Spotlight: Serving Transition Age Youth
PATH programs can improve services to transition age youth and young adults by assertively ensuring that their services are provided in a manner that is respectful, informed, and safe. While most PATH programs are not designed specially to serve young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years, youth are often served alongside adults in PATH programs. It is important to recognize their unique needs, and that integrating transitioning youth back into mainstream resources and housing can prevent them from being homeless as adults.
The PATH program reports age in clusters. Transition age youth fall into one of two clusters: 13 to 17 or 18 to 34 years old. This data collection method makes it difficult to determine the exact number of transition age youth served by PATH programs. Regardless, youth use “adult” PATH services, and some PATH programs specifically target older youth. Several programs use PATH funds specifically to serve youth in transition.
Outreach is a key component of the PATH program and is an effective strategy to reach youth who are disconnected from services. Outreach methods range from street rounds to referral driven outreach. In referral driven outreach, teachers, residential programs, and probation officers, among others, connect youth with outreach workers. Referral driven outreach is particularly useful for programs in rural communities where outreach workers are responsible for large geographic areas.
Once the outreach relationship is established, effective assistance to youth can be provided by ensuring that safe and appropriate referrals are made to resources and services. PATH programs serving youth, especially programs that do not focus primarily on this group, can build relationships and partner with other youth service providers in the community to establish a referral network. Referrals to youth programs are particularly important for transition age youth because these individuals are just beginning to learn how to navigate the service system and may be unaware of available services.
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