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Support Systems for Rural Homeless Youth Demonstration Fact Sheet

Published: May 4, 2012

This is a historical document. Use for research and reference purposes only.


The mission of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) is to support the organizations and communities that work every day to put an end to youth homelessness, adolescent pregnancy and domestic violence.


In the Fall of 2008, the Family and Youth Services Bureau launched its Support Systems for Rural Homeless Youth, or SSRHY, demonstration in three states, Colorado, Iowa, and Minnesota. The following year, three additional states -- Oklahoma, Nebraska and Vermont -- were added. The demonstration's purpose was to explore ways to improve the delivery of services and supports to youth in rural communities who have little or no connection to stable housing and family situations. This includes runaway and homeless youth as well as youth making unsuccessful transitions out of foster care.


In Section 302 (6) of the 2008 amendment to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, Congress found that "improved coordination and collaboration between the Federal Programs that serve runaway and homeless youth are necessary for the development of a long-term strategy for responding to the needs of this population." In response, the Family and Youth Services Bureau created the Support Systems for Rural Homeless Youth demonstration.

Demonstration Design

The overarching goal of the collaboration is to increase connections for youth in three critical areas of development:

  • Survival Support Services, including housing, healthcare, substance abuse, and/or mental health.
  • Community, including community service, youth and adult partnerships, mentoring, and peer support groups.
  • Education/Employment, including high schoo/GED completion, post-secondary education, employment, training, and/or jobs.

Major Themes

The demonstration is designed around several major themes:

State/Local Collaboration: The demonstration requires collaboration between the grantee states, a selected local collaborating partner in an identified rural community, and additional agencies or organizations that may be necessary in supporting the goals of the demonstration. The local collaborating partner must be a FYSB-funded organization that is providing services to rural youth in Transitional Living (TLP) and Independent Living Programs (ILP).

Positive Youth Development (PYD): Grantees must adhere to five key elements generally regarded as "core" components of PYD:

  • Healthy messages to adolescents about their bodies, their behaviors and their interactions
  • Safe and structured places for teens to study, recreate, and socialize
  • Strengthened relationships with adult role models, such as parents, mentors, coaches or community leaders and peers
  • Skill development in literacy, competence, work readiness and social skills
  • Opportunities to serve others and build self-esteem

Youth Leadership: The projects emphasize youth participation and leadership development in the planning, organization and implementation of all strategies and activities.

Learning Communities: FYSB views each local project as a "learning laboratory" from which the grantee states and communities will extract lessons about capacity-building and effective practices in the coordination and delivery of services to TLP and ILP young people in rural areas. Such lessons will be used to inform future policies and programs at the local, State and national levels.


The SSRHY demonstration has been constructed in two phases: a 1-year planning phase and a 4-year implementation phase. During the planning year, FYSB will work with state grantees, local collaborating partners and other key agencies and organizations to design an evaluation process that will enable grantees to periodically assess progress throughout the demonstration, culminating with a comprehensive, final evaluation to be completed in Year 5.

Grantee Cohort 1 - Project Period:  9/30/2008 to 9/29/2013

Colorado Department of Human Services
Bob Coulson, Adolescent Services Administrator
Colorado Dept. of Human Services
1575 Sherman Street, 2nd Flr
Denver, CO  80203
Phone: (303) 866-4706
Fax: (303) 866-5563
Email: Bob.Coulson@state.co.us                                          

Iowa Department of Human Services
Doug Wolfe, Program Planner
Iowa Dept. of Human Services
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa  50319
Phone: (515) 281-8164                                                    
Fax: (515) 281-6248
Email: dwolfe@dhs.state.ia.us

Minnesota Department of Human Services                                     
Beth Holger-Ambrose, Homeless Youth Services Coord.                             
Office of Economic Opportunity
PO Box 64962
St. Paul, MN  55164
Phone: (651) 431-3823                                                 
Fax: (651) 431-7509
Email: beth.holger@state.mn.us                                         

Grantee Cohort 2 - Project Period: 9/30/2009 to 9/29/2014

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services                 
Deanna Brakhage                            
301 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, NE  68509
Phone: (402) 471-9331                                                              
Fax: (402) 471-9034
Email: deanna.brakhage@nebraska.gov                     

Oklahoma Department of Human Services                                       
Marilyn Lanphier
P.O. Box 25352, 2400 North Lincoln
Oklahoma City, OK  73125
Phone: (405) 521-4364
Fax: (405) 521-4373
Email: marilyn.lanphier@okdhs.org

State of Vermont
Dana Lawrence
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT  05671
Phone: (802) 769-0111
Fax: (802) 241-2407
Email: dana.lawrence@state.vt.us

Contact Us

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth
5515 Security Lane, Suite 800, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Telephone:  (301) 608-8098
Fax:  (301) 587-4352

Email: ncfy@acf.hhs.gov

This is a historical document. Use for research and reference purposes only.
Last Reviewed: August 3, 2016

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