Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Unaccompanied homeless youth are youth who are not in the care of a parent or guardian and who lack safe, stable housing. Their numbers are growing and their needs go largely unmet. MA Appleseed co-wrote a policy brief entitled, "Unaccompanied, Unidentified and Uncounted: Developing Strategies to Meet the Needs of America's Homeless Youth," which examines their plight. The brief suggests recommendations meant to spur advocacy, further research and ultimately meaningful improvement to the lives of these children. The brief forms the basis of MA Appleseed's youth homelessness policy agenda, much of which we have achieved through our work on the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Youth.
MA Appleseed is an active member of the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth which was signed into law on July 8, 2012 as Outside Section 208 of the FY2013 Budget. The Special Commission identifies and addresses the many issues and barriers affecting unaccompanied homeless youth and recommends positive policy changes and appropriate interventions. The Special Commission is tasked with examining many of the issues raised in MA Appleseed's policy brief, such as barriers related to mandated reporting requirements and the inability to count this mobile and invisible population of youth.
The Commission reported its preliminary findings and initial recommendations in June 2013. The Commission adopted a broad and inclusive definition of unaccompanied youth homelessness. On January 6, 2015, the definition was enacted into law. Click here to download the Commission's initial report.
MA Appleseed also advocates for state legislation to fund programs which provide a continuum of housing and support services for unaccompanied homeless youth. Appropriate housing and support services are critical because they serve as a platform from which unaccompanied homeless youth can stabilize and improve their education and health outcomes.