• June 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 5

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Enhancing Permanent Connections

A four-part series in the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth (NCFY) newsletter, The Exchange, focuses on improving outcomes for homeless and runaway youth. The issues feature a variety of programs that help achieve and enhance well-being, permanent connections, safety, and self-sufficiency for this vulnerable population.

The first issue in the series, "Focusing on Outcomes for Youth: Well-Being," provides examples of what some organizations are doing to improve the well-being of the homeless and runaway youth in their communities. The issue features The Crib, a low-threshold shelter in Chicago, IL, that provides access to caring adults, family-style meals that foster discussion and peer interaction, and a structured environment that includes chores.

Low-threshold refers to the few requirements for admittance. The Crib does not require a referral or identification. The 20-bed shelter, which is open only at night, serves youth ages 18–24 and meets an important need. The Crib provided shelter to 59 youth and turned away 141 youth in its first month of operation.

This issue of The Exchange also highlights a one-stop-shop health clinic in Minneapolis, MN, that strives to improve well-being by increasing youth's access to health care, and it includes an article on programs that use art therapy to help youth cope with traumatic experiences.

The second issue, "Focusing on Outcomes for Youth: Permanent Connections," highlights programs that aim to achieve and strengthen permanent connections for youth. The article features Boys & Girls Aid, a 126-year-old youth-serving organization in Portland, OR. The organization offers an emergency shelter and transitional living programs, both focused on increasing permanency and achieving permanent connections. When youth enter either program, staff assess their location on the "spectrum of permanency" by evaluating the number of family and friends with whom they interact and the regularity and quality of those interactions. The needs assessment provides staff with a starting point for devising a plan to help youth develop and/or rekindle a relationship with at least one caring adult with whom they can have a lifelong connection.

The issue also features a program in Tucson, AZ, that allows young homeless couples to live together with their children instead of separating families.

The two issues focused on safety and self-sufficiency are forthcoming. Read "Focusing on Outcomes for Youth: Well-Being" and "Focusing on Outcomes for Youth: Permanent Connections" on the NCFY website:

http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/tools/exchange

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