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These Are the Top 5 States Addressing Youth Homelessness

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USA

The State Index rates all 50 states and Washington, D.C. on effort to end youth homelessness.

Developed as a partnership between the True Colors Fund and National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the State Index on Youth Homelessness is:

  1. A state-by-state evaluation of the work being done to prevent and end youth homelessness in America.
  2. A snapshot of the legal, systemic, and environmental barriers that youth experiencing homelessness face.
  3. A guide to help elected officials improve their state’s work to end youth homelessness.

So, without further ado – here are the top scoring states, according to the State Index:


Colorado capitol

#5 – Colorado

State Score: 60/100

Some areas where Colorado has moved the needle on youth homelessness includes authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing their contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, elevating the voices of youth who have experienced homelessness by partnering with them throughout policy development, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

  • State legislation does not criminally punish youth who run away.
  • State law allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides contract rights for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • State has RHY legislation 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 state has created an entity – an Office of Homeless Youth Services –  that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.
  • The state maintains a self-governing youth action board or council that informs youth homelessness policy.
  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in juvenile justice programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Learn more >>


Connecticut Capitol

#3 (tie) – Connecticut

State Score: 61/100

Some areas where Connecticut has moved the needle relative to other states includes preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, addressing their educational needs, and elevating the voices of youth who have experienced homelessness by working with them throughout policy development.

  • State law allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.
  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains youth-specific and LGBTQ youth-specific strategy components.
  • The state maintains a self-governing youth action board or council that informs youth homelessness policy.
  • Ending youth homelessness is a goal of the Executive branch
  • The state has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • 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.

Learn more >>


California Capitol

#3 (tie) – California

State Score: 61/100

Some areas where California has moved the needle relative to other states includes authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing their contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

  • State does not criminally punish youth who run away.
  • State law provides partial or full contract rights for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • State allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.
  • State has RHY legislation 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 State Department of Transportation has systems in place to address proof of residency requirements to receive a state-issued identification card.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.
  • The state has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression.
  • 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.

Learn more >>


Massachusetts Capitol

#2 – Massachusetts

State Score: 63/100

Some areas where Massachusetts has moved the needle relative to other states includes preventing homeless youth’s contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, allowing youth experiencing homelessness to access critical supports and services,  creating systems to address the needs of homeless youth, and promoting safe and inclusive environments by providing protections for LGBTQ youth in key programs.

  • State law allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The state has a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that is in compliance with federal law.
  • State allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.
  • State has RHY legislation 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.
  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component.
  • The state has created an entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.
  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in juvenile justice and child welfare programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Learn more >>


Washington State Capitol

#1 – Washington

State Score: 69/100

Some areas where Washington has moved the needle relative to other states includes laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing their contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

  • State does not criminally punish youth who run away.
  • State law allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • State allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.
  • State has RHY legislation 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.
  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component.
  • The state has created an entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.
  • The state has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in child welfare and juvenile justice programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Learn more >>


How Does Your State Stack Up?

While the above states scored the highest in the State Index, the top score was only a 69/100. That shows that there’s still much work to be done across the board. Learn what your state is doing to address youth homelessness and tell your governor: “We can do better!” Send a message to your governor with your state’s score and recommendations for improvement. Complete this form to look up your state score and we’ll generate a personalized email and tweet for you:

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