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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.

Statutory Process for Emancipation

  • Autonomy

The jurisdiction has a statutory process for emancipation

Emancipation is a legal process that allows individuals under the age of 18 to become independent from their parents or legal guardians. This means that they are granted certain rights and responsibilities that are typically reserved for adults. To be emancipated, minors must typically show that they are capable of supporting themselves financially, have a stable living situation, and are able to make mature and responsible decisions. Once emancipated, they can make decisions about their own healthcare, education, and finances, and are legally responsible for their own actions.

Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
1.0 Reform The jurisdiction has a statutory process for emancipation that the minor can initiate
0.5 Harm Reduction The jurisdiction has a statutory process for emancipation
0.0 Status Quo No law found
-0.5 Harmful The jurisdiction has a statutory process for emancipation but does not allow waiver of parental notice

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. "State Index on Youth Homelessness, Statutory Process for Emancipation" https://youthstateindex.com/maps/statutory-process-for-emancipation/. Accessed: February 24, 2024.

Autonomy

In many jurisdictions, minors have limited autonomy when it comes to entering into contracts for rental properties, obtaining medical care, and other important decisions that affect their lives. However, there is a growing movement to increase the autonomy of minors in these areas. One important step is to allow minors to enter into rental contracts, which would give them greater control over their living arrangements. Additionally, providing a statutory process for emancipation gives minors who are already supporting themselves the legal right to make their own decisions.

Another area where autonomy is important is minors’ ability to consent to shelter and services, a crucial tool in ensuring that unhoused youth get the help and support they need. 

“The money and resources that are being provided have too many barriers. Lack of documentation or other things necessary to qualify is a huge barrier. Have to be on the verge of homelessness or losing services in order to qualify for the assistance. Should be fixed BEFORE it gets to the point of almost losing housing or utilities.” – Joel Swazo

Model Statute: