Quick Facts: Washington

  • Law & Policy: 77% of metrics met
    • Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness: 92% of metrics met 

    • Preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems: 67% 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: 67% of metrics met 

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

State Score 2020: 84

State Ranking 2020: 2

Washington Highlights

Some areas where Washington has moved the needle relative to other states include laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, addressing the educational needs of 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 doesn’t consider running away a criminal offense.

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

  • 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.

  • The state establishes protected class status based on one's sexual orientation and gender identity for runaway and homeless youth programs.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is limited room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Evergreen State. State officials should focus on preventing interaction between youth and the courts system and allowing youth to access critical supports and services.


Law & Policy

  • The state should allow youth to use SNAP benefits to purchase hot restaurant or prepared foods.

  • The state should require permanency planning for committed adjudicated youth, provide transportation home after discharge from the juvenile legal system, and account for housing in transition planning. 

  • The state should allow minors, regardless of their legal status, to consent to examination and treatment relating to a sexual assault (without parental consent).



  • None.



  • The state should consider developing a public awareness campaign to draw attention to the issue of youth homelessness and build momentum behind the work to end youth homelessness.

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