RHY News

Home Free Program

The National Runaway Safeline (NRS), formerly known as the National Runaway Switchboard, established in 1971, serves as the federally-designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth.  Annually, NRS, with the support of more than 120 volunteers, makes 250,000 connections to help and hope through hotline, online and offline resources.  Through its crisis hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY) and online (1800RUNAWAY.org) services, NRS provides crisis intervention for youth at crisis and runaway and homeless youth, including youth victims of human trafficking, families, community members, and youth services providers throughout the country 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Home Free Program has reunited more than 17,000 youth with their families through. This programs is done in collaboration with Greyhound Lines, Inc. The Home Free Program helps reunite runaway youth with their families, or an alternative living arrangement through a free bus ticket home. By connecting to NRS at 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1800RUNAWAY.org, youth can initiate the process to return home or to a safe alternative.  

To learn more about the HOME FREE program and how you can utilize this service please visit: https://yoc.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/News/Home%20Free.pdf


The Opioid Epidemic: Two New Research Briefs

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) has just released the following two briefs:

  1. Substance Use, the Opioid Epidemic and the Child Welfare System: Key Takeaways from a Mixed Methods Study
  2. The Relationship Between Substance Use Prevalence and Child Welfare Caseloads

They are available at: https://aspe.hhs.gov/child-welfare-and-substance-use

The briefs examine how substance use affects child welfare systems across the country. Top-level findings are as follows:

  • Caseloads: Nationally, rates of drug overdose deaths and drug-related hospitalizations have a positive relationship with child welfare caseloads (that is, rates of child protective services reports, substantiated reports, and foster care placements). Generally, counties with higher overdose death and drug hospitalization rates have higher caseload rates. In addition, these substance use indicators correlate with rates of more complex and severe child welfare cases.
  • Availability and use of substance use treatment: Several major challenges affect how child welfare agencies and families interact with substance use treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Family-friendly treatment options are limited, and caseworkers, courts, and other providers often misunderstand how treatment works and lack guidelines on how to incorporate it into child welfare practice.
  • System response: Child welfare agencies and their community partners are struggling to meet families’ needs. Haphazard substance use assessment practices, barriers to collaboration with substance use treatment providers and other stakeholders, and shortages of foster homes and trained staff undermine the effectiveness of agencies’ responses to families.
Special thanks to Mathematica Policy Research for assistance with data collection, as well as the more than 180 individuals across the country participating in interviews. Their time, perspectives, and knowledge were invaluable in this research effort.

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) is pleased to announce Regional Meetings for Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program Grantees.  The objectives for the one-day, regionally based, meetings are to:

  1. Provide an opportunity for face to face time between grantees, federal project officers and regional program managers;
  2. Provide an opportunity for networking with colleagues to build support, share information, and foster future collaborative efforts;
  3. Provide information and direction from FYSB critical for operating programs which adhere to federal standards;
  4. Increase awareness of Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance (RHYTTAC); and
  5. Strengthen the foundation for on-going regional networking and support, improve communication with FYSB and RHYTTAC, and strengthen relationships.

FYSB invites each grantee to send at least one staff member, who is in a program management or lead position, to represent their organization and to disseminate the information shared.  FYSB is currently securing locations for the meetings for dates in March through July.  You will be notified of the confirmed location, date, and agenda for your regional meeting when planning is finalized. 

Please note these meetings are optional and stipends are not provided. While each grantee may use RHY federal funds to attend this meeting, FYSB recognizes you may not have budgeted to attend this event. It is anticipated these events will be repeated annually.

FYSB and RHYTTAC look forward to connecting with you soon.

Click here to visit the event calendar.

Equal Justice Works invites eligible organizations to apply to participate in the Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellowship Program

The Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellowship Program is an exciting new initiative designed to increase capacity and access to civil legal help for crime victims.

The Crime Victims Justice Corps will mobilize 62 Fellows and 34 summer law students over a two-year Fellowship period, from June 2018 to May 2020.

Fellows and law students will work at nonprofit organizations across the country:

  • 45 Fellows will serve human trafficking survivors.
  • 17 Fellows will serve survivors of campus sexual assault, fraud and/or identity theft, and hate crime, and immigrant victims.
  • 34 Law students will work during the summers (17 each summer), supporting the Fellows.

