Youth REACH MD (Reach out, Engage, Assist, & Count to end Homelessness) is Maryland’s effort to better understand the number, characteristics, and needs of youth and young adults who are on their own and struggling with housing to improve the ways we can help.
You can learn more about this project and why it is so important from some of the researchers and youth involved in the video below:
Youth REACH MD goes beyond a youth count, by not only improving understanding of the prevalence of homelessness among Maryland’s youth and young adults, but also improves understanding of the current support system available for youth experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and is developing an efficient and consistent mechanism through which the scope of youth and young adult homelessness in Maryland can be tracked over time.
The Project is modeled on the federal Youth Count! Initiative and implements a 2013 recommendation of Maryland’s Task Force to Study Housing and Supportive Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, which stated that reliable data about unaccompanied homeless youth is necessary to develop effective interventions, appropriately allocate resources, and track progress toward reducing and ultimately ending youth homelessness.
Through two pilot surveys of unaccompanied homeless youth, Youth REACH MD has produced two reports on the number, characteristics, and needs of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness in Maryland, and is developing a toolkit for all Maryland jurisdictions to monitor the scope of youth and young adult homelessness going forward.
This effort complements the work being done by Maryland’s Interagency Council on Homelessness; Thrive@25, Maryland’s initiative to end homelessness for youth with foster care histories on the Eastern Shore; and the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Ending Homelessness. Youth REACH MD is also aligned with a larger national effort to end youth homelessness in the United States by 2020 and the Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative.
To support Maryland in ending and preventing homelessness for youth and young adults by
- Engaging youth, young adults, local community members, and federal, state and local constituencies in preventing and ending youth homelessness through participation in the design and implementation of the Demonstration Youth Count and the associated policy and evaluation activities;
- Conducting an effective Youth Count as an ongoing way for federal, state and local constituencies to track progress in understanding and meeting the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults that will result in programmatic, budgetary, and policy changes to end and prevent youth homelessness; and,
- Incorporating housing and homeless services and programs into the multi-agency data collaborative at the University of Maryland to provide quality, up-to-date, longitudinal data and information related to overall program efficiency and effectiveness in serving the children, youth, and families of Maryland.
Youth REACH MD was established by the Maryland General Assembly as part of the 2014 legislative session under Chapter 425 (House Bill 794).
In the fall of 2015, Maryland made its first attempt to quantify the number of youth experiencing homeless in the State, conducting its first Youth REACH demonstration count and survey to identify the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults who were not with a parent or guardian and did not have a fixed, stable, permanent place to call home. Eight counties participated in the initial survey effort.
This first count found 834 unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness across the participating counties. This was significantly more than had been identified previously. Results were published in the Youth REACH Phase II Report in May 2016.
Youth REACH MD revised its methods from the first demonstration count and expanding to 17 counties for a second demonstration count in the spring of 2017. The second Youth Count found 865 unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness across the participating counties. Combining these findings with data from local homeless service providers increased this number to 2,425.
Youth REACH MD is continuing to expand across Maryland, conducting another annual Youth Count in the spring of 2018 across 20 of Maryland’s 24 Counties. Each year, Youth Count strategies and tools to connect with and support youth will be improved and annual reports will be provided to monitor the scope of youth and young adult homelessness over time. Youth REACH MD also supports participating jurisdictions in the use of local Youth Count results to help improve local resources and supports for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
Lead Government Agency: Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
Coordinating Entity: The Institute for Innovation & Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work (The Institute)
Local Implementing Entities: Participating Continuums of Care (CoCs). A CoC is a county or regional planning body comprised of local nonprofit organizations and government entities who work together to coordinate funding and services for those experiencing homelessness in their area. They are federally mandated to track and monitor homelessness in their area.
Want to know more?
Email Carrie Gould-Kabler at