A Way Home Washington

Washington state’s youth have a lifetime of potential. They will build tomorrow’s businesses, shape our public policies, and educate the next generation of children. In fact, a young person right here in Washington state might have a cure for cancer, or an idea that revolutionizes the way we do business. The opportunities are endless.

Youth advocates from The Mockingbird Society participating in a meeting on May 31, 2014. Advocates received feedback from experts on policy proposals to prevent youth and young adult homelessness.

Unfortunately, today, young people and their families face a number of barriers in reaching for these dreams—and many youth fall into homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless as a result. In fact, nearly 13,000 unaccompanied youth access homeless housing and support services each year in Washington. That’s equivalent to nearly a quarter of the state’s entire high school graduation class per year. These young people are separated from their families and need extra support to thrive.

If we don’t do something now, our next generation will struggle to reach their full potential—and all of us will be worse off. That’s because our young people represent who we all are as Washingtonians—nobody should be left out.

A Way Home Washington is a growing movement dedicated to ensuring these young people receive the support, care, and resources they need to overcome these barriers. We have one goal: preventing and ending youth homelessness in Washington state.

We do this through:

  • Awareness: We are committed to shedding light on the often overlooked reality of youth homelessness—changing perceptions about homelessness and helping draw attention to the problem at both a state and local community level.
  • Connection: We work with partners across Washington state to connect youth with stable housing and employment, education, and health services. By engaging on a local level, we also hope to connect communities with one another to discuss common barriers and solutions for ending youth homelessness.
  • Action: We know local communities are resourceful, innovative, and know their backyards better than anybody else. That’s why we are going deep in regions across Washington state—working with local partners to develop solutions that meet their unique needs and circumstances.

Working together, we can prevent and end youth homelessness and write a new future for Washington’s youth.

Building on Progress

There’s already great work happening all across Washington state. A new, innovative Office of Homeless Youth was established last year to help keep youth safe and housed. Yakima recently launched The Space, a first-of-its-kind resource center offering a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning young people. Cocoon House, a Snohomish County nonprofit that provides outreach, housing, and prevention services to homeless teens and their families, is expanding in order to better connect youth to services and increase the number of young people it serves.

A Way Home Washington is inspired by A Way Home Canada and  A Way Home America. Each of these national movements are creating innovative partnerships to prevent and end youth homelessness across North America. First Lady Trudi Inslee, a committed advocate for Washington youth, serves as honorary co-chair of the initiative with the Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness (YAEH) program at the Mockingbird Society. The YAEH program advocates bring valuable lived experience and youth perspective to the work of A Way Home Washington.

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