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Runaway and Homeless Youth


Youth runaways and homelessness are often linked to justice system involvement. Research has shown that these children also face a range of challenges related to their health, emotional well-being, safety, development, and a chance for overall positive youth outcomes.

OJJDP Efforts

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is working to address these issues through several programs such as mentoringdrug treatment courts, reentry, partnerships, and research.

This work includes partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the National Network for Youth. OJJDP also has funded research to provide national estimates of missing children based on surveys of households, juvenile residential facilities, and law enforcement agencies. 

In 2023, OJJDP staff participated in the National Summit on Youth Homelessness, where they highlighted how the Department of Justice and OJJDP are working to address youth homelessness.

These at-risk youth populations are significant. Between 1.6 million and 2.8 million youth run away each year, according to the National Runaway Safeline and HHS. The National Runaway Safeline provides a 24-hour crisis hotline and online services to youth who are at risk of running away or who have runaway or are homeless.

In 2022, an estimated 97,800 children were homeless at a single point in time, and 10% of these children were unsheltered. The percentage of households with children that report that they are living in physically inadequate, crowded, or costly housing provides insight into the impact of economic factors on housing choices and children’s well-being according to America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2023.

National Runaway Prevention Month

National Runaway Prevention Month

November is National Runaway Prevention Month, a time to bring attention and focus to the issues impacting runaway, homeless, and other at-risk youth. Read about OJJDP's efforts to address runaway youth prevention in the blog post, "The Invisible Faces of Runaway Youth". 

Additional Resources

Family Interventions for Youth Experiencing or At Risk of Homelessness - Access family intervention practices from this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-sponsored report.

FindTreatment.gov - Find treatment for mental and substance use disorders from this online resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) - Learn about the Justice Department's efforts to address MMIP, view Tribal Community Response Plans, Data and Research, and more. 
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children - Learn about trainings, programs, and outreach efforts.

Runaway & Homeless Youth Programs - Learn about outreach, shelters, transitional living, and group home programs.

Youth.gov: Homelessness and Runaway - View online resources, tools, and guides on homelessness and runaways.

Date Created: August 30, 2019