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State Highlights

Some areas where D.C. has moved the needle relative to other states includes authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently, and promoting safe and inclusive environments by providing protections for LGBTQ youth across multiple sectors.

Law & Policy

  • The District does not criminally punish youth who run away and limits their contact with the criminal justice system.
  • The District provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The District 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

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains youth-specific and LGBTQ youth-specific strategy components.
  • There is a interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

  • The District requires 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
  • The District has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • The District 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 District, with emphasis on the Law & Policy category. Addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

  • Enact a 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 District 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 District.

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