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State Highlights

An area where Alabama has moved the needle relative to other states includes preventing youth experiencing homelessness from increased contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Law & Policy

  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • State law provides contract rights for youth experiencing homelessness.

Systems

  • Youth can gain access to a state-issued identification card without the requirement of parental consent in certain circumstances.

Environment

  • None

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for significant improvement throughout the metrics for the Yellowhammer State, with emphasis across all categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness, crafting statewide plans to address homelessness that contains a youth-specific component, designating agencies to develop and enforce these plans, and protecting the rights and interests of youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth, should be prioritized.

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.
  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law.
  • Allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

  • Create a comprehensive statewide plan to end homelessness that includes a strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness and LGBTQ youth homelessness.
  • Create a state entity - such as an Office of Homeless Youth Services - that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • Create an Interagency Council on Homelessness that mirrors the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), providing a multi-sectoral approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness.

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.
  • Ban controversial and ineffective service provision that includes conversion therapy.
  • 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.

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