Homeless children and youth report that school is a home to them – a place where they see the same faces, sit in the same seat, and can put their hearts and minds into pursuits that ease their daily troubles. In school, students gain the skills and support needed to avoid poverty and homelessness as adults.

Press Release

CDC to Add New Questions on Youth Homelessness to School Survey:
Advocates Urge States and School Districts to Use Them

For Immediate Release: March 21, 2016
Contact: or (866) 862-2562

Washington – The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) today applauded the inclusion of new homelessness questions on the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administers the YRBS, which monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults. The YRBS includes a national school-based survey of high school students conducted every two years, as well as regional surveys in individual states and some school districts. The 2017 YRBS will include two new optional questions, designed by NAEHCY and the National Consortium on Homeless Youth and the YRBS, to measure the extent of homelessness among high school students and generate data about the relationship between homelessness and poor health and mental health. States and districts can elect to include the optional items in their locales.

"With more than 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness each year, these data are critically important to shape national and state responses to youth homelessness,” said Barbara Duffield, NAEHCY’s Director of Policy and Programs. “We urge states and school districts to include these questions in their 2017 YRBS so that policymakers, schools, and service providers have the information they need to take effective actions."

To date, twelve regions have included homelessness questions on the YRBS. These states and school districts have found much higher rates of homelessness than previously estimated, as well as important information about their health risks. For example, the inclusion of homelessness questions in the Philadelphia YRBS showed that youth experiencing homelessness reported significantly higher rates of victimization, substance abuse, binge drinking, and suicidality, information previously unknown.

The CDC’s inclusion of two homelessness questions for first time will allow for consistent, national data on the extent of youth homelessness and associated conditions.

“Homelessness occurs in the context of development,” said J. J. Cutuli, an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Rutgers University – Camden who studies resilience. “Unlike other methods, the YRBS acknowledges that youth differ from children and adults who experience homelessness. It meets youth where they are and makes it easier for them to share their experiences.”

The CDC will release the 2017 YRBS Questionnaire on July 1.  NAEHCY will host a webinar on April 22 to discuss how homelessness questions have made a difference in those states and localities that use them, and how to advocate to get the new questions on state or school district YRBS in 2017.

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national membership association dedicated to educational excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Our members work in public schools, state departments of education, early childhood programs, colleges and universities, and community organizations to support the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth, from early childhood through post-secondary education.

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Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
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