CCY advocates for and with young people in California who are disconnected from the full range of basic services and support to transition successfully into adulthood. California is home to more than nine million young people under the age of 18, and three million young adults ages 18 to 25 (often referred to as transition-age youth), totaling one-third of the state’s population. Of those, nearly 2 million of the state’s youth are considered disconnected.
Nearly, 300,000 youth up to the age of 18 and many thousands more between the ages of 18-24 experience homelessness and lack the shelter and services they need each year in our state. In addition, in the last comprehensive survey is 2010, approximately 20 of California’s 58 counties have direct services of any kind for homeless youth.1 That is just 1/3 of the counties in CA!
Our state also has the second highest percentage of unaccompanied minor homeless youth who are unsheltered at 76.3%2 in the country. California also has between 20-25% of the homeless youth in the country; yet, the state only receives 11% of available federal funding.3
In the absence of critical supports, such as education, housing, employment, mental & physical health services and family support, young people are at high risk for:
- Commercial Sexual Exploitation
- System Dependency
- Mental Illness
- Unplanned Pregnancy
- Substance Use/Abuse
- Violence & Abuse
- Poverty & Unemployment
The California Coalition for Youth believes that one of the most severe results of youth disconnection is homelessness. Once homeless, youth tend to be exposed to even more risks that can lead to further abuse and neglect that can potentially put their lives at risk. They experience trauma, violence and exploitation while living on the streets. At least 50% of homeless youth have serious mental health issues,4 but due to a lack of services, cannot get the help they need.
Short Term Goals
- Encourage the State of California to increase the level of funding dedicated to addressing the unmet needs of runaway and homeless youth. CCY is recommending that the state increase its ongoing funding commitment from $1.1 million to $25 million starting in the 2016-17 Budget to support and expand additional programs and services for runaway and homeless youth, especially in unserved areas of the state. Of these funds, $10 million should be focused on basic services to include outreach, drop-in centers and emergency shelters, coupled with supportive services. The additional $15 million would be allocated for programs to help move youth out of emergency shelters and off the streets and into transitional living programs as a pathway out of homelessness and into independent living, access to education and gainful employment.
- Encourage the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to adopt a more inclusive definition of homeless youth and families modeled on the McKinney-Vento Act definitions and to restore local decision-making to allow communities to set their own priorities.
- Encourage the State of California to maintain a balanced approach when enacting regulations that allows for innovation by homeless and disconnected youth providers in order to better respond programmatically and fiscally to the needs of runaway, homeless and disconnected youth in the state.
Long Term Goals
- Encourage the State of California and county welfare departments to address the needs of unaccompanied homeless minors, who meet the definition of abuse and neglect, and ensure that these youth can access programs a nd services in the child welfare system.
- Encourage the State of California to accurately count the number of homeless youth in the state to better advocate for the state’s fair share of federal funding for runaway and homeless youth, and to better determine where the need for additional programs and services are for runaway and homeless youth in California.
- Encourage the State of California to develop a comprehensive and collaborative statewide planning effort and policy development to address the needs of those who are homeless, especially youth.
- Encourage the State of California to allocate appropriate resources to ensure that runaway and homeless youth have the opportunity to successfully transition into independent living, access education, and gainful employment.
1 CA Homeless Youth Project, Programs Serving Homeless Youth (2011), http://bit.ly/1wDLgWq
2 US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf
3 CA Homeless Youth Project, California’s Homeless Students: A Growing Population (2014), http://bit.ly/1oWed0P 4 Illness Experiences of Homeless Youth. Ensign J., Bell M. Qual Health Res. 2004 Nov; 14(9): 1239-54