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Children, Youth & Families

According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, “just over 180,000 people in 56,000 families with children experienced homelessness, about 62,000 fewer people than in 2010, a 25 percent decline.” (p. 4) Still, children under the age of 18 comprise a fifth of all people experiencing homelessness (according to the Point-in-Time Count), and youth 18 to 24 make up 8.7% of the total population. Progress on ending homelessness among children and youth has been made in large part to federal prioritization, but serving this subpopulation remains an important challenge. Follow the links below to learn more about how to tailor services to children and youth experiencing homelessness.


NHCHC Publications & Resources

  • Supplemental Anticipatory Guidance for Children and Adolescents Experiencing Homelessness (2018) | Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’ Network | A key component of well-child visits, anticipatory guidance—a proactive, age-based education and counseling technique—provides an opportunity for health care professionals, parents, and the child to ask questions and discuss issues of concern. This publication supplements standard anticipatory guidance to account for the uniquechallenges presented by homelessness that may affect a child’s health and development.
  • Engaging Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Core Practices and Services(2016) | National Health Care for the Homeless Council | This publication describes in-depth practices and services that HCH agencies have found to be helpful in engaging youth experiencing homelessness. It incorporates trauma-informed, consumer-driven principles and addresses various challenges in youth engagement, providing a multitude of resources for information and guidance.
  • In Focus: Behavioral Health among Youth Experiencing Homelessness(2015) | National Health Care for the Homeless Council | This issue of In Focus provides a synthesis of recent literature on behavioral health issues among homeless youth. It gives an overview of the homeless youth population, prevalence of behavioral health issues, factors that can impact these issues, and implications for practice and policy.
  • Engaging Homeless Youth: Recommendations and Resources (2015) | National Health Care for the Homeless Council | This webinar identifies concepts of engagement, describes how services are part of engagement for youth, explores barriers to engagement, discusses the importance of youth involvement, and provides information on locating additional resources on providing services to youth.
  • Operation CHOICES: Nutrition and Fitness Programming to Combat Obesity and Food Insecurity for Families in Shelters (2012) | National Health Care for the Homeless Council | This case report explores the issues of obesity and food insecurity experienced by families living in shelters, as well as demonstrating the impact of a shelter-based obesity prevention program.
  • Addressing Family Homelessness (2012) | Healing Hands | This issue of Healing Hands identifies models and strategies to address and end family homelessness as it reaches levels that have not been reported since the Great Depression.
  • When the Bough Breaks. Families Experiencing Homelessness (2010) | Healing Hands | This issue of Healing Hands explores the impact of homelessness and mental illness on parenting, and presents practice recommendations to support these families.

Additional Resources

  • Supportive Housing and Health Services for LGBTQIA+ Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Promising Practices (2020) | National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center – This publication addresses health disparities that LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing homelessness face and focuses on ways to increase engagement of LGBTQIA+ youth into health and housing programs.
  • America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness (2014) | National Center on Family Homelessness – This report presents the clearest snapshot yet of the 2.5 million children who are homeless each year—where they live and the consequences of their precarious situations. The report documents the extent of child homelessness, child well-being, risk for child homelessness, and policy and planning efforts for each state. Recommendations for state and federal action are also included.
  • Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs (2014) | To better understand provider experiences serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) runaway and homeless youth, this case study of four local agencies receiving grants from the Administration for Children and Family’s Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program reports on programs’ strategies for identifying and serving LGBTQ RHY, the challenges programs face in understanding and addressing the needs of this population, and potential areas for future research.
  • State Laws on Minor Consent to Routine Medical Care (Updated July 2019) | SchoolHouse Connection| This documents breaks down statutes by state related to minor consent to medical care, emancipation, and associated case laws.
  • Child Exposure to Trauma: Comparative Effectiveness of Interventions Addressing Maltreatment (2013) | Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 89. | Prepared by the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, this report compares the efficacy of 24 clinical interventions for child maltreatment for children ages 0-14.
  • Emotional and Cognitive Impact of Chronic Homelessness on a Child (2011) | Health Care for the Homeless, Inc. (Baltimore, MD), Children & Families Work Group, HCH Clinicians’ Network | This case report explores the impact of homelessness on child development, from communication skills to mental health.
  • Measures Review Database | National Child Traumatic Stress Network (SAMHSA funded) – Free online searchable database that provides clinicians and researchers with in-depth information to enable them to choose the best instrument to assess children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. The Measures Review Database fills an important gap in the field. Its purpose is to promote the use of state-of-the-art measures for improved clinical intervention and research on child trauma.
  • Family Care Curriculum | Karen Hudson | This six-week program uses a train-the-trainer model, which combines attachment and trauma theory to train clinicians to help parents address their children’s developmental, emotional, and cultural needs, while experiencing the stressors of homelessness.
  • Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources | National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health | This online tool consists of eight modules offering guidance on providing trauma informed care to children, youth, and families through video interviews, issue briefs, and resource lists.

National Organizations Focusing on Children & Youth

NHCHC Media Experts: COVID-19

To request an interview with a National Health Care for the Homeless Council staff or community member, contact Terri Woodmore, Communications Manager.

Council Staff

Hugo Aguas, MA

Research Associate

Hugo works with the research team to research health outcomes using data driven methodologies, Hugo collaborates with other community health partners throughout the country to develop educational materials pertaining to medical care for those experiencing homelessness. Hugo also disseminates data and provides ease-of-access to community partners throughout the nation, and assists in writing publications and scheduling educational seminars on public health amongst those experiencing homelessness.



Barbara DiPietro, PhD

Senior Director of Policy

Barbara directs the policy and advocacy activities for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This includes conducting policy analysis, providing educational materials and presentations to a broad range of policymakers and other stakeholders, coordinating the Council’s policy priorities with national partners, and organizing staff assistance to the Policy Committee and the National Consumer Advisory Board.



Tineciaa Harris MSPH, MS

Clinical and Quality Improvement Manager

Tineciaa works to improve the clinical environment in health centers broadly through education, training, technical assistance, and policy with a focus on quality improvement. Tineciaa operates on the national level in frequent partnership with both federal and non-profit organizations and leads initiatives that seek to improve health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.



Katie League, LCSW-C

COVID-19 Project Manager (Policy Team)

Katie works with the policy team to support the Council’s efforts surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. She works to identify and promote promising practices, common challenges, and key policy issues faced by the HCH community.




Courtney Pladsen, DNP, FNP-BC, RN

Director of Clinical and Quality Improvement

Courtney Pladsen leads initiatives to improve the delivery of primary care, substance use treatment, and mental health care nationally. She directs training and quality improvement initiatives, and contributes to research and policy recommendations on emerging clinical issues affecting people experiencing homelessness.

Bobby Watts

Bobby Watts, MPH, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Bobby Watts has 30 years of experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health services, beginning as a live-in counselor at the New York City Rescue Mission. He spent most of his career prior to joining the Council at Care for the Homeless, which operates clinics and shelters and conducts policy analysis and advocacy in New York City.

HCH Community Experts


Kristie Hartig, MSN, RN, PHN, CWOCN
Topeka, KS

Erin Ryan, MSW, MPH
Senior Vice President, The Night Ministry
Chicago, IL

Return to main Experts Guide page


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