Stacey Violante Cote is the Director, Teen Legal Advocacy Project, Center for Children’s Advocacy and Chair, Reaching Home Campaign’s Homeless Youth Workgroup
If you have wondered why the goal to end youth homelessness is set for 2022 while our goals to end Veteran and chronic homelessness are set for 2015 and 2016 respectively, you’re in good company. Youth homelessness is an urgent problem with lots of costly outcomes. Addressing this is also a preventative measure to stem the tide of chronic homelessness. So why set the goal so far down the road? It’s because this population has been invisible for a long time. As a result, we haven’t had enough data and research to determine the way out. It wasn’t until 2012 that the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) amended the federal plan, Opening Doors, to create a framework for ending youth homelessness. And now, Connecticut has its own statewide plan – Opening Doors-CT.
The Homeless Youth Workgroup of Connecticut’s Reaching Home Campaign spent the last year in a planning process to create a plan to end youth homelessness in our state. Many of the plan’s elements have already begun. The first-ever statewide homeless youth count occurred in January 2015. In 2014, the legislature reinstated funding to begin to address the crisis-response needs of youth living on their own; a model for a pilot program to address the housing needs of youth who require permanent supportive housing was developed.
Still, other elements have not yet begun. We have lots of work ahead to collect better data and improve collaboration across agencies serving these youth.
On March 25th, the Homeless Youth Workgroup will unveil the major elements of Connecticut’s plan during an IForum entitled, “Youth Homelessness: Developing Data-Driven Priorities.” The IForum will bring in national experts including Beth Holger-Ambrose from Minnesota, who helped to develop that state’s Homeless Youth Program, as well as USICH Policy Director Jasmine Hayes to talk about where we fit into the federal landscape.
Please join us to learn, ask questions and be part of ending youth homelessness in Connecticut. The way forward is now becoming clear.
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