Youth Count!

Developing Strategies for Counting Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education (ED), launched Youth Count!, an interagency initiative to develop promising strategies for counting unaccompanied homeless youth, up to 24-years-old, through innovative implementations of HUD’s 2013 Point-in-Time (PIT) count.  The Youth Count! Initiative was developed per a recommendation from the framework for ending youth homelessness.

The HUD Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, the main data source used for measuring progress against the goals in Opening Doors, is an effective means of providing estimates for the general homeless population but has been less effective at addressing the challenges of counting homeless youth. Because the HUD PIT counts are conducted in every community around the country, this presents an opportunity to test youth PIT strategies to capture information on the numbers and characteristics of homeless youth.

The goal of this initiative is to learn promising strategies for conducting the following: 1) collaborative PIT counts of unaccompanied homeless youth that engage Continuums of Care (CoC), Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) providers, Local Education Agency (LEA) homeless liaisons, and other local stakeholders; and 2) credible PIT counts that gather reliable data on unaccompanied homeless youth.

The following nine diverse and dynamic communities are participating in the Youth Count! initiative: 

Boston, MA                                        New York City, NY
Cleveland, OH                                   King County, WA
Hennepin County, MN                       Washington State
Houston, TX                                      Winston-Salem, NC
Los Angeles, CA

Youth Count! Webinar Series

The Youth Count! Initiative includes a series of webinars throughout December 2012 and January 2013. The webinar series is a resource that the federal government is providing to communities across the country to support collaborative local counts of youth homelessness.  Even if you are not one of the nine communities participating in this particular initiative, this information is valuable to any community looking to improve their count of youth in January 2013’s PIT Count. As webinars are presented they will be added to this webpage, so we encourage you to check back often for new resources. 

Introduction to Youth Count! Initiative, October 11, 2012
This webinar, hosted by USICH, introduced stakeholders from the nine invited communities to the purpose of Youth Count! and its main features.
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Outreach & Sampling Methods for Youth Counts: Data Collection, December 5, 2012

Presenters: Martha Burt, The Urban Institute; Lauren Dunton, Abt Associates

Reaching unaccompanied homeless youth in PIT counts isn’t easy. Without good strategies to identify them, unaccompanied homeless youth, or subgroups of youth, could be greatly underrepresented in PIT counts. This webinar will describe approaches to identify hard to reach youth. It will also describe ways to map out the best locations for reaching homeless youth in street counts, and how to build creative partnerships, such as with law enforcement or social services, to improve outreach.

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Other national partners have presented webinars on the topic of including youth in the 2013 PIT Count, which you can access below.

Training and Preparation for Youth Counts: Involving Youth, Universities, and Volunteers, December 6, 2012

Presenters: Maggie Riden and Justin Rodriguez, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

Young people from runaway and homeless youth services and local institutions of higher education have played important roles as both employed and volunteer contributors to both planning and implementing past efforts to count unaccompanied homeless youth. They can be tremendous assets for this kind of effort. At the same time, they require well-organized training and support to ensure their safe and effective participation. This webinar will address common issues including recruitment, selection, safety, training, and payment of young people in local services and institutions of higher education to support more effective youth counts.

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Strategies for Coordinating Data for Youth Counts: Street Counts, HMIS and Schools Data, December 19, 2012 

Presenters: Karen Deblasio, US Department of Housing & Urban Development; John McLaughlin, US Department of Education; McKinney-Vento Liaison(s)

One of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, for getting to better data on unaccompanied homelessness youth in PIT counts is coordinating and sharing data between systems and services. This webinar will include presenters from Federal agencies and the field to outline innovations and possible solutions for using and integrating data between schools, Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS), and runaway and homeless youth services to provide a more accurate youth count. The webinar will discuss common challenges, such as timing, data protection, and data comparability issues.

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It’s a Data Driven World: Making the Most of the 2013 Youth-Inclusive PIT Count, NAEH, October 4, 2012

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Youth Targeted Point-in-Time Counts: What You Need to Know!, NAEH, October 18, 2012 
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