True Colors Fund
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State Highlights

Some areas where Vermont has moved the needle relative to other states includes providing unaccompanied youth opportunities to achieve legal independence, allowing access to critical supports and services, limiting contact with the justice systems, and protecting the rights of LGBTQ youth within key state programs.  

Law & Policy

  • State law does not specifically criminalize running away.
  • Youth under the age of majority have contract rights that would allow them to obtain necessities and enter into agreements for supports and services, making it easier to live independently.
  • Unaccompanied youth under 18 years of age can apply for health insurance coverage (without parental consent).

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 Green Mountain State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

  • Enact a state law that provides comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness and adequate funding to address youth homelessness generally.
  • 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.
  • Implement a grievance process for students experiencing homelessness that complies with federal law.
  • Expand eligibility for publicly-funded opportunities and supports available to children and youth to include older young people through the age of 24.
  • Revise curfew statutes to further limit court and police involvement.
  • Protect providers from civil and criminal liability when they provide services in good faith to youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Remove barriers to accessing critical supports and services. Youth experiencing homelessness should be able to consent to their own care, including consenting to examination and treatment relating to a sexual assault without the need for parental consent.
  • Address housing needs in transition planning for justice-involved youth.
  • Subsidize childcare for eligible recipients of TANF.

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.
  • Remove barriers to obtaining a state-issued identification card such as requiring parental consent.

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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