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State Highlights

Some areas where Hawaii has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently and preventing homeless youth’s contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • State law allows youth in need of care to receive services without court involvement.
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The state allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

Systems

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component. 
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in child welfare and juvenile justice 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 or expression.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Aloha State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, addressing their educational needs, 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.
  • Ensure that shelters are able to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.
  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law and allow students to earn partial and alternative school credits.

Systems

Systems

  • As part of the state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, include a strategy to address homelessness among LGBTQ youth.
  • Create a state entity - such as an Office of Homeless Youth Services -  that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.

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 runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

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