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State Highlights

Some areas where Utah has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently and implementing a multi-sectoral approach to preventing and ending homelessness.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights for homeless youth.
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • The state allows youth in foster care to access extended foster care services to age 21 under any circumstances and allows youth who have exited the foster care system after 18 to re-enter care until age 21.
  • The state allows shelters to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.

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

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Beehive State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness and protecting their rights and interests, including the rights and interests of 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.
  • Enact a state law that allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • Allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

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 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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