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State Highlights

Some areas where D.C. has moved the needle relative to other states include authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, and promoting safe and inclusive environments by providing protections for LGBTQ youth across multiple sectors.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The District 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. 
  • The District does not specifically criminalize running away and limits contact between youth experiencing homelessness and the criminal justice system.
  • The District provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The District 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 youth-specific and LGBTQ youth-specific strategy components.  
  • There is an interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • The District 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.
  • The District 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 District 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 District, with emphasis on the Law & Policy category. Reducing contact between youth experiencing homelessness and the criminal justice or juvenile justice systems, as well as providing greater support to youth and young adults exiting the juvenile justice system, should be prioritized. 

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Enact a law that allows youth in need of care to receive services without court involvement.
  • Mandate transition planning for children exiting the juvenile justice system and ensure that this planning specifically addresses housing needs.  
  • Require permanency planning for committed adjudicated youth. 
  • Provide transportation home to youth and young adults after discharge from the juvenile justice system.

Systems

Systems

  • Update District law or regulation to ensure that youth can obtain district-issued identification cards without parental consent.

Environment

Environment

  • None.

 

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