Sunday, May 20, 2018

Time for ACTION to end the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline

Youth who age out of foster care face many challenges during our transition to young adulthood – but our greatest challenges are related to housing. When you don’t know where you are going to sleep tonight, this makes it harder to succeed when it comes higher education and employment.

The Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness was our nation’s first-ever comprehensive federal plan to prevent and end homelessness. It was presented to Congress on June 22, 2010.

The idea behind it was that change would take place in the following order:
1.) End chronic homelessness by 2015
2.) End Veterans homelessness by 2015
3.) End homelessness among families, children and youth by 2020
4.) Set a path to ending all types of homelessness by 2020

It's strange that, from the very beginning, the mission of ending youth homelessness was ranked so low a priority on the timeline.  Why and how could ending chronic homelessness precede ending homelessness for youth?. 

If you look at homelessness as an overflowing bathtub – why not try to turn off the faucet first?   Our young people are Ready to Launch into adulthood.  If we don't help them now, they are likely to become chronically homeless later.

Obviously, 2015 has passed, and chronic homelessness has not been alleviated. 

They have since separated out:
  • Ending homelessness for unaccompanied youth under 25  
  • Ending homelessness among families with children
So, what's their plan to end homelessness for unaccompanied youth under 25 by 2020?

Click to enlarge

It's a data strategy, rather than an action strategy. Their plan is highly based on point-in-time counts, numbers and data -- which, when it comes to youth aging out of foster care, they already have.

Chapin Hall research has demonstrate that one in five foster care alumni report being homeless for some period of time after emancipating from foster care. Without investment, the cycle will continue: 1 in 4 homeless adults is a former foster child.

Likewise when it comes to transitional youth, they also have the data.

If the below diagram was their preliminary vision back in 2010, then how has it evolved since then?  And how involved have homeless youth and young adults been in shaping that plan?

Click to enlarge.


12 years later...

Sweet surprise at my foster parent training on Friday - from a young person in foster care that I met and gave books to back in 2006. He still has the books.