Identifying Housing and Services for a Young Homeless Parent
According to the Voices for Youth Count’s National Survey, 1.1 million children in the United States had a young homeless parent in the past year. Of Americans who are homeless, nearly 4.2 million were young parents or pregnant youth.
Over the past two decades, pregnancy among young adults has greatly decreased. But in contrast, the rate of young adults who are homeless and pregnant and/or parenting has skyrocketed. This young adult population is extremely vulnerable and carry the added expenses that come with prenatal and childcare and often end up homeless and/or poor.
When youth become young parents, they often lack the proper financial and other resources to care for their families and are often unprepared for the responsibilities that come with raising children. New relationships between young parents are often strained due to the stressful demands of early parenting, leading to separation in the relationship and single parenting. These challenges of young and homeless parents need to be tackled.
Voices of Youth Count identifies the issues that young parents face and makes recommendations to policy makers and practitioners to seek solutions for this vulnerable population.
Some of Voices for Youth Count’s (VoYC) recommendations include:
Addressing sexual and reproductive health needs by providing better pregnancy prevention programs as well as prenatal and postpartum care
Increasing collaboration between homeless service providers and providers in early childhood, early intervention, education, and welfare
Exploring opportunities for family reunification with youth who are experiencing homelessness and are pregnant or parenting
Developing the capacity to help pregnant or parenting youth without discrimination
Assessing the risk for homelessness among pregnant or parenting youth and providing appropriate services when needed
An additional recommendation can be providing permanent, affordable housing for this population in need of housing and support services.
Currently, only 38% of the 142 homeless youth service providers who responded to the VoYC Survey reported that they serve youth who are parenting. Other findings suggest that there is a significant gap in the availability of services for young parents who are homeless, especially if they are minors or living in rural areas.
VoYC is working to ensure that pregnancy does not increase the risk of homelessness and that young parents get the resources that they deserve.
VoYC states in its report “Addressing these needs will require a concerted effort on the part of homeless service providers, other practitioners, and policymakers. It also requires actionable research to guide policy and practice. Failure is not an option.”