House Advances Bill to Help Homeless Youth
Mike Seals - March 1, 2021 9:58 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill designed to help homeless youth gain access to housing, medical care, education and other services passed the House today with a vote of 82-6.
House Bill 1739, by Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, creates the Connecting Futures Act, which is designed for youth between the ages of 15 and 18. The measure would direct the state Department of Human Services, working with social service providers, to design a pilot program addressing the needs of minors who are not supported by parents or guardians and who are not in state or tribal custody. The act would not deprive a parent or legal guardian of any parental or legal authority.
“Unfortunately we have a number of young people in our state whose needs are not being met, and they need our help,” Dills said. “This program will help us identify barriers facing these youth so we can find solutions and resources to assist them.”
Dills said the program is aimed at youth who, for whatever reason, don’t fit into the state’s foster care system but who aren’t with their parents. Many of these teens don’t even have access to necessary documents such as their birth certificates or social security numbers, which leaves them unable to secure a driver’s licenses or employment. Too many end up in poverty, in the state’s penal system or worse, she said.
The Connecting Futures Act could change this trajectory and help these young people become successful adults, Dills said.
HB 1739 now advances to the Senate where Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, is the author.