Gov. Kathy Hochul has directed state landmarks be illuminated in green tonight, Nov. 16, to mark New York’s participation in raising awareness for National Runaway Prevention Month. The public awareness campaign aims to shine a light on the experiences of youth who have run away or are experiencing homelessness and highlight resources available to assist these youth.
“Each year, thousands of New York's youth run away from home or experience homelessness,” Hochul said. “In some instances, youth are trying to escape abuse, neglect or conflict in their homes. As a mother, I know just how important it is for young people to have a stable environment to support their physical, emotional and mental health. I am committed to helping them find homes and living spaces that can facilitate their positive development.”
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), through its Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success (YDAPS), supports a broad range of services to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and young adults as part of OCFS's mission to promote the safety, permanency and well-being of New York's children, families and communities.
Self-report data from certified residential programs reflects that, in 2022, 4,385 runaway and homeless youth were admitted to residential programs throughout the state. Crisis services programs assisted 2,685 runaway or homeless youth, plus 54 dependents; and 928 homeless youth, plus 61 dependents, were admitted to transitional independent living programs.
In August, Hochul announced $38.6 million in state funding was awarded to several projects that will provide permanent supportive housing to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Supported through the state's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, these projects include developments that will create an additional 410 units serving the elderly, individuals with a history of substance use disorder, individuals with developmental disabilities, young adults and those suffering from serious mental illness.
Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “OCFS is proud to take a leadership role in reaching out to our vulnerable young people in crisis. Our runaway and homeless youth services are grounded in positive youth development that focuses on supporting and developing healthy relationships, enhancing youth’s existing strengths and resiliency, and incorporating youth voices and leadership in programming. Because housing instability can impact anyone, programs and policies are most responsive when they are inclusive of all youth, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender identify, sexual orientation, or other experience.”
Earlier this year, representatives from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Missing Persons Clearinghouse, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, and Human Trafficking Prevention joined OCFS and other national, state and local agencies and non-governmental organizations to establish the state’s Runaway Intervention Working Group. The newly formed group aims to reduce runaway episodes, address the needs of high-risk youth who have multiple missing episodes, and develop a pilot program with a multidisciplinary approach to better assist youth who repeatedly go missing.
Nov. 16 is Wear Green Day for National Runaway Prevention. The state landmarks to be illuminated in green to mark New York’s participation in National Runaway Prevention Month include:
The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York's public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families and communities. The agency provides a system of family support, juvenile justice, youth development, child care and child welfare services, and is responsible for programs and services involving foster care, adoption and adoption assistance, child protective services, preventive services for children and families, and protective programs for vulnerable adults.
The clearinghouse provides assistance to law enforcement agencies handling cases involving children, college students and vulnerable adults who have gone missing. Clearinghouse staff members have extensive experience in law enforcement, training and information technology, and provide investigative support to local, state and national law enforcement, assistance to left-behind family members and community education programs. The clearinghouse also accepts leads and tips about missing persons cases it has permission to publicize at [email protected] and 800-346-3543.