Family reunification is one of the many interventions used to end youth homelessness.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Basic Center Programs reunify 80 percent of youth under the age of 18 who need reunification services; Basic Centers are designed to provide counseling and referrals to facilitate the return of homeless youth back home. Case planning with the youth and his or her parents/legal guardians are conducted to assess the safety and well-being of the youth returning home.
This can often be the ideal situation for runaway and homeless youth. Reunifying with the family, with the facilitation of adept case managers, can end homelessness and provide the services needed to repair the conflict that precipitated the runaway episode in the first place.
If one of the main factors that lead to a youth running away is conflict over the youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity, then working with a youth and their family on the subject can be a very sensitive and delicate matter when the family is not accepting. Assessment tools, counseling, and family engagement practices should take into consideration the dynamics of family conflict when the family’s rejection of a youth’s self-identified sexual orientation or gender identity is at the core of the issue. Providers and practitioners should be aware of the symptoms of a family’s non-acceptance, including depression, low self-esteem, and increased risk of HIV and STDs.
To better ensure that youths and their families receive the necessary support and access to resources to address their crisis, we need to ensure that the Basic Center Programs funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs are adequately funded. These programs:
- Implement evidenced-based practices,
- Implement culturally competent practices and intervention tools,
- Maintain enough counselors to facilitate family reunification and after care services,
- Evaluate the success of their interventions to capture outcomes of youth who exit the program.
For more information about family reunification or about other issues affecting homeless youth, please visit the Alliance website.