Homeless youth services in the US do not usually consider the youth's family as a resource. Despite the fact that family rejection and conflict are among the major drivers of homelessness among youth and especially among LGBTQ youth, there is a considerable gap in services aimed at reuniting families and building support and acceptance. More than 40 percent of agencies responding to the LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey do not offer programming that addresses family conflict.

Family strengthening uses mediation as well as family and individual counseling to resolve disputes between youth and their families, while also reaching out to extended family members, including chosen family, outside the youth's own household who may be able to provide care and accommodation. Family strengthening repairs family bonds that continue to exist even while the youth has left the home.

Family strengthening works. Indeed, Depaul UK’s Family Reconnection program prevented homelessness in 82% of clients who were referred in 2009, and in a considerable number of cases only three mediation sessions were required to repair the family relationship. Leading policy researchers have championed family strengthening as a critically important measure for preventing youth homelessness, particularly among the large fraction of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ.

Listen to Jean Malpas speak about how to talk to families about gender and engage families with trans youth.


Watch more Family & Kinship Strengthening videos below:

We’re Learning About Family Reconnection in LA / Simon Costello

The Role of Family and Kinship Strengthening / Ben Davis

Family Reconnection in Action in Canada / Justin Sage-Passant