Children and Youth

The intersection between domestic and sexual violence, LGBTQ oppression, and youth homelessness is marked - and concerns for their children are on top of the list for survivors. This section includes materials focused on children and youth and how to better understand and meet their needs.

= web resource    = downloadable file

Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile

Office of Early Childhood Development
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This 50-state profile project plus the District of Columbia, excluding territories, migrant and tribal information provides a snapshot of early childhood data available for children who are experiencing homelessness in each state. The Office of Early Childhood Development hopes these profiles will provide information for local, statewide and federal conversations and planning toward the goal of ending family homelessness by 2020.

Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness

Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This promising practice resource focuses on the way Head Start and Early Head Start grantees are effectively using partnerships to serve homeless children and how other service providers can build relationships with their local Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Evidence from partnerships around the country has shown that these reciprocal relationships help foster an environment of healthy development for young children experiencing homelessness and help move families out of homelessness.

Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness: Ensuring Housing & Educational Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence & their Children

Michael Santos
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

A comprehensive presentation that includes information about housing protections for survivors as well as protections for children and youth. Provides guidance toward best practices with these populations.

Expanding Early Care and Education for Homeless Children

Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Several federal policies and programs are in place to strengthen the ability of early care and education (ECE) providers to serve young children experiencing homelessness. This website links to resources that will assist providers in ensuring that these young children are prioritized for services that support their learning and development.

Access to Early Childhood Development Services for Homeless Families with Young Children: An Exploratory Project

Tanya de Sousa

This policy brief summarizes selected literature on homeless families with children who are less than five years old, and incorporates findings from a project prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on the challenges facing families with young children who are temporarily staying with others or in motels/hotels. The aim of this policy brief is to examine the following questions from the project: (1) What are families’ current living arrangements, and do they have alternative plans for shelter if they cannot stay at their current temporary location and are unable to receive the services of a shelter? (2) What conditions are homeless families and children exposed to when they cannot or do not access the services of a shelter? (3) To what extent are families knowledgeable about the federally sponsored early childhood support services available to them?

Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters

Office of Early Childhood Development
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Family shelters provide essential services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers during a difficult time in their lives. As you work to connect families to permanent housing, you can ensure that your shelter environment assists the physical, socio-emotional, and intellectual development of children ages 0-5 to support these children through their experience of homelessness. Creating this safe, developmentally appropriate environment will assure that the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in your shelter have the best possible start to a bright future, as they exit homelessness into permanent housing. The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters is specifically designed to help shelter staff members create shelter environments that are safe and developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. In this tool, you will find recommendations and information on how your shelter environment, programming, policies, and staff can support early childhood safety and development.

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! A Housing and Shelter Provider’s Guide to Developmental and Behavioral Screening

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Education

As shelter and housing assistance providers help vulnerable children, youth and families exit homelessness and partner with these families as they work to obtain permanent housing, it's important to talk to families about their child’s development. If developmental concerns are caught early, providers can help ensure that children are linked to the appropriate services and receive the extra support they may need. Partnering with families and specialists to learn the signs and act early will assure that children have the best possible start to a bright future. This Developmental and Behavioral Screening Guide has been specifically designed for shelter and housing assistance providers. In this guide, you will find information on how to engage clients with children under age 5 in conversations regarding the developmental and behavioral health of their children, and how to facilitate referrals for further screening and evaluation when required.

Resources for Young Parents & Children Experiencing Homelessness

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Young parents and their children make up a significant portion of families experiencing homelessness. Given the importance, magnitude, and vulnerability of young parents and their children experiencing homelessness, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) developed a searchable list of resources to provide service providers and policy makers with information about ways to promote healthy development and wellbeing for this population.

A Long Journey Home: A Guide for Creating Trauma–Informed Services for Mothers and Children Experiencing Homelessness

Laura Prescott, et al.

The Long Journey Home draws on existing guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to create trauma-informed environments and implement trauma-informed mental health, substance abuse, and other support services for women and children who are homeless. The authors start with a brief overview of family homelessness, why shelter providers should become trauma-informed, and how to create an organizational philosophy that is trauma-informed. They then discuss specific actions that organizations can take to create a trauma-informed environment, policies and procedures, and services and supports.

