Heather Mosher, PhD, Research Associate, Institute for Community Research
Youth voice is sometimes missing from the discussion around how to end youth homelessness in our state. To address this, several partners in the Youth Homelessness Workgroup came together and, with funding from the Melville Charitable Trust, we are creating the Youth Action Hub as part of the Opening Doors for Youth action plan. The group working on the project includes the Center for Children's Advocacy, Institute for Community Research, Partnership for Strong Communities, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and other partners in the RHY Workgroup.
So what exactly is the Youth Action Hub? The Youth Action Hub is designed as a center of research and advocacy staffed and led by youth/young adults to contribute youth voice to current research and policy advocacy around youth homelessness in Connecticut. Ten youth/young adults are being trained as action researchers in the Hub. These young people are between the ages of 16-24 from the greater Hartford region who have had personal experience with housing instability and have a desire to carry out research and advocacy to improve access to information and resources for youth.
I am a community-based researcher from the Institute for Community Research (ICR), a 501c3 nonprofit organization located in Hartford and founded in 1987. We help communities and organized groups advocate for community change through collaborative action research. ICR works with diverse groups of youth from around the state to conduct research and advocacy to address important social issues facing youth. Another ICR community researcher, Kristin Burke, and I are working closely with the Youth Action Hub using ICR’s evidence-based Youth Participatory Action Research training curriculum to train and mentor youth to serve as researchers, advocates and partners in a statewide effort. The Youth Action Hub works in partnership with a statewide coalition of youth-serving organizations and institutions working to end youth homelessness.
The team in the Youth Action Hub will conduct original research (focus groups with youth, online surveys) to inform the design of a youth-friendly information and referral system for youth in Connecticut to access a wide array of resources, such as housing, mental health/health, food, youth centers, and so on. Youth involvement in the design of the information and referral system is critical for creating an effective and accessible system for youth. The Hub will also advocate with administrative agencies and legislators regarding reforms designed to implement the state Opening Doors for Youth Action Plan.
These young people are an amazing resource, and they have the desire and the experience to help shape solutions to end youth homelessness in Connecticut. I am excited to see their contributions over the next year.
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