NN4Y 2014 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

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The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) is the nation’s leading organization advocating at the federal level to educate the public and policymakers about the needs of homeless and disconnected youth. We are a membership organization of service providers, state agencies, coalitions, faith-based organizations, advocates and individuals who work towards our vision of a world where vulnerable and homeless youth can escape the dangers of the streets and access safety, youth-appropriate services, hope and healing.

The National Network, located in Washington, DC, builds relationships with policymakers and government agencies in order to champion the diverse needs of homeless and disconnected youth. Together with our members, we recommend strategic and targeted actions to support coordinated efforts to engage, serve and empower youth and families in crisis. The policy and legislative work we do is meant to provide our members (you!) with resources to better serve the needs of youth and their families.

In carrying out our mission as the nation’s leading network of homeless and runaway youth programs and their allies, we provide our members with:

  • Collaboration—information about community based organizations’ collaborative initiatives, promising practices and innovative strategies.
  • Knowledge—useful, timely and relevant information to increase the capacity of communities to serve youth and families in crisis.
  • Solutions—access to resources and innovative solutions to challenges communities face.
  • Education—federal policy advocacy, access to policy makers, policy action alerts and insider federal government information.

We partner with our members to enact public policies that decrease the number of youth who:

  • Couch-surf or live on the streets
  • Run away from home
  • Are ejected from their home
  • Are homeless

By doing this, our members prevent youth from:

  • Criminal justice system ensnarement
  • Victimization, exploitation and trafficking
  • Chronic homelessness as adults
  • Suffering with untreated physical and mental illnesses
  • Death
During my 20 years (so far!) of serving “runaway” and homeless youth, I have watched providers strive to bring the best services to our communities, even as the need continues to grow while funding does not. We know that youth and young adults with housing instability are also experiencing other struggles, and are impacted by systems such as juvenile justice, foster care, and educational institutions, forcing us to become more nimble as we strive to serve the whole youth, and not just their homelessness. We have had to become more creative in providing the same level of exceptional services, even while funding levels remain the same as they were over 10 years ago.

It isn’t all about the money; as federal entities enact policies, decide to end or change programs, or even redefine who can be served, we need a voice at those tables—a voice that ensures that these are informed decisions. We need an advocate that is tasked with seeing the bigger picture—to see how these various federal agencies and programs interact, especially when they are at odds with each other, which forces providers to make unnecessary choices in which services they offer. NN4Y is that voice. NN4Y is OUR voice. Only through our participation and support can they continue to educate, advocate, and hold these decision-makers accountable to the young people we serve.

Valerie Douglas, Director of Counseling & RHY Services, The Center for Youth Services, Rochester, NY
  • NN4Y was the architect of the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) signed into law in 1974 and has led every subsequent reauthorization and expansion.
  • During every budget debate we are at the table educating Congress about the necessity and importance to communities of runaway and homeless youth interventions for families and young people in crisis.
  • Provides expertise to policy makers when they call the National Network regarding potential legislation concerning homeless youth, human trafficking, education, juvenile justice, LGBT youth and child welfare policy.
  • Created and led the RHYA Reauthorization 2013-2014 Working Group, a nationally representative group of organizations serving homeless and vulnerable youth. This unified working group is advocating for the reauthorization of a more expansive Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). NN4Y members were invited to participate on the RHYA Reauthorization working group and some members did actively participate.
  • Successfully advocated for gap funding for Transitional Living Program grants and for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grantees during the government shutdown.
  • Initiated “A Home for the Holidays” campaign with NAEHCY and National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) to encourage colleges and universities to provide housing for homeless and foster youth during all college breaks.
  • Advocated for restoration of sequester cuts during the Continuing Resolution (CR) debate in U.S. Congress, which was ultimately restored.
  • Created and Launched the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), comprised of NN4Y members, which provides local input and expertise to direct NN4Y’s federal policy recommendations. This committee also assists with generating proactive policy ideas, recommendations and written papers.
  • Launched the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) to empower young people to define an educational policy agenda, provide their expertise and insight to regularly educate the public, vulnerable youth service providers and policy makers as Youth Advisors.
  • With our partners, we educated U.S. Congress about the challenges communities and youth face when trying to access U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development resources due to eligibility requirements affected by the definition of homelessness and documentation young people are required to provide to prove their “homelessness” status. As a result, the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014 (HCYA) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Portman (R-OH) and in the House by U.S. Representatives Stivers (R-OH) and Miller (D-CA) on July 24, 2014. The substantial challenges communities face when trying to access HUD housing and services for homeless youth, were first identified by our members.