Joette Katz, Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families
On behalf of the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families, I offer this letter of support for the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014.
DCF serves Connecticut’s most vulnerable families and at-risk youth through our consolidated statutory mandate across child welfare/protective services, juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse and prevention services. Currently, over 4,00 children are placed in the care and custody of DCF. Of these, 973 are children and youth over the age of 13 with a permanency goal of Alternative Planned Permanency Living Arrangement (APPLA). These children and youth are at greatest risk of homelessness after transitioning out of foster care because they do not have permanent connections to family and other resources such as stable housing.
Through DCF’s Re-Entry Services Program, DCF has begun collecting data on former foster care youth who are homeless. Since June 2013, according to our data there have been 59 identified homeless youth requesting to re-enter care, primarily for housing purposes. These youth have reported experiencing an array of adverse events including unemployment, engaging in survival sex, and being sexually trafficked. A lack of stable housing puts these youth at extreme high risk for all of these experiences.
DCF has begun to address the issues of homeless youth by directly working with former homeless youth, in collaboration with other state agencies and community providers to develop a Homeless Youth Policy aimed at former DCF committed youth who are transitioning from our care. We recognize the need for continued attention and advocacy around unstable housing options for this populations and want to support your efforts. For these reasons, DCF supports the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014, as it will play an integral role in our continued efforts to advocate on behalf of these children and youth.”