SCHOOLS could be used to teach students on how to not become homeless under a proposal from the Youth Affairs Council of WA.
Its Youth Homelessness Action Plan said more youth aged 10 to 15 were becoming homeless but there was a “clear gap” in meeting their needs.
Most WA youth crisis accommodation services were funded to cater only for youth aged 15 or over and others were unable to provide the support needed.
“By the time these young people are old enough to be eligible for services, their issues have become so entrenched or serious that they become much more difficult to support,” the plan said.
“Providing funding for services to young people of this demographic is a critical element of early intervention, giving young people the support required before issues become further entrenched.”
It has called for the introduction of school-based programs for homelessness prevention in areas that have an identified need.
The programs would identify young people at risk of becoming homeless and provide “collaborative intervention” in response to family conflict, which was cited as one of the main causes of youth homelessness.
A school-based program would also be developed to support hosts of “couch surfers” – young people who have left their home and are temporarily staying in someone else’s home.
These programs would aim to get young people into longer-term housing.
“If we invest early enough, we can break the cycle for young people before it manifests into chronic homelessness that becomes entrenched well into adulthood,” the plan said.
A 2017 review of youth homelessness for the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People said the role of organisations such as schools and health care providers in helping to prevent homelessness needed to be explored.
“It is cost effective to intervene early to support young people who have become independently homeless,” the review said.