Social Challenges and Barriers


Statistically vulnerable youth are further victimized when confronted with the enormity of the injustices associated with social challenges and barriers.1


  •   The nonprofit organization Children’s Alliance believes that ending child poverty is a key to ensuring that every child can be safe, healthy, and has a real chance for success, which begins with addressing systematic and generational poverty issues for families of color.2
    • African-American children are more than three times as likely to be poor than white children.
    • Native American kids are nearly four times as likely to be poor.
    • The rate of poverty among Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino children is two to three times higher than among white children.
    • All policy priorities must directly or indirectly focus on eliminating poverty for all children and their families.
  •   Researchers have identified multiple risk factors related to vulnerable youth who experience poor outcomes as they enter adulthood. Those risk factors include.3
    • Youth emancipating from foster care.
    • Runaway and homeless youth.
    • Justice-involved youth.
    • Immigrant youth and youth with limited English proficiency.
    • Youth with physical and mental disabilities.
    • Youth receiving special education.
  •   Social science literature identifies multiple factors that have the potential of influencing whether youth face negative outcomes as they transition into adulthood.4
    • Poverty: the potential future issues associated with poverty can relate to chronic health conditions, low education attainment, and engaging in delinquent behaviors.
    • Family dysfunction: Particularly detrimental to the welfare of a child, family dysfunction might include witnessing violence in the home and criminal activities committed by family members.
    • Exposure to violence in the community: Risk factors associated with negative outcomes such as depression, aggressive behavior, and psychological trauma have been related to witnessing violence in a community.
    • Lack of school resources: Schools with fewer essential learning resources and materials are linked back to low academic achievements and outcomes.


  •  Continue working toward developing a statewide framework on identified and unidentified risk factors of vulnerable youth of color within a collaborative agreement across governmental and community-based organizational entities. A key component of any collaboration centered on a meaningful and culturally-relevant focus features connecting vulnerable justice-involved youth with responsible mentors and a community-related resource.

Examples of Regional Best Practices and Resources

Washington Courts – Vulnerable Youth Guardianship. The Department of Commerce compiled a resource list in nine different languages for youth considering this process. This service helps youth identify their rights and get assistance when needed.  

The Justice for Girls Coalition (JGC) vision is that Washington State is a leader in offering practices, programs, and policies tailored for girls facing adversity so they can overcome obstacles, access opportunities, and secure a purposeful future. JGC offers training for court and juvenile justice workers on girl-centered practices, trauma-informed care, etc. 

Created in 2015, the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs (OHY) leads the statewide efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness for youth and young adults through five priority service areas to ensure youth and young adults have stable housing, family reconciliation, permanent connections, education and employment, and social and emotional well-being.