Advocacy & Community Awareness
Starting Right, Now performs extensive community outreach to raise awareness about young people facing life alone without the care of a reliable adult, and with no institutional safety-net. SRN has assisted in amending ten laws in Florida to reduce barriers faced by unaccompanied youth.
Legislation Co-Authored by SRN
Unaccompanied Youth can obtain their birth certificate, social security card and state ID without parental consent statewide;
Homeless Higher Education Tuition Waiver
Unaccompanied Youth ID Cards
Substance Abuse Services
Keys to Independence
Homelessness Supports at College
Coding "Homelessness" in College
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a memorandum clarifying that unaccompanied youth are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) independent of their family — SNAP – Clarification of Policies Barriers Facing Homeless Youth. Similarly the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have clarified the rights of unaccompanied homeless youth to obtain Medicaid coverage — Access to Health Services for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness. Further information about rights granted to unaccompanied youth in Florida can be found in the House of Representatives Staff Analysis on Homeless Youth.
SRN Founder and CEO, Vicki Sokolik, authored If You See Them: Young, Unhoused, and Alone in America, the remarkable story of her work on the frontlines advocating for unaccompanied homeless youth. If You See Them is a powerful examination of the issue of youth homelessness. An inspiring account of grassroots action and social justice, it also gives voice to the youth themselves, who tell their own stories.
“These unforgettable, deeply moving, all-too-true stories amount to an urgent call to action.” – Robert Kolker, author of New York Times bestseller Hidden Valley Road
“Helping traumatized teenagers with no homes or functional parents is hard, complicated, maddening work, but Vicki Sokolik won’t take no for an answer. Her zealous, sometimes maddening, but ultimately heroic persistence turns out to be just what it takes to overcome the defenses of her young clients and push them, struggling, into a better life.’ – Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning
In partnership with WEDU, SRN has produced a podcast, titled, “Raising Me,” on which students in their own words recount their struggles as unaccompanied homeless youth and explain the necessity of programs like SRN. “Raising Me” was a finalist for the 2021 National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) Public Media Awards.