|Posted:||January 29, 2021 12:37 PM|
|From:||Representative Mark Rozzi and Rep. Donna Bullock|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Homeless Minor's Ability to Contract for Services|
This past year has been an unprecedented national emergency and it is imperative that we support the most vulnerable in our communities such as the over 1.5 million students, identified by public schools, as experiencing homelessness across the country. Many communities are closing schools in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While this is an important step to protect public health, it poses challenges for youth who depend on the support they receive from their local school including free meals and a safe place to learn.
The plight of homeless youth is a double edge sword as a majority are escaping violent and abusive situations and have gone “underground” as to not be discovered. They are either unable or unwilling to access safe shelter and housing services due to the requirement for parental consent and/or their involvement in the child welfare system, making homeless minors extremely vulnerable to sexual trafficking and labor exploitation.
Our legislation would allow a minor to apply to high school or post-secondary schools, as well as contract for a variety of services including shelter and housing, employment, loans, bank accounts and the like. Further, our legislation provides immunity to providers who have reason to believe the minor would incur harm if returned immediately to the home of the parent, the provider is unable to locate a parent, or the minor refuses to disclose contact information.
For purposes of clarification, the definition of “Homeless minor” shall have the same meaning as “unaccompanied youth” under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Public Law 100-77, 101 Stat. 482).
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation to allow homeless minors to gain some level of self-sufficiency.
Introduced as HB1044