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This year, we’ve reformed the Index to focus on unhoused youth and young adults (YYA), aligning it with their experiences and policy needs. Shifting from harm reduction to transformative change, some jurisdictions may see lower scores than before. This is a deliberate strategy, not a setback. Lower scores should motivate, not discourage, jurisdictions. They present an opportunity to adopt policies that effectively tackle and prevent youth homelessness, fostering meaningful progress.
Housing Status Accounted for in School Disciplinary Actions
The jurisdiction requires schools to take homelessness into account in disciplinary or truancy actions
Truancy is when a minor has so many unexcused absences from school that it triggers a court referral or other disciplinary process. Truancy laws can disproportionately affect unhoused students, who face numerous barriers in getting to school (and getting to school on time). Federal law requires schools to remove barriers to students experiencing homelessness, including by working with them or their parents to arrange transportation or make other accommodations, including waiving punishments for truancy associated with their homelessness. Every district is required by law to have a homeless student liaison to help keep homeless students in school – students who need help should find the liaison for their school district.
|Type of Policy
|The jurisdiction requires schools to take homelessness into account in disciplinary or truancy actions
|No law found
Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. "State Index on Youth Homelessness, Housing Status Accounted for in School Disciplinary Actions" https://youthstateindex.com/maps/housing-status-accounted-for-in-school-disciplinary-actions/. Accessed: March 1, 2024.
Access to formal education is crucial for unhoused young people for a number of reasons. Education is often a gateway to essential services, secure housing, and stable finances. Education can provide critical thinking and other skill sets that are necessary, both personally and professionally, for adulthood. Education can provide a sense of purpose and belonging, which is important for unhoused young people who are isolated or disconnected from society, including care providers and their peers.
“What I needed most was a clean space (uncluttered), a place to eat meals, transportation to and from school and activities. I did not have places to study. I have always been a high achieving student without the physical and mental space to fully feel safe and supported.”– Makayla Dawkins
Criminalizing homelessness is ineffective, immoral, and costs more money than solving the problem. The criminal legal system is not the solution to social problems. All persons experiencing homelessness should instead have access to affordable housing, education, health care, employment, income, and other opportunities and services that allow all to live with dignity. Similarly, youth should not be criminalized due to their age, yet many youth in many jurisdictions still face criminalization for “status offenses”. Status offenses are activities that are illegal for people under the age of majority (which is usually 18) but NOT illegal for adults. Examples include not attending school (truancy), running away from home, and curfew violations.