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State Highlights

Some areas where Idaho has moved the needle relative to other states includes providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently.

Law & Policy

  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • State allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness.

Environment

  • The 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  across metrics for the Gem State. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing their contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, addressing their educational needs, creating a statewide strategy to end homelessness that includes a youth-specific strategy, 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 state law that allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • Declassify running away as a status or delinquent offense.
  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law.

Systems

  • Add a strategy to prevent and end LGBTQ youth homelessness to the current state plan to end 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 prevent and end 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 juvenile justice and runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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