This article looks at the problems of youth homelessness and running away, and analyses how the agencies who deal with these problems define them. Based on extensive research material, it presents three main findings. It illustrates that agencies appear to present the problems with which they deal to an outside audience, externally, in a number of different ways and that these statements do not depend solely on the characteristics of their clients. Instead, they also reflect the structure, purpose and resources of the involved agencies themselves. Additionally, however, agencies also appear to categorise their potential clients internally, in terms of who they can and cannot assist. To help reach these decisions, many of these organisations use a set of classifications linked to whether or not they perceive their potential clients to be deserving or undeserving. The paper concludes with the recognition that these labels are not in any way fixed. Rather, there are identifiable processes involved in these classifications.