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July 2016Vol. 17, No. 5Ending Youth Homelessness: Lessons From Veterans Homelessness

The Family and Youth Services Bureau's National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCFY) is a free information service that aims to educate the family and youth work field about the research and effective practices that can improve the long-term social and emotional well-being of families and youth. Recently, NCFY explored how current Federal efforts to support homeless veterans could help inform efforts to support unaccompanied homeless youth.

Through a two-part interview with Matthew Doherty, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), NCFY delves into some of USICH's work with homeless veterans as part of Opening Doors, a national strategy to end homelessness. The interview also shares some strategies and lessons learned from USICH's efforts around veterans' homelessness and how they could be applied to its national effort to end youth homelessness in 2020. This may be of interest to child welfare professionals due to the connection between youth homelessness and involvement with foster care and/or child welfare.

Lessons learned include the following:

  • Embrace data: Focusing on existing data helps communities project the number of people expected to experience homelessness, and to gauge the resources needed to respond to their needs. Understanding current data can also highlight the need for improvement.
  • Define success: USICH worked to develop criteria and benchmarks tied to the goal, such as communities identifying all veterans experiencing homelessness and providing shelter immediately to any unsheltered homeless veterans who wanted it.
  • Tap into a range of resources: While veterans may have access to a range of resources and services through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, USICH will promote homelessness education among a variety of systems of care funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., child welfare system), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, schools, and others in order to meet the comprehensive needs of youth and families.

To read the interview and learn more, visit

Related Item

The March 2015 issue of Children's Bureau Express featured a spotlight section on housing. Articles in the spotlight section focused on the relationship between housing insecurity and child welfare involvement.