by Nick Cervone
On February 13th, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (the Law Center) and National Network for Youth (NN4Y) released Alone without a Home: A National Review of State Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth, a report concerning the 700,000 minors that experience homelessness every year in America. These minors are identified as “unaccompanied youth” by the Law Center. The report examines the major causes of unaccompanied youth nationally, and it also takes in-depth looks at causes of unaccompanied youth in each state and six U.S. territories. The Law Center’s report also discusses the best practices to help the children who are experiencing homelessness, and laws that are already in place to give these children the resources they need to succeed.
“Youth experiencing homelessness alone are especially vulnerable and often traumatized, and it is critical that states remove barriers to assistance and provide the resources to help them,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the Law Center. “Policymakers must address the urgent needs of these youth, and this report offers common-sense proposals to help them do that.”
The report covers 13 topics of concern for unaccompanied youth, including “discharge from the juvenile justice system,” “right to public education,” and “access to health care.” The report also covers youth that are in foster care or exiting foster care, and the struggles they face finding housing after leaving the foster care system. According to the Law Center, “33% of youth experiencing homelessness had interacted with the foster care system,” and “50% of adolescents aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within six months because they are unprepared to live independently and have limited location and no social support.”