Let’s look beyond beds.
What’s going on when a young person can’t sleep at home? Either there’s been a breakdown in the relationships with family, or members of the family and extended network don’t have the economic means to provide housing. In other words, the missing bed is not the root of the problem, the collapse of a supportive network with financial resources is.
Let’s prioritize relationships.
We can’t expect young people who can no longer live at home to heal on their own. People need other people. We are social creatures who flourish in community. To truly thrive, all youth need lasting relationships with caring stable adults.
Let’s facilitate connections with community adults.
Social services provide young people experiencing homelessness with vital support. Yet people paid to assist youth can only be in their lives temporarily. Success hinges on connecting young people with community adults who can stick around for the long haul.
Let’s start with the young person.
Young people who lack stable housing can often identify caring adults in their extended family and network who could potentially provide housing and support, but the young person may need help to reconnect or repair those relationships.
Let’s track what matters.
If what we track is the number of nights we provide young people beds, we’ll create systems that provide beds. If what we track is how deeply youth are connected to stable adults who can provide lasting and potentially lifetime support, we’ll create systems that facilitate secure relationships and embed youth in a caring community.