Homeless youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and who are between the ages of 14 and 25, are a population known as unaccompanied homeless youth. Data from the Maryland State Department of Education shows that this population has increased by more than three-quarters (80%) since School Years 2007-2008. This vulnerable population is more likely to become disconnected and socially disengaged, at risk of physical and sexual abuse, and reports higher rates of mental, behavioral, and physical health issues than their peers.
Due to age, developmental stage, and past traumatic experiences, unaccompanied homeless youth have unique needs that cannot be addressed by the same housing and supportive services offered to adults. The root causes of youth homelessness are varied, but often include an unsafe home environment due to domestic violence, parental addiction, or family discord due to sexual orientation or gender identity; transition from systems involvement (detention, foster care, or other institutional placements); family poverty; undocumented status; and lack of affordable housing. Because the population has many subgroups with special considerations, targeted interventions must be identified for parents, families, individuals identifying as Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning, and individuals whose behavioral health issues prevent them from accessing traditional shelter options and services.
For additional resources from the Governor's Office for Children and Families, please visit their website.
Frederick County's Program:
With funding from the Governor's Office for Children, Frederick County Office for Children and Families began to fund the "New Horizons Frederick" operated by the Student Homeless Initiative Partnership (SHIP). This program offers personalized counseling, case management, and service linkage for homeless Frederick County public high school students. The program provides students with access to resources needed to achieve an on-time graduation including access to personal health, economic, educational, and enrichment services and activities.