Leahy: $200,000 Grant Will Continue Key Outreach Efforts For Vermont’s Runaway and Homeless Youths

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Congress’s leading champion of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, reports that a new $200,000 federal grant will enable the Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs (VCRHYP) to continue to help disconnected teens stay safe and healthy.

Each of Vermont’s 12 programs operate within its own community-based, nonprofit youth and family service organization. The Washington County Youth Service Bureau/Boys & Girls Club serves as the administrative agency for VCRHYP.  Through Leahy’s advocacy work as author of the updated charter for these programs, all 12 member programs will have access to program development and evaluation, public education, training, and data.  VCRHYP member programs serve an average of 1000 youths a year through three types of programs administered by the Bureau:  The Basic Center Program, which offers emergency shelter to runaway and homeless young people and works to reunite runaways with their families and resolve family problems; The Street Outreach Program, which trains teen Peer Outreach Workers to contact homeless youths on the streets and connect them to social services; and the Transitional Living Program, which helps homeless youths between the ages of 16 and 21 make successful transitions to independent adulthood through long-term housing, life skills training, advocacy and employment counseling.

Leahy said, “I applaud Kreig Pinkham and the Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs for their dedication to the vital mission of steering young lives onto constructive paths. When young people succeed, we all benefit.”  Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over these youth programs, and he is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which makes budget decisions about the programs.  

The grant was awarded through a federal program authorized under the Leahy-authored Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA).  In 2008 Leahy steered through Congress an updated charter for RHYA, which included the Basic Center Program within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Leahy also has long led in expanding and strengthening the Boys & Girls Club of America.  Both initiatives help keep children safe and out of trouble while offering them opportunities to grow, mature and become productive adult members of society.

In 2008 Leahy also succeeded in restoring vital funding to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that was set to be slashed for clubs in Brattleboro, Burlington, Washington County, White River Valley, Rutland City and Vergennes.

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