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State Highlights

Some areas where Louisiana has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, creating systems to address the needs of homeless youth, and protecting the rights and interests of youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth. 

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state has RHY 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 allows youth in need of care to receive services without court involvement.
  • 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, juvenile justice, and runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • 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.

 

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Pelican State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy category. Limiting opportunities for contact between youth experiencing homelessness and the juvenile and criminal justice systems should be prioritized. 

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Enact regulations which explicitly allow partial and alternative school credit accrual for homeless youth. 
  • Declassify running away as a status or delinquent offense.
  • Enact a law or regulation which allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage without parental consent.

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.
  • Amend regulations to allow minors to obtain state-issued identification without parental consent.

Environment

Environment

  • Organize and maintain a self-governing youth action board or council to inform youth homelessness policy within the state.
  • Ban controversial and ineffective service provision that includes conversion therapy.

 

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