Quick Facts: West Virginia

  • Law & Policy: 51% of metrics met
     
    • Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness: 42% of metrics met 
       

    • Preventing youth experiencing homelessness from coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems: 5% 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: 78% of metrics met 
       

  • Systems: 67% of metrics met 
     
  • Environment: 53% of metrics met

State Score 2020: 54

State Ranking 2020: 21

West Virginia Highlights

Some areas where West Virginia has moved the needle relative to other states include providing unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence and to access critical supports and services.

Law & Policy

  • ​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).

Systems​​

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness.

    • The state plan has a "youth" component.

Environment

  • 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 room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Mountain State, with emphasis on the Law & Policy and Environment categories. Laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, preventing homeless youth’s contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and protecting the rights and interests of LGBTQ youth should be prioritized.

Law & Policy

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

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

  • The state should pass a law that funds and provides oversight and regulation to youth homelessness services.

Systems

  • The state should create an entity – such as an Office of Youth Homelessness Services – that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.

Environment

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

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True Colors United & National Homelessness Law Center
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