Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Turns 40

Photograph of a group of diverse and happy young people.

The Family and Youth Services Bureau is pleased to recognize 2014 as the 40th anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Over the decades, hundreds of thousands of young people and their families have been helped by programs funded by Runaway and Homeless Youth Act appropriations, says Bill Bentley, FYSB’s Associate Commissioner.

“Our sincerest thanks go to the many community-based organizations and local health and human services departments that have worked with us over the years,” Bentley says. “We look forward to another 40 years of working together to realize Congress’s original intent of keeping young people safe and enabling them to successfully transition to adulthood.”

Congress first passed the landmark Act in 1974, as part of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in an effort to keep runaway and truant youth out of the juvenile justice system.

“Before the Act, young people under 18 were being locked up for being runaways,” says Curtis Porter, director of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program. “The Act created a system of emergency shelters that helped minors on the run from family conflict get what they really needed—food, shelter, and the counseling required to get them back home or to another safe place.”

Today, FYSB’s Basic Center Program funds 303 emergency shelters across the country that serve more than 34,000 young people.

Over the years, the services made possible by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act have expanded. The Transitional Living and Maternity Group Home Program gives more than 3,200 older homeless youth each year the housing, education and career preparation, and life-skills training to succeed into adulthood.

And in the last year, grantees of the Street Outreach Program made contact with youth who were living on the streets or in other unstable situations more than 660,000 times to connect them to food, shelter and referrals aimed at keeping them safe and away from human traffickers.

Building on the success of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, FYSB is committed to providing leadership on two key federal initiatives now and in the years ahead:  the Opening Doors Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness and the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking.

“FYSB and our federal partners are building strong momentum toward ending youth homelessness and the commercial sexual exploitation of young people,” Bentley says. “As they have for the past four decades, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs will play a major role in our ongoing efforts to create a better future for the young people of our nation.”

Crossposted from the Family and Youth Services Bureau website.

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