For nearly four decades, the federal government has been funding services for homeless youth by providing grants to community- and faith-based organizations as well as to local public and tribal agencies that operate emergency shelters, conduct street outreach, and operate transitional living programs. These programs serve a youth population that is diverse with respect to the reasons they are homeless, the types of assistance they need, and the resources they have to draw upon. Although research on homeless youth has contributed to our knowledge about the characteristics of this population, serving homeless youth continues to be a challenge. We do not have reliable information about the number of youth experiencing homelessness and we have limited knowledge about the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving their outcomes.
In this forum, panelists discuss the needs of youth experiencing homelessness, how service providers are addressing those needs, and the challenges associated with serving homeless youth. They also share their thoughts about the federal programs that fund services for homeless youth and how those programs could be improved and augmented.