No young person should be homeless and alone, even for a single night.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 5, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, a statewide Task Force, chaired by the Governor’s Office for Children, publicly released its Report and Recommendations on Housing and Supportive Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, the first of its kind in Maryland. This Report is available here.
The Public Justice Center played a key role in drafting the Report, along with a wide range of state agencies and non-profit allies, including the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Healthcare for the Homeless, and Advocates for Children and Youth, among others. At the request of the Task Force, PJC attorney Monisha Cherayil served as co-chair of the Supportive Services sub-group, which was charged with studying education and other services. The Report calls upon state and local agencies and lawmakers to take specific steps to better identify and serve the extraordinarily vulnerable and growing population of youth who lack stable housing and live on their own, without a parent or legal guardian. These recommendations include:
Developing mechanisms to count unaccompanied homeless youth;
Investing state and federal funds to create age-appropriate shelter and affordable supportive housing opportunities;
Facilitating access to health insurance through outreach and removal of barriers related to mandatory parental consent; and
Ensuring that unaccompanied homeless minors can apply for public benefits on their own.
Access to education, the core concern of the PJC’s Education Stability Project, is a particular focus of the Task Force Report. To ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth have the opportunity to attend and succeed in school, the Report directs the State Department of Education to establish and enforce standards by which local school districts can comply with the education protections of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act and related laws, all of which reflect national best practices and the PJC’s own expertise. The Report also sets forth strategies for increasing access to higher education among unaccompanied homeless youth.
The release of the Report represents a critical step in ending youth homelessness in Maryland, but it is only the first of many. Moving forward, the PJC will work with Task Force members and other allies to implement the Task Force’s recommendations and continue to pursue state and local policies that improve the lives of unaccompanied homeless youth, particularly in the area of education. We invite you to join us in this effort. For more information or to get involved, please contact Monisha Cherayil at . You can also learn more at the Justice for Breakfast discussion on December 10, when we’ll discuss the Task Force’s recommendations.