Representatives Reichert and Yarmuth Introduce RHYTPA

//Representatives Reichert and Yarmuth Introduce the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act

For Release: April 15, 2015
Contact: Darla Bardine, National Network for Youth
darla.bardine@nn4youth.org, 703 239 3122

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Network for Youth applauded the introduction of landmark legislation in the House yesterday to support vulnerable youth across the country. Yesterday, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.). The National Network for Youth has been leading the reauthorization of RHYA with its partners and convened a group of 35 experts who collaborated and developed recommendations for critical updates to the legislation.

“Runaway and homeless youth programs provide life-saving services to youth all across America, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act makes necessary updates to improve the services that homeless youth in crisis need to stabilize, avoid or leave victimization, reconnect with education and go on to thrive as adults,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director of the National Network for Youth.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015 (RHYTPA) (H.R. 1779) includes provisions for collecting data on victims of human trafficking, adds a nondiscrimination clause that brings the Act into accordance with the federal regulations that most runaway and homeless youth programs currently follow, and increases the allowable length of stay for Basic Center Programs from 21 to 30 days to give young people and their families more time to access reunification services when needed. H.R. 1779 is a companion bill to S.262 which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on January 27, 2015 by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Collins (R-ME).

“We have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable,” said Representative Dave Reichert (WA-8). “Many of our most vulnerable are children who have for one reason or another been forced to live on the streets. Too often we fail to see these kids and we leave them without opportunities to rebuild their lives. This bill will help us to fix that, and it will help us provide shelter for children in need and set them up to become successful adults.”

The House bill also extends family intervention and reunification services to Transitional Living Programs when it is safe and appropriate for the youth.  Family intervention, counseling and reunification will include all individuals that a youth considers to be family, which will likely have a significant impact on youth who identify as LGBTQ.  In addition, the reauthorization updates the provisions for all three of the major programs that award grants to community providers: Basic Center Programs, Transitional Living Programs (including Maternity Group Homes), and Street Outreach Programs. The national support activities and rural demonstration grants have remained an important part of how this legislation cares for homeless youth.

“This legislation will help us meet our responsibility to combat youth homelessness and ensure that homeless young people in America have a place to seek shelter and find safety,” said Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3). “When a child is homeless, they don’t just lose the security of a safe place to sleep, they miss out on opportunities for future success.”

RHYTPA adds human trafficked runaway and homeless youth to the National Study of the Prevalence Needs and Characteristics of Homeless Youth in America, which was added to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in 2008.  This national study will collect much needed data about the runaway and homeless youth population in the United States and provide vital nationwide information needed to more effectively prevent the trafficking of children and provide appropriate services to survivors.

The National Network for Youth applauds Representatives Reichert and Yarmuth for their bipartisan leadership on the reauthorization of this important piece of legislation and giving voice to the vulnerable runaway and homeless youth who need help and services today.

Notes to the Editor:

About Runaway and Homeless Youth and Human Trafficking

Research has shown that runaway and homeless youth in America are at heightened risk of both sex and labor trafficking:

  • School-age children not living with their parents (homeless youth) are at the greatest risk for coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Runaway and homeless youth are more likely to fall victim to sexual exploitation and 28% of youth living on the street trade sex for basic needs such as food or shelter. 1
  • Homeless youth are often targeted by labor traffickers because they lack access to resources they need to live, such as shelter, food, and personal connections—yet the promises of paid employment are not realized.

Runaway and Homeless Youth programs are located in many communities across the country and are often best positioned to prevent trafficking and commercial exploitation and provide early identification of survivors of these crimes. These programs also provide survivors of human trafficking with hope, safety, healing, and opportunities for a new life through: outreach, emergency shelters, family reunification work when safe, aftercare, education and employment services, health care, transitional housing, and independent housing options.

About the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

This year marks 41 years that the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.) has been providing federal grants to communities to provide critical services to homeless and runaway youth. In every American community, youth run away from home, are kicked out of their home, become orphans or exit the juvenile justice or child welfare system with nowhere to go. RHYA provides three different grants to community-based organizations to reach out to homeless youth on the streets, provide crisis intervention housing, basic life necessities, family interventions and longer-term housing options when necessary.  The National Network for Youth has been leading the reauthorization of RHYA with the True Colors Fund and other partners.

About the National Network for Youth

The National Network for Youth (NN4Y), founded in 1974, is the nation’s leading network of homeless youth community based service providers, faith-based organizations, advocates, and allies. The Network champions the needs of runaway, homeless, and other disconnected youth through strengthening the capacity of community-based services, facilitating resource sharing, and educating the public and policy makers. NN4Y’s members work collaboratively to prevent youth homelessness and the inherent risks of living on the streets, including exploitation, human trafficking, criminal justice involvement, or death. For more information, visit www.nn4youth.org.
1. Jody M. Greene, Susan T. Ennett, & Christopher L. Ringwalt, Prevalence and Correlates of Survival Sex Among Runaway and Homeless Youth, 89 Am. J. Pub. Health 1406, 1408 (1999), available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1508758/pdf/amjph00009-0102.pdf.
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