Runaway Youth Act Case Study

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Prior to the 1970s, the juvenile justice court system and child welfare agencies managed the country’s homeless youth population (National Low Income Housing Coalition [NLIHC], 2014). The Runaway Youth Act (RYA) was passed in 1974 after increasing concern that homeless youth were frequently residing in dangerous and overcrowded areas. RYA evolved into The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) in 1977 and expanded into what it is known as today (NLIHC, 2014). RHYA is a federal law that provides funding for three different types of programs that are designed to assist homeless youth (National Network for Youth [NNY], 2013): • Street Outreach Programs – Provide counseling, treatment, education, and referrals to services that aim to transition…show more content…
According to Moses (1978), one factor contributing to the view of the runaway as nearly normal was the dramatic rise in the number of youths running away each year. In 1964, when the FBI began keeping statistics on runaways, there were 70,517 reported arrests; four years later, in 1968, the figure grew to 149,052. A peak was reached in 1971 with 204,544 arrests. This data shows how extreme of an increase and a major problem there was in runaway youth over the course of only seven years. Many homeless youth come from low-income backgrounds or from dysfunctional families, and consequently become homeless because of these issues. Some additional causes of homelessness are physical or sexual abuse, family that suffers from drug addiction, or because of parental neglect. Often young people experience more than one of these factors in their homes and are at a greater risk of becoming runaways or homeless due to the greater vulnerability caused by these factors. "Congress began to hear concerns about the vulnerabilities of the runaway population in the 1970's due to increased awareness about these youth and the establishment of runaway shelters to assist them in returning home" (Fernandes-Alcantara, 2013). Many youth living on the streets fall prey to substance abuse, unprotected sex, victimization, and develop mental illness. According to…show more content…
According to Moses (1978), prior to the passage of RHYA, runaway houses were operating on budgets and barely followed policies in regard to parental and police contact. Homeless youths need housing that includes shelters and transitional living programs. “The Runaway Youth Act of 1974 continued funding, and sixty six existing runaway houses were given a financial boost with federal funds.” The idea of this act was due to the steady shocking increase in the number of runaway and homeless youths. Moses (1978) discovered that the purpose behind the act was supported by a congressional finding that the number of runaways was increasing “to alarming proportions, creating a substantial law enforcement problem for the communities inundated, and significantly endangering the young people who are without resources and live on the street”. Lacks of affordable housing and limited assistance have also contributed to the increase in youth homelessness. According to Moses (1978), by defining the runaway problem as national and social, the Runaway Youth Act permitted and encouraged the extrajudicial system’s response, which was already taking place. What homeless youth need the most is a home. Programs exist to help them with this, but it can be challenging for them to access the

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