When we take a closer look at systemic issues impacting children and youth exiting state care- either through the Office of Juvenile Affairs or Oklahoma DHS, we notice there are many overlapping issues. Children, youth, and families appear to be faced by challenges in housing, education, employment, transportation, and positive permanent connections.
Senate Bill 511 became effective July 1, 2015. It directs the P&C Steering Committee (Office of Planning and Coordination Steering Committee) and OCCY (Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth) to review data and propose policy solutions for children and youth at-risk of becoming homeless.
Assessments were made that identified two sub-populations of children and youth at risk of homelessness. 1) Children and Youth that are a member of an economically fragile family. 2) Children and Youth that exit the state child serving system at 18.
Eight recommendations were made to help prevent child and youth homelessness.
- Create an Oklahoma Homeless Children and Youth Centralized Data Repository
- Develop legislation that creates an Oklahoma definition of children and youth at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing homelessness
- Review and reform existing emancipation statutes
- Develop licensing standards for “drop-in centers”
- Consider the extension of aftercare services for children and youth who exit Oklahoma’s care at age 18
- Support delivery of services to unaccompanied youth that are considered “non-traditional” tenants by property managers
- Support greater access to dental coverage of children and youth at-risk of homelessness
- Support Oklahoma Department of Education’s implementation of Best Practices Guidelines in identifying children and youth at-risk for homelessness