The issues adults live with have consequences for their children. The youth we serve are struggling with these consequences on top of normal adolescent development. Youth become homeless because they run away, are told to leave, or age out of the foster care system.
The transition from school to the adult world is not easy. Many parents/guardians help their children obtain the tools necessary to navigate through life successfully – a sense of belonging, competence, personal power, and their place in the world. Some are not so lucky.
Anecdotal experience shows many young/emerging adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who come from fairly well off home environments and intact families, and who even manage to get through college, find themselves still living with their parents until their mid to late 20’s.
There is a shortage of beds and resources for homeless youth across the nation. In Chicago, there are approximately 120 beds. For every youth that gets into a program, more youth are turned away due to lack of space.
Young people often become homeless when the family is dealing with issues such as:
Divorce or Separation
Substance abuse in family
Domestic violence (physical and/or sexual abuse)
Death of someone significant
Disintegration of family
Conflict with a parent's significant other
Issues around their sexual or gender orientation
Early pregnancy or teen parenting
Lack of education
Lack of employment
Depression and other mental health problems
Legal Definition of Homeless Youth
Pregnant and Parenting Youth who are coping with homelessness or unstable housing face even more complexities.
Research & Links
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
Report to Congress
2003 Reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act: Issue Brief
“Promising Strategies to End Youth Homelessness,” Department of Health and Human Services Report to Congress
“Quality of health care: the views of homeless youth,” Health Services Research, August, 2004 by Josephine Ensign
“Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities- 2002,”
U.S. Conference of Mayors’
“Wherever I Can Lay My Head: Homeless Youth on Homelessness,” Center for Impact Research, March 2005
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count 2007 Data Book Online
Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
"No Youth Alone: A Campaign to End Youth Homelessness"
“Unaccompanied Homeless Youth in Illinois"
“Youth On The Streets And On Their Own”
Child Welfare League of America: publications related to youth and child homelessness
Lakeview Action Coalition Homeless Youth Fact Sheet
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families
Family & Youth Services Bureau publications
Region 5 information (includes Chicago)
Transitional Living Programs Move Homeless Youth Closer to Independence
Aftercare: Staying in Touch With Youth After They Have Left the System
"Midwest Longitudinal Study of Homeless Adolescents, Whitbeck & Hoyt," University of Nebraska, 711 Oldfather Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0324. phone 402.472.3631. fax 402.472.6070. Ask for copy of study.
“Serving Youth Aging Out of Foster Care” by Rachel H. Sherman..
"Foster Youth Transitions to Adulthood: A Longitudinal View of Youth Leaving Care"
Child Welfare League of America
National Alliance to End Homelessness
“Web of Failure: The Relationship Between Foster Care and Homelessness”
Information about homeless and runaway youth, programs, and issue briefs.
National Clearing House on Families & Youth
National Clearing House
quick reference guide for information and resources on youth and family issues.
National Coalition for the Homeless
Youth fact sheet
Causes and Consequences of Youth Homelessness
National Network for Youth
National Runaway Switchboard
“Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics,” National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children
"Life on the Run, Life on the Streets," Child Welfare League of America
Children of the Night: Rescuing America’s Children from Prostitution
“Commercial Exploitation of Children: What do We Know and What Do We Do About It?” U.S. Department of Justice Special Report
Sexual and gender Issues
“Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the U. S.” Amnesty International
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force web site
"An Epidemic of Homelessness,”National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
"Homeless LGBT Youth and LGBT Youth in Foster Care," Safe Schools Coalition
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico”
Positive Youth Development
National Runaway Switchboard
Statistics on Runaways from Peer-reviewed Journals and Federal Studies
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Families & Children
National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth
Positive Youth Development approach
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry on Normal Adolescent Development