Lawmakers Seek to Mandate Report on Runaway & Homeless Youth

UPDATED 5:57 p.m.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) are seeking to mandate a periodic report on the prevalence of runaway and homeless youth.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would submit the report to Congress every five years. The report would include population estimates for homeless and runaway individuals aged 13 to 25, and HHS would analyze the demographic's obstacles to finding housing and healthcare, interviewing sample groups as part of its research.

Yarmuth and the senators have included the mandate in bills to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The first report would come no less than two years after Congress passes the legislation.

According to Leahy spokeswoman Erica Chabot, a 2002 appropriations bill mandated that HHS develop methods for testing incidents of youth homelessness, but a study was never conducted.