Voices of youth count frequently asked questions
Q: Which youth exactly will Voices of Youth Count cover?
A: Unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth, meaning those not living with a parent, between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four.
Q: Which Federal definition of unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth will Voices of Youth Count use?
A: Voices of Youth Count is aware of the different ways government agencies define homeless youth and runaways. Rather than be limited by those definitions, we will take a broad approach. The aim is to understand how different definitions affect what is known about the breadth and depth of the problem. In turn, we expect this approach will point to the ways policy and practice can be strengthened.
Q: What subgroups of homeless and runaway youth will Voices of Youth Count pay attention to and include?
A: We understand that the risk of running away or being homelessness differs depending on factors such as age, whether the young person is in foster care, and sexual orientation, to name a few. We will use open-ended protocols to bring forward both the diverse characteristics and common threads of youth experiences. As findings are analyzed, Voices of Youth Count will look to provide a sense of the numbers of youth who may fall into various subgroups.
Q: Why does there need to be a new count when there is a number already out there? Haven’t communities been doing youth counts over the last few years?
A: In spite of sincere efforts from the field to gain a better understanding of the extent and size of the unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth population, a lack of consistent methodology applied across efforts has made it difficult to compare and/or combine across jurisdictions. Voices of Youth Count will use a consistent approach across sites. The result will be a more reliable national estimate.
Q: Where will Voices of Youth Count work take place?
A: Voices of Youth Count will be selecting approximately twenty-five nationally representative sites – including urban, rural and suburban areas – soon after launch. Once the sites have been selected, we will begin the process of building the local partnerships needed to carry out the counts, surveys and in-depth interviews.
Q: How will the interviews with youth that Voices of Youth Count does be different than past efforts to have youth tell their stories?
A: There has been a lot of important work done to understand what it means to runaway or be homeless. We want to build on this work by taking a common approach to youth interviews in sites across the country. By taking a common approach, we hope to learn more about the role of communities in the lives of young people who have runaway or are homeless.
Q: What policies will Voices of Youth Count be paying attention to?
A: Voices of Youth Count will conduct an extensive review, analysis, and comparison of federal, state and local policies and expenditures, including those directly related to unaccompanied homeless and runaway youth, policies aimed at supporting youth with similar characteristics and needs (i.e., foster youth, pregnant and parenting youth, youth exposed to trauma and violence) and policies that inform the varied services like housing, health and mental health.
The goal of such an interrelated investigation is to identify the existing policy levers that might be utilized to make change including the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, and the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Q: What will the literature review consist of?
A: Voices of Youth Count will review the literature of important preventative and intervention services aimed at supporting vulnerable youth populations including youth at-risk, youth who are newly homeless, and youth struggling with chronic homelessness in an effort to disseminate, and eventually, build upon, best practices for prevention and intervention related to youth homelessness.