Thanks to tenacious state and local advocates, five of SchoolHouse Connection’s state bills on youth homelessness have become law in three states.
These new laws will help youth experiencing homelessness access housing and services; graduate high school; find employment; and obtain their vital documents. We have great admiration for our partners who ushered these bills to passage: Kentucky’s Children’s Alliance; CHIP- Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention of Indianapolis; and Utah Housing Coalition. In these states and others, our network of young leaders, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and service providers testified for our bills and shepherded them through legislative committees. The bills that have passed so far include:
Kentucky’s HB 378:
- Requires the KY Department of Education to promulgate regulations regarding students experiencing homelessness, including awarding and accepting partial credit, facilitating enrollment in required classes, and providing for diplomas from a prior district or for meeting state minimum requirements for students who change schools in their last two years of high school.
- Waives birth certificate fees for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
Indiana’s SB 464:
- Allows unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness age 16 and older to take the high school equivalency exam without parental consent and at no cost.
- Allows unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness age 16 and older to apply for a driver’s license, obtain a state ID, and obtain a copy of their birth certificates without parental consent and without a fee.
Utah’s HB 371:
- Allows licensed shelters and providers to serve homeless youth without criminal penalties.
- Allows homeless youth 15 and older to consent for shelter and services.
- Incorporated HB 465 to waive birth certificate fees and photo ID fees for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
And Utah’s HB 181, which reforms the state tax credit for employers that hire people experiencing homelessness by:
- Revising the definition of “homeless” to be more inclusive, particularly of young people.
- Facilitating the issuance of tax credit certificates.
Our 13 remaining bills continue to work their way through state legislatures. They address access to child care, medical and mental health care, high school graduation, and postsecondary success.
So far, every bill that has gotten to a vote has passed, most with unanimous support from both parties. To read about our pending legislation, visit our State Policy webpage. For support on policy advocacy in your state, contact Patricia Julianelle.