On Wednesday, October 24, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
This sweeping legislation contains many provisions that could help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as provisions to help all children and youth who experience trauma.
We’ll share more a complete analysis of the legislation in the coming weeks, but below are some highlights of H.R. 6:
- Definition of “Homeless Youth” – The legislation includes a definition of “Homeless Youth” that is aligned with the definition of homelessness in the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act. This definition of homelessness matches the reality of youth homelessness. It includes youth who stay with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, and youth who stay in motels due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations.
- Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative – This initiative requires the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Department of Education, to identify and disseminate best practices for the prevention of and recovery from substance use disorder, including for specific populations such as homeless youth and youth in foster care. Grants are authorized to carry out substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment programs.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Data Collection – The legislation authorizes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support states in collecting and reporting data on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) through the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in order to help understand the causes and effects of ACEs. The CDC now includes two questions about homelessness on its optional YRBS questionnaire. 24 states and 10 localities included one or both of those questions in their 2017 YRBS administrations. The addition of ACEs questions will further the understanding of the relationship between ACEs and homelessness among high school students.
- Interagency Task Force on Trauma-Informed Supports – The legislation creates a task force to recommend best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma in order to help identify, prevent, and address the impact of trauma on children and youth, inclusive of homelessness.
- Grants to Improve Trauma Support Services and Mental Health Care for Children and Youth in Educational Settings – The legislation creates a grant to increase student support services and better integrate mental health care in schools, aimed at preventing and mitigating the effects of negative childhood experiences.