January 8th was the start of the 2018 legislative session in Washington. A Way Home Washington (AWHWA) will be a strong leader and an advocate on youth and young adult homelessness in Olympia. We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to pass landmark legislation and secure the necessary funding to strengthen families and support young people who are homeless.
The 2018 session is a short one, running just 60 days. In that time period, legislators will face many tough items on their agenda, including passing the capital budget and fully funding public schools. However, we are confident that members will carve out time to consider and pass proposals that will work towards our goal of ending youth homelessness in Washington.
With our partners and the state’s Office of Homeless Youth, we have developed a bold legislative agenda that, if passed, will take substantive steps to help homeless youth across the state. Thanks to the 100-Day Challenges we helped run in Pierce, Spokane, and King Counties, we now have even more on-the-ground knowledge about what it takes to connect youth and young adults to stable housing.
We will continue to update this agenda throughout the course of legislative session. Sign up to receive our newsletter, and please share it widely with your network!
2018 Legislative Agenda
ENSURE THAT ALL YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS HAVE A SAFE AND STABLE PLACE TO GO
- Family in Need of Services (FINS) Petitions: Consolidate and expand existing laws to strengthen families in crisis and make it easier for at-risk youth to acquire temporary shelter while the state evaluates their home living situation.
- Extended Foster Care (SB 6222 / HB 2330): Expand eligibility so that all 18-21-year-olds have access to safe housing.
STRENGTHEN STATEWIDE SYSTEMS OF CARE
- Better Data on Youth Homelessness: Allow minors to voluntarily consent to have their data entered into public systems to ensure accurate information that drives the development of policies, services, system evaluation and innovation.
INCREASE FUNDING FOR KEY PROGRAMS THAT SUPPORT HOMELESS YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
- Family Counseling and Support: Funding for the Office of Homeless Youth to establish programs for families to access counseling and reduce likelihood of runaways and homelessness.
- Hope Centers, Crisis Residential Centers, and Responsible Living Skills Programs: Increase number of emergency beds across the state.
- Capital Budget: Pass the capital budget to support projects that serve youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
All Lead Agenda items support and align with the Office of Homeless Youth’s Strategic Plan.
- Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC): Change state law so that minors can not be charged with the crime of prostitution and create safe and innovative treatment programs.
- of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) Implementation: Support the expansion and implementation of the new state department.
A Way Home Washington also supports the legislative agendas of the Washington Coalition for Homeless Youth Advocacy (WACHYA), the Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition (CWAC), and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA).