While the holiday season is a time to celebrate for many, some young adults may be spending their holidays homeless this year. And a large number of these young people may have been in our state’s foster care system.
A recent study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Administration on Children, Youth and Families’ Family and the Youth Services Bureau highlights data on runaway and homeless youth.
The study found that nearly 70 percent of youth who have experienced homelessness are between the ages of 19 and 21 years old. Those who were formerly in foster care are disproportionately homeless and this group also faces higher rates of sexual exploitation, victimization and behavioral health challenges.
According to a Chapin Hall study nearly 40 percent of youth formerly in foster care have experienced homelessness since aging out. In Nebraska, 51 percent of the young adults that are homeless in a recent point-in-time count had previously been in foster care.
The UNL report calls for increased street outreach services including intensive case management and targeted, supportive services and interventions to help young people work towards better outcomes through housing, permanent connections, well-being and education or employment.
Fortunately, many youth who were formerly in foster care in Nebraska can now access many of these services through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Bridge to Independence (B2I) program. As of December 1st, the B2I program has successfully enrolled 88 young adults since the program began in October. But there are more young people who can be reached. If you know or work with young people who could benefit from this program, please share with them the resources listed below.
Community service providers such as Youth Emergency Services, CEDARS, Community Action Partnership, The Bay, People’s City Mission and many others throughout Nebraska provide critical services for runaway and homeless youth even if they weren’t previously in foster care. These organizations can use your support, especially this time of year.
Together we can ensure that fewer young people will be homeless for the holidays.