Were you aware that 2/3 of adults experiencing homelessness have not received a high school diploma or completed a GED?

Homelessness Questions on the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Advocacy Needed

Next year’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) could generate the largest national pool of data on youth homelessness ever collected—but it won’t happen without advocacy.

For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has included two homelessness questions on its 2017 YRBS optional questionnaire. 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 survey monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults.

The CDC’s 2017 optional questionnaire includes two homelessness 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. The questions are available at

Over the past several years, twelve states or localities 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.

Since these questions are optional, they will not be included in the YRBS unless states and school districts choose to include them. We urge advocates to work with their state YRBS agency (either your state education or health department) and school district administrators to ensure the inclusion of the homelessness questions.

In April, NAEHCY held a webinar with information about how advocates have worked with state agencies to include homelessness questions and used the data to increase awareness and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness. That webinar is available at

For more information, please contact us: or (866) 862-2562

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