One of A Way Home Washington’s key strategies to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness is to advocate for reforms and public funding at the state level. We see this as an important way to make sure that Washington state has the programs, services, and resources it needs to help all of our young people find their way home.
In 2017, the Washington state legislative session is scheduled to run for 105 days, from January 9 through April 23. Legislators in Olympia face some tough challenges, including a mandate to fully fund basic education in our state. And as ever, political dynamics are bound to present challenges.
However, A Way Home Washington believes that this is a unique point in time for our state to come together and make positive changes. The Office of Homeless Youth has presented its 2016 Report as a roadmap to creating a statewide system of care. Governor and First Lady Inslee have provided their support and leadership to this cause. And a growing group of partners have joined our movement.
Together, we have developed a bold legislative agenda listing our priorities for 2017. This agenda reflects what we’ve been hearing and learning from communities across the state, and our work to develop tailored solutions that meet their unique needs and circumstances.
We will continue to update this agenda throughout the course of the legislative session. Sign up to receive our newsletter, and share it widely with your network.
A Way Home Washington’s 2017 Legislative Agenda
Click here to download a PDF copy
Ensure that Youth Exiting Public Systems Have A Safe, Stable Place To Go
- Establish an interagency workgroup or Governor’s cabinet on youth homelessness.
- HB 1867: Evaluate Extended Foster Care.
- HB 1816: Improve admission practices for youth entering Crisis Residential Centers and HOPE Beds.
Invest In Crisis Intervention and Diversion From Homelessness
- Improve and expand family reconciliation and preservation services.
- Reform status offense laws to reduce the number of youth detained for actions like violating curfew and running away.
Improve Education and Employment Outcomes for Vulnerable Young People
- SB 5241: Improve high school graduation rates by awarding students with partial or full credit for courses completed at a prior school.
- Support schools to fully implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and ensure accountability.
- Fully implement the Homeless Student Stability Program to connect older youth and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness to services and housing.
- Designate a trained staff person in every K-12 public school building that can identify and support students experiencing housing instability and homelessness.
- Expand Youth Works.
Provide Legal Advocacy for Foster Children and Youth
- Appoint attorneys to all children and youth in foster care before their first shelter care hearing.
Allocate Sustainable Funding
- Move funding for the Office of Homeless Youth to Commerce’s base budget.
- HB 1570: Renew the Document Recording fee without adding a future sunset date. Restrict the requirement that 45% of funding from the Home Security Fund be spent on rental or leasing payments to for-profit entities. (“Washington Housing Opportunities Act.”)
- Support the Washington Youth and Families Fund.
- Generate new revenue for the state budget.
Strengthen Statewide Systems of Care