Children and Teens Experiencing Homelessness
Summary of Recent Changes
- Added information about COVID-19 vaccination for children and teens between 12 and 18 years of age experiencing homelessness
- Updated guidance for children and teens experiencing homelessness who are fully vaccinated
- Updated guidance for children and teens experiencing homelessness who are not fully vaccinated
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon you can if you are 12 years or older.
- Wear a mask when staying in a shelter, even if you are fully vaccinated.
- Wear a mask and avoid crowds when possible if you are not fully vaccinated.
- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have been around someone who has COVID-19, even if you are not experiencing symptoms.
- Stay connected with counselors, case workers, and hotlines for help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is caused by a virus that is mainly spread from person to person. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it. This virus has made many people sick.
How to Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19
Here’s what you need to know to help protect yourself and people you care about from COVID-19.
- Stay in touch with your case workers, group home staff, or shelter staff. They can help you understand what’s happening with COVID-19 in your community.
- Get vaccinated as soon as you can if you are 12 years or older. You can talk to your case workers, group home staff, or shelter staff to help you find a vaccine near your location. You can also search on your own: Find a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Get consent if you live in a state that requires a parent or legal guardian to give you permission to get the vaccine. You can talk to your case workers, group home staff, or shelter staff to find out if you need consent and how to get it.
If you are fully vaccinated:
- You are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or 2 weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.Find out what you can do after you are fully vaccinated.
- If you are staying in a shelter or other group home, wear a mask any time you are not in your room or on your bed/mat (in shared sleeping areas). See How to Wear Masks for more information.
If you are not fully vaccinated:
- Wear a mask when indoors and when staying in a shelter. If you need to remove your mask, stay at least 2 arm lengths (6 feet) from other people.
- When outdoors, stay 6 feet from other people. If you can’t do that, wear a mask.
- Avoid hanging out in groups when possible.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19
- You can get sick from other people who are sick, so try to stay away from them as much as possible. Let a case worker or shelter staff know if you or others are sick and may need a doctor.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If you don’t have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
If you get sick
- Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, a hard time breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. If you have any of these symptoms, let someone (like a case worker) know so you can get help, if needed.
- If your symptoms get worse (like you have trouble breathing or pain/pressure in your chest, confusion or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone), call 911 or get immediate help from a doctor or medical professional.
- Stay away from other people as much as possible.
- Whenever you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash, and wash hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Continue to wear a mask when you are around other people.
- Ask for help from case workers, group home staff, or shelter staff to find a safe place to stay while you get better.
Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally
Stay connected even if you have to be apart.
- If you feel sad, lonely, scared, or anxious, reach out for help from a counselor or case worker or call the youth homelessness hotline at: 1-888-373-7888.
- Reach out to your family, friends, and case workers on the phone or online if possible.
- Use a buddy system to make sure you and your friends are safe.
- Be aware that there might be changes in locations or hours of operation for food, housing, mental health, substance use, and healthcare services.
Need help? Know someone who does?
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:
Disaster Distress Helpline: call or text 1-800-985-5990
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Lifeline Crisis Chat
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224