LOS ANGELES – New Jersey has one of the best scores in the country when it comes to homelessness among youth up to the age of 24 according to a new report by True Colors Fund.

The report “is a snapshot of some of the legal, systematic, and environmental barriers and complex challenges youth experiencing homelessness face” in the United States.

According to the report, there is an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults that are homeless in the United States.

New Jersey is the 10th highest state in terms of their ranking system that is allocated by 61 metrics based on the state and is given a score up to 100. According to the report, the metrics encompass each individual laws and policies, systems and environments that in turn affect youth experiencing homelessness.

While New Jersey ranks rather high on the list, we only have a score of 55 – which we share with Oregon. With the highest score in the country being a measly 65 from Washington State, True Colors Fund say “the overall findings reveal that states across the country need to do more to address youth homelessness.”

The report goes on to indicate that many states, including New Jersey, lack laws that provide funding that addressed youth homelessness and comprehensive support services for youth who have run away from home and experiencing homelessness.

New Jersey does not have a grievance process that is in compliance with federal law that allows a homeless student to dispute a decision about his or her eligibility for McKinney-Vento services, a federal law that provides federal money to homeless shelters, school enrollment, or school selection. New Jersey also does not have any regulations on services that help homeless students in their pursuit of higher education.

The report goes on to say that New Jersey generally does not have a plan to end homelessness among youth and have yet to even address the situation. With that, the state also does not have a specific strategy to combat youth homelessness for young people that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

New Jersey also does not have a state agency or entity that is committed solely to focusing on the issue of youth homelessness.

So what should states do to help homeless youth and prevent it in the first place?

The report indicates “key recommendations” and they include taking specific steps to support LGBTQ youth that are disproportionately represented in the population of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness as well as banning abusive and ineffective practices, such as conversion therapy. True Colors Fund also recommends that states should enact laws that should supplement ongoing efforts to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness.

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