Street Outreach Program

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In the United States, an estimated 1.6 to 2.8 million young people run away from home each year.[1] Once on the streets, such youth are at risk of being sexually exploited or abused.[2] To provide homeless youth with services that help them leave the streets, the United States Congress established the Education and Prevention Services to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway, Homeless, and Street Youth Program (more commonly known as the Street Outreach Program) through the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.[2] Today, the Street Outreach Program is authorized through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 2003.[3] It is administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Street outreach workers respond to street youths’ immediate needs for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.[4] They also carry with them items to hand out to street youth, including first aid kits, healthy snacks, water, blankets, clothing like underwear and outerwear to protect against the weather, condoms, flashlights, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, sewing kits, self-care kits for common illnesses, cards with emergency phone numbers, resource lists of homeless shelters, food pantries and free medical facilities, and legal aid information cards.[5]

Outreach workers may also act as counselors if, through the relationships they build, the youth begin to open up and share their reasons for living on the street. If the youth is a runaway, outreach workers can help the youth communicate with family and return home, if appropriate; if not, an outreach worker can help a young person find a more stable living situation.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Runaway Switchboard
  2. ^ a b Street Outreach Program fact sheet
  3. ^ Text of this legislation can be located here
  4. ^ Able-Peterson, T. & Hooks Wayman, R. A. (2006). StreetWorks: Best practices and standards in outreach methodology to homeless youth. Minneapolis, MN: Freeport West.
  5. ^ a b The Exchange, Street Outreach Programs Reach Out to Youth With Diverse Needs, July 2007

External links[edit]