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Senate Recognizes Runaway Prevention Month, Passes Bill to Protect Runaway and Homeless Youth

Runaway Prevention Month 

On September 22, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, a resolution supporting National Runaway Prevention Month (S. Res. 646), sponsored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). The House passed an identical resolution (H. Res. 1375), sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert (D-IL), on September 27. 

The resolution contains a number of findings, including:

  • the prevalence of running away from home and homelessness among youth is staggering, with studies suggesting that between 1.6 million and 2.8 million youth live on the streets of the United States each year;
  • running away from home is widespread, and youth aged 12 to 17 are at a higher risk of becoming homeless than adults;
  • youth who run away from home most often have been expelled from their homes by their families, have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused at home, have been discharged by state custodial systems without adequate transition plans, or have been separated from their parents by death and divorce, are too poor to secure their own basic needs, and are ineligible or unable to access adequate medical or mental health resources;
  • effective programs that support runaway youth and assist youth and their families in preventing youth from running away succeed because of partnerships created among families, community-based human service agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and businesses; and
  • the future wellbeing of the United States is dependent on the opportunities provided for youth and families to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for youth to develop into safe, healthy, and productive adults. 

Runway and Homeless Youth Prevention Act

On September 25, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Act (S. 2982). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on May 22 (see The Source, 5/23/08). The House approved the measure, by unanimous consent, on September 26. 

Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the legislation would authorize $150 million for FY2009 and additional funds as necessary through FY2013 for programs to protect runaway and homeless youth.

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