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State Highlights

Alabama has moved the needle relative to other states in addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state has extended foster care to age 21 and allows young adults under 21 to opt back into services after exiting if needed. 
  • The state explicitly allows partial and alternative school credit accrual for homeless youth through regulations. 
  • State law provides partial or full contract rights for youth experiencing homelessness.

Systems

Systems

  • Youth are able to obtain state-issued identification cards without parental consent in certain circumstances.

Environment

Environment

  • None

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for significant improvement throughout the metrics for the Yellowhammer State across all categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness, crafting statewide plans to address homelessness that contains a youth-specific component, designating agencies to develop and enforce these plans, and protecting the rights and interests of youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth, should be prioritized.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Enact and fund a state law similar to the federal RHYA to provide key intervention and emergency services for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Enact a state law which allows shelters to take in homeless youth with a delay or waiver of notification requirements. 
  • Enact a law which gives minors the right to enter into contracts for certain purposes (e.g. necessities). 
  • Allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

Systems

  • Create a comprehensive statewide plan to end homelessness that includes a strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness and LGBTQ youth homelessness. 
  • Create a state entity - such as an Office of Homeless Youth Services - that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • Create an Interagency Council on Homelessness that mirrors the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), providing a multi-sector approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • Organize and maintain a self-governing youth action board or council to inform youth homelessness policy within the state.
  • Require training about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, healthy sexual development, or issues specific to LGBTQ youth for staff working in runaway and homeless youth systems.
  • Promote safe and inclusive environments in child welfare, juvenile justice, and runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • Ban controversial and ineffective service provision that includes conversion therapy.

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