Fellows and law students will provide legal services, outreach, and education to address legal needs resulting from human trafficking and a variety of civil legal issues arising from victimization, such as family law, education, employment, immigration, and consumer protection, as well as enforcing crime victims’ rights.

The Host Organization Solicitation is now available here.

Key Dates

  • February 13, 2018: Solicitation released.
  • March 14, 2018: Applications are due.
  • April 4, 2018: Selected applicants are notified.
  • April/May 2018: Fellow recruitment by host organizations.
  • June 1, 2018: Fellows begin their term.
  • Summer 2018: Law students begin their term.


Equal Justice Works will provide up to $48,000 toward each Fellow's annual salary and additional funds, as specified in the solicitation. For law students, Equal Justice Works will provide a $3,200 stipend for working full-time for eight to ten weeks during the summer.


The National Crime Victim Law Institute will provide training and technical assistance to Fellows and law students.

Informational Webinar

On February 23, 2018, Equal Justice Works will host an informational webinar about the application process. Sign up here to receive call-in details.

Notice of Intent to Apply

By February 26, 2018, interested applicants are requested to submit a notice of intent to apply here.

How to Apply

All applications must be uploaded to an online application page, which will become live on or before February 26, 2018. Please be sure to review the solicitation in its entirety.

Sign-up and Contact Information

  • Sign up here to receive program updates.
  • For more information, please contact Allie Yang-Green at [email protected]  or (202) 372-9331.

Application Materials

This program is supported by an $8.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Award Number 2017-MU-MU-K131, and private funding.


Funding Opportunity Announced to Expand Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment and Recovery Services to Adolescent and Transitional Aged Youth and Families

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2018 Enhancement and Expansion of Treatment and Recovery Services for Adolescents, Transitional Aged Youth, and their Families grant program (Short Title: Youth and Family TREE).  The purpose of this program is to enhance and expand comprehensive treatment, early intervention, and recovery support services for adolescents (ages 12-18), transitional aged youth (ages 16-25), and their families/primary caregivers with substance use disorders (SUD) and/or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders.

The Anticipated total funding amount is $14,616,450 for this grant award and at least $5 million will be awarded to federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes/tribal organizations.  SAMHSA anticipates making 27 awards for up to $541,350 per year for a maximum of five years.

Application Deadline: Tuesday, April 10, 2018.  Applicants must send the Public Health System Impact Statement (PHSIS) to their appropriate State and local health agencies – their Single State Point of Contact.

Eligibility: SAMHSA seeks to further expand access and the geographical distribution, as well as reduce duplication, of its adolescent programs.  Therefore, grant recipients funded under TI-16-006 FY 2016 Cooperative Agreements for Adolescent and Transitional Aged Youth Treatment Implementation and TI-17-002 FY 2017 Cooperative Agreements for Adolescent and Transitional Aged Youth Treatment Implementation are not eligible to apply for this funding opportunity. See the full grant announcement for details.

For program information, contact: Ramon Bonzon, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Division of Services Improvement, SAMHSA,  (240) 276-2975, [email protected]

The full grant opportunity announcement at: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-18-010

Missed Opportunities:  Youth Homelessness in America

Voices of Youth Count is an unprecedented initiative to understand, address and prevent youth homelessness. Chapin Hall, using its substantial research and policy assets, has conducted the most comprehensive research to date on youth homelessness, incorporating youth voices to develop achievable solutions. This research creates a foundation on which we can build solutions –effective policies and practices –to end homelessness for young people. Here are some of the findings:

Youth homelessness is a broad and hidden challenge

  • Over a 12-month period, 4.3% of households with 13-17 year-olds reported youth homelessness. This is 1 in 30 youth in America in that age group. This translates to a minimum of 700,000 adolescent minors or the equivalent of over 800 average-sized high schools. About three-quarters of them involved explicit homelessness (including running away or being kicked out) and one-quarter involved couch surfing only.

Youth homelessness involves diverse experiences and circumstances.

