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State Highlights

Some areas where Oregon has moved the needle relative to other states includes providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, minimizing barriers to their access to comprehensive supports and services, addressing their educational needs, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

Law & Policy

  • 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 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 current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component.
  • 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 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.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Beaver State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy category. Preventing contact by youth experiencing homelessness with the criminal and juvenile justice systems should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

  • Enact state law that allows youth in need of supervision to receive services without court involvement.
  • Allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

  • As part of the state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, include a strategy 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.
  • Promote safe and inclusive environments in runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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