National Runaway Prevention Month: System-Involved Youth

A young person sitting on the sidewalk.

A recent study of federally funded street outreach programs by the Family and Youth Services Bureau found a majority of homeless youth were at one time involved with the foster care or juvenile justice systems. Participants said they had spent time in jail, a foster or group home, an in-patient mental health, or substance abuse facility.

For the third week of National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM), NCFY joins the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) in highlighting the prevalence of homelessness among system-involved youth.

A longitudinal study of runaway youth found 30 percent of respondents who had been in foster care as an adolescent had also run away from home, compared to 8.1 percent of youth who had no foster care history. Youth aging out of foster care are especially vulnerable to homelessness, and youth who were involved in the foster care system tend to remain homeless for longer periods of time.

Jasmine Hayes, deputy director at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Beth Holger-Ambrose, executive director at The Link in Minneapolis, recently shared tips for working with system-involved youth.

  1. Coordinate and have patience.
  2. Let youth drive the process.
  3. Get creative about family and permanency.

This year’s NRPM theme is “Ending Youth Homelessness: Friends Helping Friends” to emphasize the importance of collaboration in helping at-risk youth. Taking into account the multiple systems these youth interact with and helping them establish a transition plan can help ensure their success.

Visit FYSB’s youth homelessness website to learn more about what homeless youth need and what you can do to help. Also, check back for more runaway prevention topics and resources throughout the month.

Week 1: Homeless Youth and Abuse

Week 2: Trafficking

Week 4: LGBTQ Youth

More on System-Involved Youth

Tips for Working With Youth Who Have Had Contact With Multiple Systems

Limiting Court Involvement Among Runaway Youth

What is Being Done to Prevent Youth in Foster Care From Running Away?

What Makes Youth in Foster Care More Likely to Run Away?

Toolkit Helps Youth Craft Transition Plans for Exiting Foster Care

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