HB 1436 establishes as a goal that the following key components need to be available and accessible:
- Stable housing (includes a statement that youth discharged from a public system of care in our state will not be discharged into homelessness);
- Education and employment (provides opportunities and support to complete a high school education and pursue additional education and training);
- Permanent connections (focuses on healthy, positive relationships with family members, employers, landlords, teachers, community members);
- Social and emotional well-being (access to both behavioral and physical health care).
The bill establishes that statewide homeless prevention and reduction efforts should be the responsibility of the executive branch and that funding for programs should be available to local communities to best meet the needs of homeless youth and young adults in the 4 key areas. Further HB 1436 creates the Office of Homeless Youth Programs at the Dept. of Commerce that would be responsible for leading efforts to coordinate future funding, policy and practice efforts related to homeless youth. The bill addresses the need to gather data and outcome measures, develop recommendations and timelines to address funding, policy and practice gaps within the state system for addressing the four priority service areas, complete reports, and increase system integration and coordination in order to prevent state systems from discharging youth and young adults into homelessness.
The Office would consult regularly with an advisory committee, which is charged with providing guidance and recommendations to the Office regarding funding, policy and practice gaps. The office would be operational no later than Jan. 1, 2016. A report to the Governor regarding recommendations in the 4 priority areas is due by Dec. 1, 2016.
Further, HB 1436 authorizes the Office to distribute grants in the 4 priority areas to providers who serve homeless youth and young adults; and gives the Office management and oversight guidance and direction to HOPE Centers, Crisis Residential Centers, Street Youth Services, and the Independent Youth Housing Program. Finally, the bill changes the name of the WA Families Fund to the WA Youth and Families Fund and gives the Dept. of Commerce the authority to expend moneys from the Fund on housing-based supportive services for homeless youth and families.
HB 1436 as amended by the Early Learning and Human Services Committee: (1) Removed the staff to child ratio requirement for Crisis Residential Centers with semi-secure facilities, (2) clarified that the DSHS authorizes a street youth's temporary placement in the HOPE Center, and (3) removed the time frame requirement for the state matched funds to be used in the Washington Youth and Families Fund.
Second SHB 1436 as amended by House Appropriations Committee: The second substitute bill is null and void unless specific funding is provided in the budget by June 30, 2015.