  • Nearly three-quarters of the young people who experienced “literal homelessness” (sleeping on the streets, in a car, or in a shelter) also said they had stayed with others while unstably housed.
  • About half of the follow-up interview respondents believed that the youth was unsafe during their experiences of explicit homelessness or couch surfing.
  • Young people struggle with a range of issues: 28% reported having substance use problems, and 66% reported mental health problems.

Prevention and early intervention are essential

  • Half of the youth who experienced homelessness in the past year did so for the first time.
  • This means that it is not enough to respond to the problem; we must get in front of it.
  • This finding was supported by the in-depth interviews that we did in five sites. The majority of the youth interviewed had experiences of housing instability that started in childhood or adolescence.

Youth homelessness affects urban and rural youth at similar levels

  • In predominantly rural counties, 9.2 % of young adults reported any homelessness while, in predominantly urban counties, the prevalence rate was 9.6%.
  • For 13-17 year-olds, household prevalence of any homelessness was 4.4% in predominantly rural counties, and 4.2% in mainly urban counties.
  • Homelessness is just as much of a challenge in rural communities as it is in more urban communities. Of course the number of youth experiencing homelessness in urban and suburban areas is much larger given population density.

Access the full brief or one pager here: http://voicesofyouthcount.org/brief/national-estimates-of-youth-homelessness/  


OAH Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report

The HHS Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) is pleased to announce the release of the HHS Office of Adolescent Health Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report. The report documents accomplishments and progress made in the past year across the five focus areas of OAH's strategic framework: educating the public and professionals, supporting evidence-based programs and practices, leading through action, promoting multi-sector partnerships, and investing in evaluation and research.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, OAH:

  • Published a supplement in the peer-reviewed Journal of Adolescent Health, sharing results of the communitywide teen pregnancy prevention initiatives project by OAH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Produced videos featuring adolescent health experts for the Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG) call to action.
  • Reached 213,000 youth through the TPP Program, more than tripling the number served in FY 2016.
  • Revamped its website for easier navigation and access on mobile devices.
  • Increased subscribers to TAG e-updates by 25%, Twitter followers by 12%, and subscribers to OAH e-updates by 9%.

Visit the OAH Mission page to read the report and learn more about OAH's work.


HHS Bulletin: The Opioid Epidemic: A Focus on Adolescents

Defining the Issue:
The opioid epidemic affects individuals and communities across the United States in a variety of ways. Opioids are a broad class of drugs that relieve pain and include prescription pain relievers, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, and heroin. Overall, overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids have increased over the past decade, and the public, private, and nonprofit sectors are working to address the growing epidemic.

The Numbers:
In 2016, 3.6 percent of adolescents ages 12-17 had misused opioids over the past year, a figure that has remained stable over the past decade. However, overdose deaths from opioids for adolescents ages 15-19 increased from 1999 through 2007, declined from 2007-2014, and then began rising again in 2015.

Adolescents at Risk:
All adolescents are at risk for misusing opioids, even those who have not previously used drugs and who disapprove of illegal drug use. In fact, there is a 33 percent increased risk of future opioid misuse if a high school student uses opioids as prescribed by a doctor.

Few adolescents with an opioid use disorder (OUD) receive treatment, and disparities exist. From 2001 to 2014, for insured youth with an OUD, only one in four received treatment. Females were less likely to receive treatment compared to males, and youth who were Hispanic or non-Hispanic black were less likely to receive treatment than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

Preventing Opioid Misuse:
The fact that the adolescent brain is still growing means that teens are vulnerable to addiction, but the adolescent brain is also ripe for learning healthy habits and behavior.

To help prevent opioid misuse, those who care about and for adolescents should:

  • Treat pain cautiously. Adolescents often are initially exposed to opioids through prescriptions; dentist prescriptions account for 31 percent of adolescents’ first exposure to opioids. While the effectiveness of alternative treatment options is still being studied, health care providers should turn to other treatment options before prescribing opioids for acute and chronic pain. The National Institutes for Health has pain information for health professionals, and the Turn the Tide pain treatment toolbox also has a range of resources.

  • Talk with teens in your life about pain treatment and management. Regardless of drug use history, reach out to youth. Building strong relationships with adolescents is the first step to connecting with youth on drug prevention. Collaboration between and within youth-serving sectors and community partnerships present opportunities to reach at-risk and drug-naïve adolescents by increasing the efficiency of care, communicating across providers, and breaking down stigmas. Combining services such as trauma-informed care and psychological support with mentors and peers in the same location also can be an effective way to reach and help youth.

