Alone Without A Home: A State-By-State Review of Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth
Each year, an estimated 1.6 million unaccompanied children and youth (ages 12-17) experience homelessness. They leave home for a variety of reasons, including family conflict, parental neglect, parental mental health issues, or substance abuse. Whether “runaway” or “throwaway”, these unaccompanied homeless youth face many legal barriers that prevent them from reaching out to state agencies and service providers that could help them. Moreover, laws related to this population vary considerably from state to state which leads to misinterpretations by service providers and avoidance on the part of youth to seeking services. This report reviews current laws that affect the lives of unaccompanied homeless youth in all 50 U.S. states and 6 territories. The report also provides recommendations for policy changes that could facilitate better support for these youth.