True Colors Fund
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State Highlights

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.

Law & Policy

  • 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.

Systems

  • 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.

Environment

  • 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.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Golden State, with emphasis on the Systems and Environment categories. Addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness and creating structures like a statewide plan to end homelessness that includes a youth-specific component should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

  • Enact 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.

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.

Environment

  • 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.

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