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
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.