youth are able to live free from violence, abuse, neglect, harassment, stalking, exploitation and fear. This sense of safety is physical, emotional and mental. Youth feel supported and protected from harm in relationships and in social settings.
We define self-sufficiency as: Youth have the skills, or are learning the skills, to live independently, support and take care of themselves, get and stay employed, manage their finances, further their education, support and take care of a family (now or in the future), contribute to their communities and plan for the future.