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Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System Fact Sheet

Overview

The Family and Youth Services Bureau’s (FYSB’s) Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) is an automated information tool designed to capture data on the runaway and homeless youth being served by FYSB’s Basic Center Program and Transitional Living Program for Older Homeless Youth (TLP). RHYMIS also captures information on the contacts made by the Street Outreach Program grantees and the brief service contacts made with youth or families calling the FYSB programs. FYSB developed RHYMIS

  • Collect data on the number of runaway and homeless youth being served by its grantee programs and obtain demographic information on those youth and information on the types of services being offered by the programs, for reporting to Congress and Executive Branch authorities.

  • Gather data that FYSB can use to explore regional trends in youth issues and improve service delivery.

  • Provide FYSB grantee agencies an automated way to gather, store, and report consistent information on youth to whom they provide services. Local program staff use that information to carry out organizational planning, develop funding proposals, and educate their local communities about the needs of runaway and homeless youth.

History

When Congress authorized FYSB to implement a national reporting system through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, the Bureau encouraged FYSB

Subsequently, FYSB awarded a contract to develop and test an automated national management information system. Under the contract, the project team developed key elements of a new system, including new data collection forms, data definitions, and
training materials for using the system. Throughout this development process, FYSB worked closely with runaway and homeless youth service providers to solicit their input on the system’s design.

In 2001, FYSB reengineered RHYMIS to enhance data reporting and to reduce the data collection burden on the grantees. The new system has many fewer data elements and definitions but does include two new data collection categories: (1) contacts made by the Street Outreach Program grantees with youth living on the streets, and (2) “brief service contacts” made with youth and families calling the Basic Centers. Known as RHYMIS LITE, the streamlined instrument was a more efficient system. Additionally, grantee utilization of RHYMIS since “RHYMIS-LITE” was introduced, has increased from as low as 45% to a consistent, virtually 100% level of compliance.

In 2004, FYSB released an updated version of the software called NEO-RHYMIS. A number of less critical questions were removed and several important new questions were added. Otherwise, the user-friendly features of RHYMIS have changed little.

Through RHYMIS and its updates, FYSB is able to collect and report information on the young people served by its grantee agencies, including youth demographics, services provided, and youth status at exit from the FYSB’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. FYSB shares the data collected through RHYMIS with other Federal offices in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and ACF Regional Offices throughout the United States, as well as grantees, researchers, and other federal youth-serving agencies.

RHYMIS data are cited in FYSB's Reports to Congress, in annual performance reports required by the Government Performance and Results Act, in hearings and testimony, and in reports by others interested in youth issues, such as the media, national resource organizations, and researchers. Many FYSB grantees also share RHYMIS data locally with State or municipal agencies, funding sources, legislative authorities, advocates, and others who care about young people.


 
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