The Beat: Permanent Connections

February 11, 2013

National Runaway SafelineLast month, Chicago's National Runaway Switchboard became the National Runaway Safeline. For nearly 40 years, the Family and Youth Services Bureau has funded the organization to be the federally designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth.

FYSB's Acting Associate Commissioner, Debbie A. Powell, recently wrote about the name change on The Family Room, the official blog of the Administration for Children and Families. Here's what she said about the long history between the Safeline and FYSB and the importance of the national communication system:

Every year, thousands of young people--and adults...

January 31, 2013

Image of the book Girls Like Us.“Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale”
by Rachel Lloyd

In this memoir, a well-known advocate exposes the horrors of sex trafficking, and tells us what it will take to create a society that values and protects girls. NCFY read it, and we tell you why we think it’s a good read for youth workers.

Rachel Lloyd grew up in England with a depressive, alcoholic mother and her series of violent boyfriends. By 14, she had dropped out of school. Faking her age, she did factory work to keep a roof over their heads.

“The pressure to have a baby, at fourteen, already feels intense,” she writes in her memoir “Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where...

January 14, 2013

Photograph of two young people holding hands.A number of studies have shown the challenges that youth in foster care have in establishing healthy romantic relationships. Experiencing abuse and neglect can hinder their ability to connect with others. Youth in foster care also lack role models to give them a picture of what healthy interactions look like.

It stands to reason, then, that youth in foster care might benefit from formal relationship education, like that provided through the Family and Youth Services Bureau's Personal Responsibility Education Program. But when Senior Researcher Mindy Scott and her colleagues at Child Trends, a nonprofit research center in Washington, reviewed the research on programs that teach foster youth about healthy dating and romance, they...

November 19, 2012

Photograph of a rural landscape.We’ve often heard people who work with homeless youth in rural areas talk about the particular challenges their young people face. These teens travel dozens of miles to get to school, to health clinics, to social service agencies. Often, there’s no youth shelter within hundreds of miles.

There’s also a dearth of information about what providers are doing, and can do, to help. To start to fill the gap, the National Alliance to End Homelessness surveyed rural youth programs and then surveyed them again, asking about two common strategies: host homes and outreach. The results and some recommendations are described in the Alliance’s brief, “...

November 16, 2012

Photograph of a teen girl using a laptop computer.For the last few years, Eric Rice has been studying the largely positive aspects of social networking for at-risk and runaway youth. In interviews with dozens of homeless youth in the Los Angeles area, he has found that tools like cell phones and Facebook can keep runaway young people connected to their peers and family members back home. 

We know youth workers are always looking for ways to link youth to friends and families, when doing so is safe and makes sense for the young person. So we recently asked Rice, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work, to further explain the implications and scope of his findings about social media and runaway...

October 31, 2012

One of the objectives of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness is to end youth homelessness by 2020. Here at NCFY, we want to help you understand how USICH aims to do that, in collaboration with federal, state and local government, and of course with programs that work directly with homeless young people.

A big step forward came in September when USICH unveiled a new “intervention model” for working with homeless youth who are on their own, apart from their families. Part of the 2012 amendment (PDF,2.17MB)  to the Opening Doors strategic plan to end homelessness, the model is meant to harness what we know about homeless youth from research. What makes them more or less likely to succeed in school and life or to have problems? The model will enable youth...

September 21, 2012

Photograph of a law book, a gavel, and a life preserver.Young people who show up at the doors of youth-serving agencies face a host of problems. They often need housing, medical and mental health care, help staying in school—all issues that can have a legal component. Which means that sometimes, the best ally a youth worker could have in untangling thorny issues for their clients is a lawyer. Even better, a pro-bono lawyer.

Recently, NCFY spoke to Cheryl Nolan of the Legal Services Corporation, a congressionally supported organization that funds civil legal services for low-income Americans. She explained the ways legal aid programs can help youth get out of tricky situations.

NCFY: What are some typical civil legal problems that young people face? And what can...

September 18, 2012

Photograph of a multigenerational familyAn average family in the United States is about half as strong as it has the potential to be. That’s the conclusion of a new study of family assets, or strengths, conducted by the nonprofit research and education group The Search Institute.

The organization’s researchers talked to one 10- to 15-year-old and one parenting adult in more than 1,500 families. The goal was to quantify how families are doing in five areas:  nurturing relationships, establishing routines, maintaining expectations, adapting to challenges and connecting to community.

Principal investigator Amy Syvertsen and her team found that some families have a lot of strengths, some...

September 12, 2012

Photograph of a young person leaving a house and carrying a backpack.Sixteen-year-old “Jessica” of Brainerd, MN, had already been kicked out of her mother’s house and her boyfriend’s mother’s house when she got to the host home program run by Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, which places youth who need emergency shelter with local families. Jessica didn't stay with her host family for long, though. When she got back together with her boyfriend, she left. 

Of the thousands of runaway and homeless youth who take shelter in programs like LSS of Minnesota, a significant number leave within the first days or weeks, frustrated by program rules or, like Jessica, committed to being with a partner. Kathy Sauve, youth services program manager at LSS of...

August 09, 2012

Photograph of a teen boy carrying a duffel bag and school books.With school back in session soon, this could come in handy: A new brief from the National Center for Homeless Education aims to help educators and service providers understand the federally funded education programs for migrant and homeless youth, so that young people eligible for both types of services are able to get assistance.

The brief includes short explanations of the Migrant Education Program and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, both authorized by sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You'll also find a list of terms that the two programs use to refer to young people, the different...

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