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State Highlights

Some areas where Florida 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 providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently.

Law & Policy

  • 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 partial or full contract rights for homeless youth.
  • 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

  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

  • State 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 Sunshine State, with emphasis on the Systems and Environment categories. Addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness, creating a statewide strategy to end homelessness that includes a youth-specific component, and protecting the rights and interests of vulnerable youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth, should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

  • 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 statewide strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness that includes a plan 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

  • 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 juvenile justice and runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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