Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
Homelessness and Runaway
Homelessness is a major social concern in the United States, and youth may be the age group most at risk of becoming homeless.1 The number of youth who have experienced homelessness varies depending on the age range, timeframe, and definition used, but sources estimate that between 500,000 and 2.8 million youth experience homelessness within the United States each year.2
Youth run away or experience homelessness for a range of reasons, but involvement in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and severe family conflict have all been found to be associated with experiencing homelessness. These youth are vulnerable to a range of negative experiences including exploitation and victimization. Runaway youth and youth affected by homelessness have high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system, are more likely to engage in substance use and delinquent behavior, be teenage parents, drop out of school, suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, and meet the criteria for mental illness.3 Experiences of unaccompanied youth affected by homelessness are different from those who experience homelessness with their families. While negative occurrences persist for youth experiencing homelessness with their families, their experiences may not vary drastically from youth living in poverty.4 Studies have also found distinct variability in outcomes among youth experiencing homelessness, suggesting that youth experience homelessness differently.5
Providing timely and direct interventions to youth experiencing homelessness and runaway youth is important to protect them from the risks of living on the streets and to support positive youth development6, yet despite the risks and needs of these youth, few appear to know of, and access, support services.7 Even more critical is addressing the family/parental needs to prevent youth and/or their families from experiencing homelessness and addressing their behavioral health needs through comprehensive methods that involve both youth and their families.
Two of the Youth Engaged 4 Change editorial board members, Akshay and Garrett, sat down to discuss housing insecurity. Akshay offers important information about the housing crisis and explains how housing insecurity can impact other aspects of your life. Garrett provides a first-hand account of what it’s like to experience housing insecurity and the affects it has had on his life. Watch the video below to learn more about housing insecurity created by young people for young people:
1 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
2 Cooper, 2006
3 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010; Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
4 Samuels, Shinn, & Buckner, 2010
5 Huntington, Buckner, & Bassuk, 2008
6 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010
7 Pergamit & Ernst, 2010
Other Resources on this Topic
Tools & Guides
Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people
Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.
Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.
Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).
On any given night in 2019, almost 600,000 people nationwide had no regular place to sleep at night.
HEAR YOUNG PEOPLE DISCUSS HOW HOUSING INSECURITY AFFECTS THEIR LIVES