On July 12, the White House, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, honored 13 leaders who have made a significant difference in the way their communities address homelessness among children and youth at Champions of Change in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness event. The Champions of Change event provided an opportunity for community leaders,agency representatives and various White House officials to share and discuss effective ways to make change to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children and youth.
Each week, the White House honors a different group of Americans who are making positive change in their communities through the Champions of Change event series. The White House recognizes that the best ideas come from the American people. Champions of Change provides an opportunity to not only acknowledge individuals who are doing great things within their community, but to generate a dialogue about innovative strategies and ideas that can make positive change a reality throughout the country.
The 13 community leaders were selected as Champions of Change because they exemplify the spirit of collaboration and a commitment to diversity and have demonstrated that innovative strategies, coupled with unwavering commitment, can produce measurable results when serving children and youth experiencing homelessness in their communities. The Champions came from multiple service sectors including non-profit organizations, government agencies, and philanthropy. The diverse backgrounds of the Champions provided unique perspectives on how to be a catalyst of change when impacting efforts for serving children and youth experiencing homelessness.
On the day of the Champions of Change in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness event, the Champions spoke about interventions for serving children and youth experiencing homelessness and offered insight and words of wisdom for how to impact change in communities. Over the course of two panel discussions moderated by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Commissioner of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children, Families, and Youth Bryan Samuels one resounding theme emerged throughout the conversation with the Champions: We are all partners in this difficult work and we must act together to make progress on the goal of ending homelessness for youth and children.
Collaboration is key to preventing and ending homelessness among children and youth and it must occur across sectors and at every level of government. Ending homelessness for children and youth requires a systemic approach to services and housing options and scaling up best practices that employ both targeted solutions and mainstream systems. With these principles in mind, we can all act as change agents within our communities fighting to end homelessness.
Like the 13 Champions of Change, every community has the ability to act as a change agent for children and youth experiencing homelessness. We urge communities to commit to ending homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020 and align local and state strategic plans with Opening Doors. It is critical for communities and states to work with USICH and our federal partners to get better data on homeless youth, identify best practices and interventions, and develop a coherent system of care for children and youth experiencing homelessness—using both targeted and mainstream programs. With a coherent system of care in place, children and youth experiencing or at-risk of homelessness will have access to the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential.