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State Highlights

Pennsylvania has not moved the needle on youth homelessness relative to other states, but there are some policies worth highlighting.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state allows youth in foster care to access extended foster care services to age 21 under certain circumstances and allows youth who have exited the foster care system after 18 to re-enter through the age of 21.

Systems

Systems

  • There is an interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • None.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Keystone State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, 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.
  • Declassify running away as a status or delinquent offense.
  • Allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.
  • Enact law or regulation to allow shelters to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.

Systems

Systems

  • Publish a comprehensive state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, including strategies 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 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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