Quick Facts: California

  • Law & Policy: 66% of metrics met
    • Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness: 83% of metrics met 

    • Preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems: 24% of metrics met 

    • Providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently: 88% of metrics met 

    • Addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness: 100% of metrics met 

    • Allowing youth experiencing homelessness to access critical supports and services: 83% of metrics met 

  • Systems: 94% of metrics met
  • Environment: 100% of metrics met

State Score 2020: 77

State Ranking 2020: 5

California Highlights

Some areas where California has moved the needle relative to other states include authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.


Law & Policy

  • The state has a state Runaway & Homeless Youth Act.

  • The state gives minors contract rights OR allows them to enter into binding contracts for certain purposes (e.g. necessities).

  • The state explicitly allows partial and alternative school credit accrual for homeless youth through regulations.

  • The state explicitly allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage (without parental consent).



  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness.

    • The state plan has a "youth" component.

  • There is a state entity (Office of homeless youth services, homeless youth state coordinator, commission on homeless youth, etc.) that focuses solely on youth homelessness.



  • The state maintains a community advisory board for youth that informs youth homelessness policy.

  • The state requires training about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, healthy sexual development or issues specific to LGBTQ+ youth for staff working in RHY Systems.

  • There are nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ youth in youth homelessness services.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Golden State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Systems categories. Reducing contact with the courts and amending the statewide plan to end homelessness to include an LGBTQ youth-specific component should be prioritized.


Law & Policy

  • The state should decriminalize running away as a status offense. 

  • The state should allow shelters to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.



  • The state plan to end youth homelessness should be updated to include a plan to end homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.



  • None

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