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Quick Facts: Tennessee

​​​​​​​​​Performance Breakdown
  • Law & Policy: 58% of metrics met
    • Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness: 58% of metrics met 

    • Preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems: 38% of metrics met 

    • Providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently: 100% 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: 50% of metrics met 

  • Systems: 83% of metrics met 
  • Environment: 18% of metrics met

State Score 2022: 56
State Ranking 2022: 25


2022 Score

2021 Score



Tennessee Highlights

Some areas where Tennessee has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and live independently and addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness..


Law & Policy

  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.

  • The state allows shelters to take in homeless youth with a delay or waiver of notification requirements.

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



  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component.

  • There is a state entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.



  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in child welfare and juvenile justice programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Volunteer State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness and protecting the rights and interests of youth experiencing homelessness, including LGBTQ youth, should be prioritized.


Law & Policy

  • The state should explicitly allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage without parental consent.

  • The state should provide transportation home after discharge from the juvenile justice system.

  • The state should explicitly allow homeless youth to use SNAP to buy hot restaurant or prepared meals.

  • The state should decriminalize runaway youth as delinquent or a status offender.



  • As part of the state plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, include a strategy to address homelessness among LGBTQ + youth.

  • The State Department of Transportation should allow minors to obtain state-issued ID without parental consent.



  • The state should establish and maintain stipends for a community advisory board that informs youth homelessness policy (Youth Action Board).

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

  • The state should establish nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ youth in youth homelessness services.

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