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State Highlights

Some areas where California has moved the needle relative to other states include authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing their contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state has statutes similar to the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) that provides funding for emergency services and other supports to prevent and end youth homelessness. 
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides partial or full contract rights for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • The state allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.
  • The state explicitly allows partial and alternative school credit accrual for homeless youth through regulations.

Systems

Systems

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component. 
  • The State Department of Transportation has systems in place to address proof of residency requirements to receive a state-issued identification card.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • The state requires 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.
  • The state promotes 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.
  • The state has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression. 
  • The state maintains a community advisory board for youth that informs youth homelessness policy. 

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Golden State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Systems categories. Reducing contact with the courts and amending the statewide plan to end homelessness to include an LGBTQ youth-specific component should be prioritized.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Enact state law that allows youth in need of care to receive services without court involvement.
  • Enact a state law which allows shelters to take in homeless youth with a delay or waiver of notification requirements. 
  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law.

Systems

Systems

  • As part of the state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, include a strategy to address homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Environment

Environment

  • None.

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