Since the release of Opening Doors in June 2010, communities across the nation have come together at the federal, state, and local levels to make progress towards the Plan’s four major goals: ending chronic and Veteran homelessness by 2015, ending homelessness for families, youth and children by 2020, and setting a path to end all types of homelessness. The 10 objectives and 52 strategies laid out in the Plan inform needed action at all levels of government to bring about a day when all Americans have a safe, stable place to call home. While we have been able to make progress in the fight to end homelessness, especially for our nation’s Veterans, we recognize that more work must be done across the board to provide support and stability for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
This Amendment to Opening Doors was developed to specifically address what strategies and supports should be implemented to improve the educational outcomes for children and youth, and the steps that need to be taken to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. The Amendment provides further clarity on what needs to be done specifically for youth and children if we are to reach the goal of ending homelessness among families, children and youth by 2020.
To further supplement the strategies developed on assisting unaccompanied homeless youth, the Amendment includes the logic model and preliminary research-based intervention model to guide continuing practice and research. USICH has created a handout of these models for use when discussing the new framework for ending youth homelessness, which was confirmed by the Council in June 2012.
The Amendment document is divided into two sections. The first is Improving Educational Outcomes for Children and Youth, which amends Objectives 5 and 2. The second is Meeting the Needs of Unaccompanied Youth, which amends Objective 8.
Objective 5 is amended to now include language on educational outcomes and addressing improved educational outcomes by adding more strategies. Objective 5 now reads:
“Improve access to education and increase meaningful and sustainable employment for people experiencing or most at risk of homelessness.”
Related strategies to address improved educational outcomes include
- Improve the identification of children experiencing homelessness and support them in enrolling in school;
- Review existing program policies, procedures, and mechanisms that could increase retention in high-quality programs; andImprove education of homeless assistance providers about laws and practices that are designed to increase access to early care and education.
Objective 2 is amended to now include strategies to address increasing knowledge and awareness of successful collaborations and interventions that increase access to and retention in high-quality educational programs. The Objective language is not amended.
New strategies include:
- Access to and retention in early childhood education programs, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education; and,
- Awareness of child and youth development and strategies to support health child and youth development in housing programs.
Objective 8 is expanded to describe the steps needed to allocate resources to assist unaccompanied youth while considering the level of intervention appropriate to the circumstances. A preliminary, research-informed intervention model was developed and is included in the Amendment to guide continuing practice and research. Objective 8 now reads:
“Advancing health and housing stability for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness and youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice.”
Related strategies to address unaccompanied youth homelessness include:
- Obtain more comprehensive information on the scope of youth homelessness with improvements in counting methods, coordination and dissemination of information, and new research that expands understanding of the problem;
- Build an evidence base of the most effective interventions for different subsets of youth, which will refine the preliminary intervention model set forth in the Amendment; and,
- Improve access to emergency assistance, housing, and supports for historically underserved groups of youth, including those with histories in the child welfare system, LGBTQ youth, pregnant or parenting youth, and youth with mental health needs.