12:17 AM EDT

Jon Porter, R-NV 3rd

Mr. PORTER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 805) supporting efforts to promote greater public awareness of effective runaway youth prevention programs and the need for safe and productive alternatives, resources, and supports for youth in high-risk situations.

12:17 AM EDT

Jon Porter, R-NV 3rd

Mr. PORTER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 805) supporting efforts to promote greater public awareness of effective runaway youth prevention programs and the need for safe and productive alternatives, resources, and supports for youth in high-risk situations.

12:18 AM EDT

Jon Porter, R-NV 3rd

Mr. PORTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of H. Res. 805 which seeks to promote greater public awareness of effective runaway youth prevention programs and the need for safe and productive alternatives, resources and supports for youth in high-risk situations. I would like to thank the leadership for allowing this resolution to come to the House floor as it highlights a very tragic and important issue.

Runaway and thrownaway episodes among our Nation's youth are serious and widespread, with one out of every seven children and youth in the United States running away or being turned [Page: H8327]

out of the home before the age of 18. A recent study by the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimates that nearly 1.7 million youth experienced a runaway or thrownaway episode in a single year. The prevalence of runaway and homeless youth in

the Nation is astounding, with studies suggesting that between 1.6 million and 2.8 million young people live on the streets of the United States each year. The primary factors of running away or being thrown away are severe family conflict, abuse and neglect, and parental abuse of alcohol and drugs.

In the district that I represent in southern Nevada, the statistics are similar. In the year 2003, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported 4,527 runaways. There were approximately 3,500 children who required emergency shelter. 1,800 of these children were placed in foster care. In addition to that, the Clark County School District reported that 3,011 of our students were homeless. These astonishing statistics highlight the need for our support of those important programs that seek

to prevent these types of incidents.

Many of the conditions that lead young people to leave or be turned out of their homes are preventable through interventions that can strengthen families and support youth in high-risk situations. Successful interventions are grounded in partnerships among families, community-based human service agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, faith-based organizations and businesses.

The National Network For Youth and the National Runaway Switchboard have collaborated since 2002 in cosponsoring National Runaway Prevention Month during the month of November. National Runaway Prevention Month is a public education initiative aimed at increasing the awareness of issues facing runaways as well as making the public aware of the role they play in preventing youth from running away. As a result of this collaboration, communities across the country have undertaken a range of activities

to commemorate National Runaway Prevention Month.

Preventing young people from running away and supporting youth in high-risk situations is a family, community and national concern. Please join us in encouraging all Americans to play a role in supporting the millions of young people who have run away and who are at risk of doing so each year. H.R. 805 supports efforts to promote greater public awareness of effective runaway youth prevention programs and the need for safe and productive alternatives, resources and supports for youth in high-risk

situations.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:21 AM EDT

Dale E. Kildee, D-MI 5th

Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution. H. Res. 805 promotes the need for greater public awareness of effective runaway youth prevention programs and the increasing need for safe and productive alternatives, resources and supports for youth in high-risk situations.

Mr. Speaker, let me first applaud the hard work of the front line workers who are on the ground working with runaway and homeless youth every day. For many youth, these workers represent the only responsible and caring adults they will have contact with during their time on the streets. Many of these workers are volunteers who make themselves available 24 hours a day. They venture into dangerous situations, providing a lifeline to these young people. They should be acknowledged for their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, the youth who come to these programs represent a lost generation. Most of them are not runaways. They have been thrown away, thrown away by their parents and by society. When they come to these programs, they do so out of a need for security, shelter and comfort they cannot find at home. These programs provide that comfort. They provide basic life skills, training, job preparation and placement, health referrals and services.

As of this fall, youth who visit these programs will be automatically eligible for school nutrition programs and will be able to receive meals and snacks through shelter programs. The reauthorization of child nutrition programs enacted this summer made this possible and ensures that these youth can get a nutritious meal even if they are on the street. Nearly 150,000 youth are served at basic centers and through transitional living programs. Yet as this resolution points out, many more runaways

and homeless youth find themselves without these critical community services.

It is appropriate, Mr. Speaker, that Congress take time out to promote greater public awareness of the needs of these young people and the services that are available to them in the community.

In closing, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:24 AM EDT

Phil Gingrey MD, R-GA 11th

Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Nevada and the gentleman from Michigan for introducing House Resolution 805 to bring awareness and express support for runaway youth prevention programs. As the author of H.R. 1925, the Runaway, Homeless, and Missing Children Protection Act, which was signed into law by President Bush almost a year ago today, I believe it is important to protect our children from early tragedy. As some of my colleagues may remember, H.R. 1925 reauthorizes

and amends the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and the Missing Children's Assistance Act and extends the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children and other program activities annual funding through the year 2008.

As an OB/GYN physician for almost 30 years and as a legislator, I have made it a priority to protect and defend children. The future well-being of the Nation is dependent on the value placed on young people and the opportunities provided for youth to acquire the knowledge, the skills and the abilities necessary to develop into safe, healthy and productive adults. I care about the safety of all youth and I want to end the vicious cycle that creates broken families and unwanted children.

With statistics indicating that one out of seven children run away from home before the age of 18, I believe we need to work to promote and encourage organizations that help children vacate dangerous homes and prevent others from making hasty and, oftentimes, unsafe decisions to leave.

Mr. Speaker, with November being National Runaway Prevention Month, I believe it is important for Congress to recognize effective runaway youth prevention programs so we can save lives and prevent tragedy. National Runaway Prevention Month will educate young people about the risks associated with running away from home and the resources available to them should they run away or be expelled from home. During the month of November, communities across the country will sponsor activities to celebrate

National Runaway Prevention Month. Planned activities include inviting lawmakers, media, community leaders and others to visit programs that serve youth, organizing community service events and developing materials and presentations to educate youth, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, businesses and other community members about local resources available to youths in crisis.

With the future well-being of our children at stake, I ask my colleagues to pass this resolution and support National Runaway Prevention Month.