HD37 - Study of the Needs of Homeless Children
The HJR 181 workgroup met six times over the course of the study. The workgroup reviewed the literature, catalogued existing initiatives and identified strategies to respond to child homelessness. Members of both the Virginia Housing Study Commission and the Virginia Commission on Youth heard presentations on national policy, state programs, service statistics, and a fiscal analysis of the funding support provided to serve homeless children in Virginia. In addition, testimony was received at two public hearings on the needs and barriers to respond to child homelessness.
On the basis of these activities, the Commission on Youth and the Housing Study Commission offer the following recommendations in seven policy areas. Priority recommendations are identified by an asterisk.
A. IMPROVE THE SERVICE DELIVERY AND SYSTEM CAPACITY FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN
Provide General Fund support for the designation of a staff position to provide case management and direct services to children in homeless and domestic violence .shelters serving minor children.
Codify the role of the Virginia Interagency Action Council for the Homeless to coordinate program development and .delivery of essential services to the homeless.
Request the Department of Health to coordinate with the Departments of Social Services and Criminal Justice Services to insure the accessibility of sexual assault services to minors.
Request the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide training on collaborative approaches to serving the homeless.
Request the Departments of Social Services and Juvenile Justice to assess the need for shelter beds to serve homeless unaccompanied minors.
B. ADDRESS HOMELESS CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
Provide General Fund support to homeless education programs to offset reduction in federal funds.
Increase funding for child day care for the homeless under the Child Care Block Grant.
Expand availability of Head Start in Virginia and reserve slots for children residing in homeless shelters.
Amend § 22.1-3.1 and § 22.1-271.2 of the Code of Virginia to facilitate the enrollment of homeless children in local schools.
Include Homeless and Domestic Violence Shelters in the definition of in loco parentis to foster enrollment of homeless children in schools and to enable shelters to serve non-emancipated homeless minors.
Continue the Commission on Youth's Study of the Needs of Homeless Children for an additional year to address their educational issues.
C. RESPOND TO THE HEALTH NEEDS OF HOMELESS CHILDREN
Pilot a Public Health/Shelter Partnership.
Request the Department of Health to study the feasibility of developing a statewide Child Immunization Tracking System.
D. PREVENT CHILD HOMELESSNESS
Re-establish Virginia's Rent Reduction Tax Credit Program and amend eligibility to include low income, families.
Enact the Virginia Earned Income Tax Credit.
Request the Department of Education to study the feasibility of providing mandatory life skills training in secondary schools.
Increase General Fund support for additional respite care programs for adolescents.
Expand the funds available through Family Violence Prevention Grants for child abuse prevention programs.
Expand independent living programs for youth exiting foster care.
Mandate foster parent training.
Provide General Funds to local human service agencies to offset FEMA budget cuts.
Request a legislative study on the establishment of community banks and credit unions for small loans to low income families.
E. STRENGTHEN TRANSITIONAL SERVICES FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES
Establish a tax incentive for employers to hire the homeless.
Request the Department of Social Services to establish non-traditional jobs training.
Request a legislative study to review credit rating assessments for the homeless moving from transitional to permanent housing.
F. IMPROVEMENT OF SHELTER CARE SERVICES TO THE HOMELESS
Increase General Fund support for additional shelter beds, supportive services and facility repairs.
Restore the Virginia Tax Check-Off For Housing Program targeted for the homeless, elderly and disabled.
G. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF FEDERAL POLICIES ON VIRGINIA'S HOMELESS
Request the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify the impact of cuts in Supplemental Security Income (581) and Welfare Reform on homeless children.
Request Virginia field offices of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assess the impact of "one strike" federal eviction policies.