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Black and Indigenous youth, and other youth of color (BIPOC youth) are overrepresented in foster care, among those experiencing homelessness, and in our juvenile justice system due to historic and current systemic racism. We are actively committed to eliminating these disparities. We are also focused on addressing the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on young people. As always, our legislative agenda is guided and inspired by youth with lived experience.

Juvenile Record Expungement

Juvenile records have significant consequences for young people and can cause youth difficulties as young adults. BIPOC youth are overrepresented in the juvenile legal system, facing higher rates of referrals to court and adjudications for criminal offenses than their white counterparts, which further impacts their adult life.
 
Solution: Implement a bill calling for automatic expungement of most juvenile
records at age 18.
 

Financial Capability for Youth in Foster Care

Young people in Washington state who are in Foster Care need access to financial literacy skills and a bank account at a young age, to help them be successful when they leave care. Without these resources, they can become trapped in a cycle of poverty.
 
Solution: Implement a bill that directs DCYF to establish bank accounts for foster
youth ages 14+ and to provide a monthly allowance.
 
Champion: Senator Nobles
 

 Extended Foster Care

Young people transition out of Foster Care and Extended Foster Care at a pivotal point in their life. In transitioning out of care they lose necessary support and resources they need to survive. This loss of resources has only been further impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Solution: Continue financial assistance for youth who age out of Extended Foster Care through June 2023.

Champion: Senator Wilson

Preserve Critical Programs

The state faces a budget deficit and few tools to address the gap. Shelter, housing, child welfare, education, and other human services programs are crucial to supporting young people and their families through this recession and global health crisis. We call on the legislature to preserve the investments they’ve made in those areas and to consider new, equitable revenue options to prevent harmful cuts.

 

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Consent to Care

Pass legislation to allow unaccompanied homeless minors to consent to routine medical care (like immunizations, diagnostic tests, dental care).
 
Lead: WA Coalition for Homeless Youth Advocacy

Budget Impact: None

Champions: Rep. Cody, Sen. Kaiser 

Reduce Youth Contact with Police

Young people experiencing homelessness and in the foster care system are more likely to have contact with the police. We support legislation that limits or eliminates police in schools to minimize student contact with the police and other efforts to increase accountability and transparency of law enforcement.
 

Expand Independent Youth Housing Program

Ensure housing stability for former foster youth by expanding the Independent Youth Housing Program to serve those in Extended Foster Care, young people through age 24, and open it to all youth with foster care history.

Lead: Office of Homeless Youth

Budget Impact: $4 million

Champion: Sen. Kuderer 

Behavioral Health Support

Expand availability of on-site behavioral health support in homeless youth shelters.

Lead: WA Coalition for Homeless Youth Advocacy 

Budget Impact: $1.2 million

Flexible Funding

Provide flexible funding to youth and young adults exiting in-patient health treatment to ensure they exit to safe and stable housing.

Lead: NorthStar Advocates

Support students experiencing homelessness by strengthening and expanding the Homeless Student Stability Program.

Lead: Building Changes

Budget Impact: $450,000

Pass legislation establishing a guaranteed basic income of $100/month for those over age 18 who make less than 200% of the federal poverty level

Lead: Partners for Our Children

Budget Impact: TBD

Champion: Rep. Berry

Independent Living Lifeline

Pass legislation to establish the Independent Living Lifeline, which youth you have aged out can call for assistance.

Lead: NorthStar Advocates 

Budget Impact: TBD 

Champion: Rep. Chopp

Pass legislation to allow state advisory boards and working groups to pay members who are not receiving compensation for participation.

Lead: Office of Homeless Youth

Budget Impact: TBD 

Champions: Rep. Gregerson, Sen. Wilson