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State Highlights

Some areas where New Jersey has moved the needle relative to other states include preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems and providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state has a law similar to the federal RHYA to provide key intervention and emergency services for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • 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 entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.

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 Garden State, with emphasis on the Environment category.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law and ensure that students can earn partial and alternative school credit. 
  • Enact law or regulation which explicitly allows 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.
  • Enact law or regulation which removes barriers to obtaining state-issued identification cards due to proof of residency requirements.

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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