  • Act when you suspect an adolescent or someone close to them is misusing opioids. Signs of opioid misuse include: drowsiness, constipation, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, dry mouth, headaches, sweating, and mood changes, among others. If you are concerned about opioid misuse, call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4345) and consult the directory for opioid treatment programs in your area.

Additional Resources for Stopping and Preventing Opioid Misuse:

  • Follow Best Practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Substance Use and Prevention outlines best practices for the health sector to screen, treat, and refer adolescents with substance use issues.

  • Find Research and Resources. The NIH Public-Private Initiative to Address the Opioid Crisis researches “new and improved” approaches to prevent, detect, and reverse overdoses as well as identify nonaddictive treatments for chronic pain. Also, OAH’s Adolescent Health Library has a range of relevant resources on illicit and non-illicit drug use.

  • Utilize Lesson Plans.  Educators can find lesson plans from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that help them inform their students and answer questions about the nature of prescription drug abuse. 

  • Build Relationships. Keeping Youth Drug Free provides parents and caregivers with tips on building strong relationships with adolescents, guidance for tough conversations about substance use, and a list of common drugs and their street names. OAH also has tips on how parents and caregivers can have start these conversations with their teen.

  • Know the Laws. The Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System keeps track of important state laws about prescription drug abuse such as prescription drug monitoring programs, opioid prescribing guidelines, and Good Samaritan overdose prevention laws.


FYSB and the National Runaway Safeline Release Crisis Contacts Report

November is National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). This month serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting runaway and homeless youth in our communities. This year’s NRPM theme is “Friends Helping Friends.” A “friend” can be a youth, teacher, mentor, youth serving organization, family member, or other caring adult. That person or group of people plays an important role in providing support to the youth or just a listening ear. In support of National Runaway Prevention Month, the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) and the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), the federally funded national communication system for runaway and homeless youth, have released the National Runaway Safeline Crisis Contacts Report. This report provides a snapshot of what thousands of youth in crisis faced during the year. It also reveals trends and describes how the NRS encourages young people to work through their problems before they end up on the street. FYSB and the NRS hope that this data report can assist youth-serving organizations and other key stakeholders better understand the youth who need their assistance.

Click here to view the crisis contacts report: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/fysb/nrs_crisis_contacts_report_1.pdf

To learn more about NRPM, please click here: https://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-prevention-month/

ASPE Briefs: Available Research on Prolonged Youth Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) has published three briefs gathering data from available research about youth that experience prolonged homelessness.

Factors Associated with Prolonged Youth Homelessness is available here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/factors-associated-prolonged-youth-homelessness.

This brief aims to summarize factors associated with prolonged episodes of homelessness among youth. While further research is needed to explore cause and effect relationships, available evidence demonstrates these youth experience:

  • Increased involvement in child welfare and criminal justice systems;
  • Higher rates of child maltreatment, substance abuse and mental health challenges; and
  • Greater likelihood of dropping out of school, unemployment and housing instability.

Serious Mental Illness and Prolonged Youth Homelessness can be found here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/serious-mental-illness-and-prolonged-youth-homelessness.

This brief considers whether the known intersection between chronic adult homelessness and serious mental illness extends to youth.  While additional research is needed, including the extent to which serious mental illness may contribute to prolonged experiences of homelessness among youth, or vice versa, this brief concludes that:

  • Mental health disorders among youth can increase the risk for homelessness;
  • The more time youth spend on the streets, the greater their likelihood of mental health disorders; and
  • Early interventions for youth with mental health issues may help prevent and address prolonged homelessness among young people.

Interventions for Addressing Prolonged Youth Homelessness is available here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/interventions-addressing-prolonged-youth-homelessness.

This brief explores evidence of effective interventions to prevent or reduce prolonged youth homelessness.  While additional research is needed, including the extent to which the promising practices that have had success with similar populations effectively translate to youth experiencing prolonged homelessness, ASPE did identify promising interventions.  Those include:

  • Supportive housing;
  • Social Enterprise Intervention;
  • Coordinated Specialty Care; and
  • Functional Family Therapy.
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