National Homeless Youth Awareness Month (November 2017)


As many as 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness (The National Center on Family Homelessness). Along with losing their home, community, friends, and routines as well as their sense of stability and safety, many homeless youth are also victims of trauma. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a vulnerability to being trafficked.

In support of National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is providing resources to help communities, families, educators, mental health and child welfare professionals, and policy makers and advocates better understand and deal with homeless youth.

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Featured NCTSN Resources

Complex Trauma: Facts for Service Providers Working with Homeless Youth and Young Adults (2014) (PDF)
Offers information on how to support teens and young adults who are homeless and may have experienced multiple traumas.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Shelter Staff Working with Homeless Children and Families (2014) (PDF)
Guides shelter staff in how best to support the homeless children and families with whom they work.

Culture and Trauma Brief: Trauma Among Homeless Youth (2007) (PDF)
Discusses the challenges that traumatized youth face when living on the street and offers suggestions for service providers who want to engage these young people.

Culture and Trauma Speaker Series: Working with Homeless & Runaway Youth (2007)
In this webinar Arlene Schneir and Daniel Ballin provide statistics on the number and characteristics of homeless youth in the US, how to engage runaway and homeless youth in services, and identify the key treatment implications for this highly traumatized population.

Homeless Youth Online Course (2015)
The Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership, a consortium of agencies affiliated with the NCTSN, has developed a series of on-line training courses designed for direct care staff working with homeless youth, including staff working in drop-in centers, emergency shelters, transitional living programs, and independent living programs. This 11-module course covers a range of topics including adolescent development, adolescent risk behaviors, LGBTQ youth, HIV testing, legal and ethical issues, resiliency, and trauma among homeless and runaway youth.

Psychological First Aid for Families Experiencing Homelessness (2009) (PDF)
Guidelines for shelter providers on how to help families in crisis (e.g., homelessness, trauma) feel safe and connect to services—the first step to long-term stability.

Psychological First Aid for Youth Experiencing Homelessness (2009) (PDF)
A manual that provides a framework and an intervention model for direct-care staff working in drop-in centers, emergency and transitional shelters, and group homes so that they can better understand and address the needs of homeless youth who are often survivors of trauma. Developed by the agencies of the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership.

What is Complex Trauma: A Resource Guide for Youth and Those who Care About Them (2017) (PDF)
This Guide was developed for youth who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, Complex Trauma. Older youth, adolescents, and young adults can explore the information in this Guide on their own to help make sense of their experiences and understand themselves better. Clinicians, caregivers, and other adults can also use the Guide to have conversations with youth about what Complex Trauma is, how it can impact them, coping strategies that can help and those that can cause problems, and strategies for making things better.

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For Communities

Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership
A partnership of youth-serving agencies that prevent and reduce homelessness among youth and young adults through direct service, research policy development, training, and capacity building.

  • Resources Page (PDF) (PPT)
    Information on intimate partner abuse prevention, needs assessments, and trauma in homeless and runaway youth.

National Alliance to End Homelessness
Helps prevent and end homelessness in the US through improving policy, building capacity, and educating opinion leaders.

  • Community Plans
    Provides details of plans (by communities, regions, and states) to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness around the country.
  • The Ten Essentials: What Your Community Needs To Do To End Youth Homelessness  (PDF)
    A checklist that helps communities identify "the minimum requirements for an effective permanent solution to prevent and end youth homelessness . . . draws from over twenty years of research and experience with communities around the country."

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)

A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) program that provides services to "people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occuring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless." Services include community-based outreach; support services including mental health, substance abuse, case management; and some housing services.

StandUp For Kids
The organization's volunteers "go to the streets in order to find, stabilize and otherwise help homeless and street kids improve their lives." Other projects include programs in schools and via the Internet dealing with deterring homelessness and providing resources.

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For Families

National Center for Homeless Education at the SERVE Center
The technical assistance and information center of the U.S. Department of Education that deals with homeless education.

