The opportunity to leverage the national estimates brief combined with available local data to frame awareness and sustainable solutions to end youth homelessness resonated with members participating on the Discovery Session on the recently released Voices of Youth Count (VOYC) Study.
Setting the context by reviewing the five key findings of the study, Matt Morton of Chapin Hall emphasized the hidden nature and fluidity of the experiences captured through surveys and in-depth interviews of youth over the course of 12 months.
Listening to Matt’s presentation, I was startled at the rate of new incidents of youth experiencing homelessness. The study found that about half of the youth who reported experiencing homelessness over the course of the year had experienced homelessness for the first time. The study emphasized the need to expand on communities’ data collections beyond Point-in-Time and school based counts to more accurately track incidents and fluidity.
Kira Kylstra (Assistant Director of All Home in King County, Washington) and David Hewitt (Director of the Office to End Homelessness in Hennepin County, Minnesota) provided fantastic insight about the local policy and practice implications as they both lead community wide efforts to end youth homelessness.
All Home Seattle/King County Coordinated Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness
As Seattle/King County moves forward to implement their coordinated plan to end youth homelessness, Kira spoke to the VOYC findings that provide greater insight on those youth and young adults who are at risk of homelessness and how their experiences differ from those who are literal homeless. According to the national estimates, most youth first experienced homelessness as a child and with their families.
David’s comments regarding the urgent need to increase multi sector collaboration particularly with the justice system was affirmed by both the national data reporting that nearly one-third of youth experiencing homelessness had experiences with foster care and nearly half had been in juvenile detention, jail, or prison and county level data in Hennepin County. On the heels of Hennepin County’s 100 day Challenge, David and his team now plan to leverage the success of multi-sector team to advance their efforts in addressing the needs of systems involved youth.
There’s work to do, and thankfully, more data from Chapin Hall to guide the way. To keep updated on Voices of Youth Count, young people, funders, policymakers, providers, and others interested in preventing and ending youth homelessness, join here. In addition to the National Estimates report, future briefs will be released in 2018 and include trajectories into homelessness, experiences of subpopulations, dynamic between interactions with systems like child welfare and more.