Since 2011, our goal has been to make youth homelessness a rare, brief and one-time occurrence for young people. In 2015, we expanded our efforts from King County, WA to Washington state and the nation. We see our role as a convener and catalyst. We bring together young people who have experienced homelessness, homelessness providers, community organizations and government partners to learn what’s working, share promising practices and drive more resources to youth.
Our strategy is two-pronged:
1) Prevention and early intervention: Reach at-risk young people and prevent them from ever experiencing homelessness.
2) Rapid response to crisis: If a young person does experience homelessness, ensure the community has the resources and tools to respond rapidly and effectively.
Prevention and early intervention
We know that ending youth homelessness starts with preventing homelessness from ever occurring. Our public schools, child welfare services, and juvenile justice system can and should play an important role in preventing young people from becoming homeless. These systems are ideally positioned to identify the early warning signs of young people in crisis and connect them with services that can stabilize their housing situations or home life.
- Public schools: More than 1.3 million homeless students have been identified in our public schools—on average, there are 14 students experiencing homelessness in each public school across America. With the proper support, teachers and staff can help identify students who are facing crises and connect them to the right supports, such as housing, counseling, and legal assistance.
- Child welfare: The instability of life in the child welfare system often pushes young people into homelessness. With more resources and improved coordination among youth-serving agencies, child welfare, including foster care, can play a crucial role in keeping young people from ever experiencing homelessness.
- Juvenile justice: Too many young people cycle between the juvenile justice system and homelessness. Law enforcement, probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges can break this cycle by linking young people to supportive services, such as housing, education, and employment opportunities.
Rapid response to crisis
Even one night on the streets can derail a young person's future. The faster crisis response systems can identify and match a young person with developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed services, the sooner that young person can get back on a path toward stability. We foster collaboration between a variety of stakeholders so that communities can better understand young people’s needs, align available services, and respond quickly with safe housing.
Partnerships and advocacy
Another essential aspect of our strategy is ensuring that young people who have experienced homelessness are heard and seen by policymakers. We believe that lifting up the voices of those most impacted by homelessness is essential to achieving justice and equity, as well as generating the systemic change needed to end homelessness.
We partner with public and private leaders in Washington state and across the nation to fund community action and raise awareness of the urgency of ending youth homelessness. We also support youth-led advocacy efforts to end homelessness at the local, state, and federal level.