National Network for Youth (nn4y)
Helps runaway, homeless, and other disconnected youth. Programs include street-based services; emergency shelter and transitional living programs; counseling; and social, health, educational, and job-related services to more than 2.5 million youth annually. 

  • Need Support or Services
    Includes information on the nn4y 24-hour crisis line, a link to a database of more than 10,000 youth and family agencies providing countless options for callers to access a myriad of services, such as counseling, shelter services, alcohol/drug treatment and child protective services, and a message center for youth who want to contact their families.

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For Educators

National Coalition for the Homeless
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission: To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.

       Fact Sheets on Homelessness
       Age-appropriate information that addresses causes and solutions to homelessness and offers ways for students
       to become a part of the solution.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
A national grassroots membership association serving "as the voice and the social conscience for the education of children and youth in homeless situations. It connects educators, parents, advocates, researchers, and service providers to ensure school enrollment and attendance, and overall success for children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by the lack of safe, permanent, and adequate housing."

National Center for Homeless Education at the SERVE Center
The technical assistance and information center of the U.S. Department of Education that deals with homeless education.

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For Mental Health and Child Welfare Professionals

American Institutes for Research
An independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving people's lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged and most vulnerable populations. AIR is committed to understanding and addressing the unique needs of children, youth, and adults experiencing homelessness by researching what works, developing tools and resources, and providing training and technical assistance to support data-driven, trauma-informed programming.

Bright Horizons Foundation  for Children
The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is a nonprofit organization focused on brightening the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and other crises.

The Family and Youth Services Bureau
The Family and Youth Services Bureau and its National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth work to end youth homelessness, teen pregnancy, and family violence.

Homelessness Resource Center
A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) program that is “an interactive community of providers, consumers, policymakers, researchers, and public agencies at federal, state, and local levels” . . . that seeks “ to improve the lives of people affected by homelessness who have mental health conditions, substance use issues, and histories of trauma.” Offers “state-of-the art knowledge and promising practices to prevent and end homelessness through training and technical assistance, publications and materials, on-line learning opportunities, and networking and collaboration.”

National Coalition for the Homeless
A “national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to . . . ending homelessness.” Focuses on public education, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing in the areas of housing justice, economic justice, health care justice, and civil rights.

  • Directories
    A searchable database of homeless directories; links to PDFs of a Directory of National Organizations, a Directory of National, Statewide and Local Homeless Advocacy Organizations, and a Directory of Local Homeless Service Organizations; a link to a website from Helping the NEEDY to access a directory of homeless shelters and social service organizations; and a link to, a state-by-state listing of homeless shelters, supportive housing, halfway housing, transitional housing, and day shelters.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Uses grassroots organizing to increase the effectiveness of local LGBT activism nationwide in rural areas, small towns, and cities. Trains activists, strengthens the infrastructure of local and state allies, and organizes broad-based campaigns to foster public support for full equality of LGBT people.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center
Provides trainings, webinars, toolkits, and tip sheets to assist professionals in improving their services for and building their capacity to effectively serve runaway and homeless youth.

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For Policy Makers and Advocates

Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness
Focuses on “action-oriented research of family homelessness to . . . inform policy makers at all levels of government and colleagues in the research and advocacy community . . . enhance public policy on serving homeless families, and . . . raise public awareness of homelessness through publications and other materials for schools and communities.”

National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH)
Helps prevent and end homelessness in the US through improving policy, building capacity, and educating opinion leaders.

  •  Policy Section
    This section is designed to share information about key legislation that creates, modifies, or funds federal programs impacting people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Unites States Interagency Council on Homelessness
"Coordinate the federal response to homelessness and to create a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation while maximizing the effectiveness of the Federal Government in contributing to the end of homelessness."

  •  Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (amendment)
    This update provides the latest data on the number of people experiencing homelessness, an overview of the progress USICH and its partner agencies have made toward the goals set forth in Opening Doors, and information on USICH and member agencies’ activities and accomplishments in the third year of implementation since the release of Opening Doors in June 2010.

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