NAEHCY Legislative Update!

NAEHCY Legislative Alert
GAO Releases New Report:

“Actions Needed to Improve Federal Financial Assistance for Homeless and Foster Youth”

Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the challenges and barriers affecting the ability of homeless and foster youth to pursue a college education.

GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO reports often are used by Members of Congress and federal agencies in crafting policy and legislation.

GAO analyzed the most recently available federal education data—two enrollment data sets, for 2011-2012 and 2013-2014, and data on college completion from 2009; reviewed relevant federal laws and guidance; interviewed officials from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as external groups knowledgeable about higher education, foster youth, and homelessness; and held discussion groups with foster and homeless youth.

Among the report’s findings are:

Burdensome program rules can hinder the ability of homeless and foster youth to access federal supports.
Extensive documentation requests can impede access to aid for homeless youth.
Annual re-verification of homelessness poses barriers for unaccompanied homeless youth.
Limited academic preparation, family support, and awareness of resources make it harder for homeless and foster youth to pursue college.
Age eligibility rules hinder some foster youths’ access to Chafee Education and Training Vouchers.
Data show foster youth complete college to a lesser extent than other students, while little is known about college outcomes for homeless youth.

GAO makes six recommendations to ED and HHS to improve homeless and foster youths’ access to financial assistance for college, including clarifying ED guidance, considering legislative proposals to simplify requirements for federal programs for homeless and foster youth, and centralizing college information for these youth on ED’s website.

To read the full report, visit:  GAO report

To learn more about NAEHCY’s Higher Education Initiative, visit: Higher Education Reources

New Research Report on Survivial Sex on the Streets

The Urban Institute has released “Surviving on the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW engaged in Survival Sex” February 2015

This 88 page report was funded by the Office of Juvenile, Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs and the US Department of Justice.

In 2011, researchers from the Urban Institute launched a 3 year study of participation in survival sex by teens and young adults.

While not all homeless Unaccompanied Youth have to resort to this for survival, here are a few salient facts from the research:

Over half of youth (54 percent) used their earnings to buy food as their first priority. Thirty-six percent bought clothing as their first priority, 21 percent paid their cell phone bills, 16 percent bought marijuana, 13 percent bought cigarettes, and 10 percent bought toiletries or necessities.

Of the 43 youths in an exploitative situation, 34 percent met their exploiter through a friend or peer, 27 percent on the street, 20 percent through a family member, and 16 percent in their neighborhood or at service provider facilities.

More than 8 in 10 youth (82 percent) sayouthid there were positive things about engaging in survival sex—with most of these 225 respondents citing income (68 percent) or the fact that trading sex helped fulfill their basic needs for food and shelter (25 percent).

LGBTQ youths’ past experiences are drivers for their current situations. These experiences include racism; family poverty; homelessness and its associated stigma; lack of adequate or safe housing options; lack of access to gender-affirming medical care; and rejection and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by families, communities, and employers.

What we can glean from these statistics is that many of the young people who are engaging in survival sex are homeless in their hometown: they do not have a familial support system or normative social capital they can rely on to help them through a difficult time.

Click here to read the full report.



Madison Teachers Inc. raises over $10,000 for the Youth Shelter!


Sunday April 12, 2015, teachers, administrators, school board members,  state representatives and community partners bowled and raised money for the Briarpatch Shelter.

Briarpatch hopes to open the shelter in the fall, it’s badly needed and the rooms have been sitting empty for over year.    :(

Click here for a news link about the event: MTI Bowl-A-Thon April 2015

Transitional Housing for Young Adults!


In September 2014, after a year of planning by several collaborators including MRFY, Briarpatch Youth Services, Operation Fresh Start and Madison Community Cooperatives and Dane County opened the first transitional living program in our area which provides services specifically to 18 -21 year old individuals who have been homeless.

In the recent months residents and case managers have worked together to create a community, their chosen name is “Golden Eye”!

Click here for more information!


MFRY film wins a second National Award!

photo (2)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                
Date: November 4, 2013
For more information contact:
State Representative Melissa Sargent: 608-266-0960 or
Casey Behrend, Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin: 608.245.2550 x1212

Madison Youth Homelessness Film Wins National Award

November is National Runaway Prevention Month

MADISON, WI – The locally produced film “Make Room For Youth” has received the 2013 Best Targeted Campaign Award from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY).  The film features Madison area homeless youth and local service providers like Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin.

Named after the Madison grassroots group, Make Room For Youth, or MRFY, the film draws attention to the growing problem of youth homelessness in our area.  MRFY is a coalition of service providers, local leaders, and volunteers who came together to advocate for the needs of runaway and homeless youth.

The film features youth from Dane County who share their experiences about being homeless.  Tyler Schueffner, Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin’s Street Outreach Program Coordinator, provides narration on the state of homeless youth in our area.  The film was produced with the volunteer services of Will Nimmow from the Madison Media Institute.

“Youth homelessness is an enormous problem in our area, but it’s a problem that often goes unseen,” says Mr. Schueffner, “November is National Runaway Prevention month, and hopefully this film and the national recognition it is receiving will help draw more attention to this important issue.”

Representative Melissa Sargent, a founding member of MRFY, stated, “The film by Will Nimmow provides an insightful window into the lives of our homeless youth.  Adding the human voice to an often unseen population is sure to bring additional and necessary conversations to address this tragedy in our community”.

Members of MRFY are currently in Atlanta, Georgia to receive the award.  A trailer for the film can be viewed at: or

Youth that are runaway, homeless, or in need of counseling can contact the Briarpatch Runaway & Homeless Youth Program at Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin: 608.251.1126800.798.1126 (toll-free) or

NAEHCY Best Targeted Campaign Award 2013

NAEHCY Best Targeted Campaign Award 2013

Survival Backpacks

MRFY continues to be humbled by the willingness of good people to help out. We received seriously amazing “survival” backpacks last week. These were put together by many faith communities for the Who We Are writing project. Participants each received back packs the day of the event at UW Union South. MRFY is helping to distribute the remainders.  Real tough, high school-sized back packs stuffed with the essentials: protein bars, warm socks, gloves, note books, alarm clock etc. THANK YOU Bonnie Magnuson and Becky Schigiel, and all of the other contributing congregations.




The first one was given to a young man who spent the night riding the buses all night for lack of another option. He said “that’s so nice of people to do this” he was very touched and says “thank you”.