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The speakers advocated for youth-centered, culturally responsive services and systems of care that youth can easily access. They also said programs need to use approaches that are sensitive to youths’ histories of trauma, allow youth to access services even if they are still actively engaged in substance use, and cater to the unique needs of special populations such as rural youth.
Bradley emphasized the need for different organizations, including schools, to come together and coordinate their approach to preventing and intervening in youth homelessness.
Li highlighted the need for changes in how runaway and homeless youth programs are funded. For example, she said, funders could prioritize channeling dollars to multi-agency systems of care that work together to meet youths’ needs, rather than to single programs. Funders could also provide grants with fewer restrictions or base their awards on whether programs truly do lead to outcomes such as strong relationships with a caring adult.