Homeless, Runaway & Throwaway Youth: Sexual Victimization and the Consequences of Life on the Streets

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

This edition of WCSAP's Research and Advocacy Digest is devoted to homeless and runaway youth. Topics include their exposure to violence while living on the streets, sexual victimization, antecedents to running away from home, challenges faced by LGBTQ homeless youth, and resilience.

Linking the Roads: Working with Youth Who Experience Homelessness & Sexual Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

This guide focuses on adapting advocacy skills to help young people who experience homelessness and sexual violence build resiliency and lessen their traumas. It has three aims: (a) to provide an overview for the intersections between identity, trauma experiences, and resiliency among youth who are homeless; (b) to highlight core skills and techniques for advocates; and (c) to discuss how to tailor these skills in order to improve services for youth who identify as LGBTQ.

Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Who Are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless

Laura Durso
Gary Gates

This report by the The Palette Fund, True Colors Fund, and the Williams Institute presents data from The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Homeless Youth Provider Survey, a web-based survey conducted from October 2011 through March 2012. The survey was designed to assess the experiences of homeless youth organizations in providing services to LGBT youth. It also assessed the prevalence of LGBT youth within the homeless populations being served by these organizations. Overall, respondents indicated that nearly seven in ten (68%) of their LGBT homeless clients have experienced family rejection and more than half of clients (54%) had experienced abuse in their family.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness

Nicholas Ray
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Between 3 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual, yet research suggests that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This reality prompted the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (the Task Force), in collaboration with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), to produce this publication. Through a comprehensive review of the available academic research and professional literature, the question as to why so many LGBT youth are becoming and remaining homeless is addressed. This paper also reports on the harassment and violence that many of these youth experience in the shelter system and summarizes research on critical problems affecting them, including mental health issues, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. The federal government’s response to youth homelessness is analyzed, including the specific impact on LGBT homeless youth of increased federal funding for faith-based service providers. Five social service agencies detail model programs designed to improve service delivery to LGBT homeless youth.

Review of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative Planning Phase

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This document reports the planning phase-related findings and recommendations of HUD’s LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative (“initiative”). The findings illustrate that, while challenging, community-wide planning to address LGBTQ youth homelessness is possible with buy-in, resources, and a collective willingness to invest time in a planning process. The recommendations are intended to inform replication of similar LGBTQ youth homelessness prevention planning in communities nationwide.

Adaptation Guidelines for Serving Latino Children and Families Affected by Trauma

Workgroup on Adapting Latino Services, Chadwick Center for Children and Families

In an effort to improve services for Latino/Hispanic children and families who have experienced trauma, the Chadwick Center for Children and Families in San Diego, California, has coordinated a national effort to create Adaptation Guidelines for Serving Latino Children and Families Affected by Trauma as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Prioritizing Homeless Children and Their Families

New Destiny Housing, Enterprise and the Citizens Committee on Children of NYC

As a response to research on the impact of homelessness on children, Citizens’ Committee for Children (CCC), Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), and New Destiny Housing (New Destiny) convened the Family Homelessness Task Force (FHTF), a group of stakeholders from over 40 organizations with expertise in housing, homelessness, and child well-being. FHTF came together to call more attention to the needs of homeless children and their families and to develop and advance recommendations to prevent and end family homelessness, while ensuring the well-being of families living in shelter. This report provides recommendations from FHTF.

Youth of Color Needs Assessment

Northwest Network

The Youth of Color Needs Assessment examines the overrepresentation of youth of color among homeless and unstably housed young people in King County, WA. In collaboration with the King County Comprehensive Plan to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness, this qualitative research project used a participatory, community-based approach to conduct focus groups with homeless youth of color (13-24) across the county. The Needs Assessment lifted and centered youth of color voices to clarify their unique experiences, strengths, and needs. The report highlights opportunities and barriers for the county’s ongoing efforts to address homelessness among youth of color. Based on these findings, the report provides recommendations for stakeholders throughout the region to strengthen available resources and continue building capacity to address and prevent disproportionate rates of homelessness for youth of color in King County.