Chapin hall seeks national estimate and comprehensive understanding of homeless youth in america
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth Dierksheide.
Chicago – June 25, 2015
With headlines across the country calling attention to a growing population of homeless youth, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago is launching Voices of Youth Count, a multi-year original research and policy effort designed to understand how many unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth there are in the United States, create a clear and full picture of what it means to be young and homeless in America, and find and widely share solutions to ending youth homelessness.
Bryan Samuels, Chapin Hall’s Executive Director announced the national initiative at events linking Chapin Hall with partners across the country. “I have heard community leaders from San Francisco to Boston speaking with great concern of a rise in youth homelessness,” he said. “But, these stories mask a troubling fact. There is no accurate estimate of the number of unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth. This work will remedy that.”
“The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has spoken to the need to fill gaps in our knowledge about this highly vulnerable group, saying; ‘…we know too little about the scale and nature of youth homelessness’,” added Samuels. “Chapin Hall, in partnership with some of the nation’s most engaged philanthropic leaders on this issue, as well as with dedicated providers of youth services and determined advocates, is ready to take on that challenge.”
Through rigorous research, Voices of Youth Count will seek to establish a reliable and valid national estimate of the number of unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth and a deeper understanding of what puts them in that situation. It will provide federal, state, and local decision makers with a fuller view of the size, demographic makeup and needs of these young people.
“Our funder members are eager to understand the scale and scope of youth homelessness,” said Anne Miskey, Executive Director, Funders Together to End Homelessness in comments supporting the announcement. “We welcome this opportunity to use data-driven insights to spark meaningful change in the way we approach the issue of youth homelessness in America.”
Beginning in mid-2015 through 2017, Voices of Youth Count will engage approximately twenty-five nationally representative sites, including urban, rural and suburban communities in conducting youth counts, among other research activities. Efforts will be designed, coordinated and overseen by Chapin Hall in partnership with localities and service providers. Voices of Youth Count will also analyze existing data sets from schools, foster care systems, and human service agencies.
“Counting homeless youth is a complex endeavor, which is reflective of these young people’s lives and situations. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the size and makeup of the population is a critical step for us to develop a more effective way to help end their homelessness,” said Nan Roman, President, National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Chapin Hall’s approach brings a new level of thinking to how the field can move ahead in finding answers to these important questions in valid and reliable ways.”
Youth voice will be central to the effort. Brought forward by in-depth interviews and surveys conducted in tandem with counts, youth voices will help form a more complete picture of the services unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth use and what policies and programs are likely to improve their lives and chances for the future. Information gathered from interviews and surveys will be integrated with a rigorous examination of how well efforts already underway are working, including a review of policies, prevention efforts, and interventions.
“Every day in America, homeless youth face barriers to finding what they need to be safe and healthy,” added Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth. “With the knowledge, insight, and data that Voices of Youth Count will bring to the field, we hope to make great progress in increasing the number of young people who are able to find the help and support they need, when they need it.”
Voices of Youth Count will link its research findings to the current local, state and federal policy efforts with an eye on authorizing legislation, how programs are structured and funded, and the way in which services are delivered. Voices of Youth Count will actively share its methods, findings, and recommendations with the field.
“We are excited to see unprecedented momentum across the country to solve the problem of youth homelessness,” said Tricia Raikes, co-founder of the Seattle-based Raikes Foundation—a Voices of Youth Count Steering Committee member. “To make significant progress, we need a deeper understanding of which young people experience homelessness, why, and what communities can do to help them reach the safe, stable environments they need to thrive. Voices of Youth Count will offer the actionable insights needed to inform policies and empower communities on our journey to make youth homelessness rare, brief and one-time in this country.”
Chapin Hall Center at the University of Chicago is an independent policy research center that creates and builds knowledge to design solutions for some of the most challenging problems confronting vulnerable children, families and their communities. www.chapinhall.org