Feds to Spend $900,000 to Put 'LGBTQ' Teens in 'Transitional Living Programs'

July 3, 2013 - 3:56 PM

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This photo from the Carmel High School yearbook, as seen on Monday, June 3, 2013, in Carmel, N.Y., shows seniors Dylan Meehan and Brad Taylor. (AP Photo/Courtesy Carmel High School)

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Health and Human Services through its Administration for Children & Families plans to spend almost $1 million on “transitional living programs” for homeless lesbian, gay, lesbian, transgender and/or questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

“Each year in the United States, an estimated 1.6 million unaccompanied youth between the ages of 12 and 17 experience homelessness, which puts youth at a high risk for health, behavioral, and socioemotional problems compared to the general youth population,” ACF explained in its grant announcement.

“It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ,” the grant said. “This is disproportionate to the estimated percentage of LGBTQ youth in the general population, which is between 4 and 10 percent.”

Youth that identify as LGBTQ “are more likely to run away or be rejected by their family due to lack of acceptance of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” the grant said.

“Similar to the dangers homeless youth face, LGBTQ youth are frequently bullied and harassed and are more likely than their peers to experience a higher prevalence of dating violence and forced sexual intercourse,” the grant said.

“As a result, LGBTQ youth are more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts, personal safety issues, and lower academic achievement than their peers,” it added.

LGBTQ youth are “particularly vulnerable during episodes of homelessness,” because once homeless, they experience “higher rates of physical and sexual assault and higher incidences of unsafe sexual behaviors than non-LGBTQ homeless youth,” the grant said.

They also face the stigma of being a sexual minority, “which leaves them vulnerable to victimization, including criminal conduct against them,” the grant announcement said. “Further, homelessness for this population of youth may lead to higher prevalence of substance use and high rates of externalizing and internalizing behavior problems, which have been found among this population.”

“Although there is a growing body of research and information on runaway and homeless youth, there is a compelling need to do more to understand and build the capacity for RHY providers to better serve LGBTQ homeless youth,” the grant said.

“Efforts may include identifying innovative LGBTQ specific intervention strategies, determining culturally appropriate screening and assessment tools, learning of services and systems of support that respond to the needs of the LGBTQ youth, pinpointing the gaps in services, and better understanding the needs of LGBTQ youth served by Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) agencies,” the grant said.

CNSNews.com contacted Kenneth J. Wolfe, deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Administration for Children and Families, to find out the age range of LGBTQ youth who will be helped by the grant, but was instead referred to the funding opportunity announcement.

However, according to the Family and Youth Services Bureau website, “FYSB’s Transitional Living Program supports projects that provide long-term residential services to homeless youth ages 16-22” and are “designed to help young people who are homeless make a successful transition to self-sufficient living.”

“Transitional living programs are required to provide youth with stable, safe living accommodations, and services that help them develop the skills necessary to become independent. Living accommodations may include host-family homes, group homes, maternity group homes, or supervised apartments owned by the program or rented in the community,” the FYSB website said.

According to the FYSB website, transitional living program grantees are required to offer or refer a variety of services, including providing them with “safe, stable living accommodations.”

It also helps them with “basic life-skill building,” including consumer education, budgeting, the use of credit, housekeeping, meal planning, food preparation, parenting skills; interpersonal skill building, including how to manage stress, establish positive relationships with peers and adults, and decision-making; and educational opportunities, such as GED preparation, postsecondary training and vocational education.

They are also required to help with or refer them to services for job preparation, attainment and placement, career counseling, substance abuse treatment, individual and group counseling, and physical health care including routine physicals, health assessments and emergency treatment.

ACF will pay at least $100,000 and up to $300,000 a year to one grant recipient. The total amount ACF expects to spend on the program is $900,000, so the potential grant recipient would receive up to $300,000 every year for three years.

The grant was announced on June 14, and the closing date for applications is Aug. 13.