Too many youth and young adults find themselves on the streets, couch-surfing with friends, in emergency shelters or worse, after exiting the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In some circumstances, youth have had court hearings until their exit from the legal system, but those hearings have not focused on long-range plans of youth and emergencies youth may encounter. In other circumstances, there has been little or no planning prior to discharge, especially for young people who leave the juvenile justice system. Courts can and should prevent, alleviate or end youth homelessness for youth who appear before them through strategies that are enumerated in the recently-passed NCJFCJ resolution. This article expounds on three of these strategies – coordinating transition and re-entry plans, insisting on effective legal representation of youth, and utilizing sound judicial leadership. It also describes the concurrent efforts of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the American Bar Association’s Homeless Youth Legal Network to remove legal barriers and improve outcomes for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
Linda Britton, Lisa Pilnik
Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 1 March 2018