Basic Center Program Fact Sheet

Basic Center Program Fact Sheet


Learn about FYSB's Basic Center Program.

Issue History

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, passed in 1974, authorized the Basic Center Program (BCP), which enables community-based organizations to operate short-term, emergency shelters to provide crisis care to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) not already receiving services from the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. Today, FYSB funds the BCP under provisions of the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-378).

Program History

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FYSB’s Basic Center Program (BCP) works to establish or strengthen community-based programs that meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families. The programs provide youth up to age 18 with emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling, and referrals for health care. BCPs can provide up to 21 days of shelter for up to 20 youth and help reunite young people with their families, whenever possible.


They also help locate alternative placements, when appropriate.In addition to emergency shelter, many BCPs provide out-of¬-shelter services, including street-based services and home-based services for families with youth at risk of separation from their families. There are exceptions for jurisdictions that have different licensing standards. In 2018, BCPs provided emergency shelter for more than 20,800 youth and prevention services for an additional 7,700 young people.



Although slight differences exist from one program to the next, all BCPs must offer the following types of assistance to young people and their families:

  • Food, clothing, medical care, and other services that youth need (offered either directly or by referral)
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Recreation programs
  • Education and employment assistance
  • Outreach to youth who may need assistance, as well as to public and private agencies that work with youth and families
  • Aftercare services for youth following their stay at a shelter

In addition, FYSB requires projects to develop an adequate emergency preparedness and management plan and to use a trauma-informed approach that involves understanding and responding to the symptoms of chronic, interpersonal trauma and traumatic stress, as well as the behavioral and mental health consequences of trauma. Additionally, projects are required to incorporate elements of the Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach into their programs. PYD suggests that the best way to reduce risk and trauma is to help young people achieve their full potential. Youth development strategies focus on giving young people the chance to exercise leadership, build skills, and become involved in their communities.

Grant Award Process

FYSB funds the Basic Center Program under the provisions of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-415), most recently reauthorized by the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law No: 115-385). As of FY2020, FYSB funds 223 Basic Center grantee programs totaling more than $56 million.

FYSB solicits applications for the Basic Center Program by posting funding announcements on Visit disclaimer page and the funding page for the National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families. Applications are competitively reviewed, and successful applicants receive three-year grants.

Contact Us

National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth & Families Visit disclaimer page
4340 East-West Highway, Suite 1100

Bethesda, MD 20814

Toll-free phone: 833-GET-RHYi (833-438-7494)
Fax:  301-828-1506

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