Bill Text: DE HB296 | 2011-2012 | 146th General Assembly | Draft

Bill Title: An Act To Amend Title 16 Of The Delaware Code Relating To Services For Runaway And Homeless Youth.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 12-4)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2012-04-03 - Introduced in House and assigned to Health & Human Development Committee [HB296 Detail]

Download: Delaware-2011-HB296-Draft.html


Rep. Bolden & Sen. Ennis


Reps. Barbieri, Bennett, Jaques, Kowalko, Osienski, Schooley, D. Short, M. Smith, Walker, Willis; Sens. Connor, Marshall, Sokola, Sorenson






(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that the current system of identifying, supporting, and statistically tracking runaway and homeless youth is ineffective at meeting the needs of this population in crisis.Runaway and homeless youth is a serious issue which impacts Delaware's social and economic future.Data suggests that downturns in the economy yield increases in runaway and homeless youth.

(1) Nationally, there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends, or with strangers; 

(2) Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death; 

(3) It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide;

(4) National data reveals that one in seven young people between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away, and 75 percent of those runaways are female

(5) Youth age 12 to 17 are more at risk of homelessness than adults;

(6) It is further estimated that nationally 46 percent of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused, 38 percent reported being emotionally abused , and 17 percent reported being forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member, and 75 percent of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out or will drop out of school.

(b) The General Assembly finds and declares that enacting targeted legislation providing foruniform statewide protocols in identifying runaway and homeless youth, designating specialized support services, and annually reporting statistical findings related to the number of youth in crisis and the effectiveness of state support services, will appropriately address the urgencies associated with runaway and homeless youth in crisis.


As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) Homeless youth. "Homeless youth" means a person 21 years of age or younger who is

unaccompanied by a parent or guardian and is without shelter where appropriate care and supervision are available, whose parent or legal guardian is unable or unwilling to provide shelter and care or who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. "Homeless youth" does not include a person incarcerated or otherwise detained under federal or state law.

(2) Fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. "Fixed, regular and adequate

nighttime residence" means a dwelling at which a person resides on a regular basis that adequately provides safe shelter. "Fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence" does not include a publicly or privately operated institutional shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations; transitional housing; a temporary placement with a peer, friend or family member who has not offered a permanent residence; residential lease or temporary lodging for more than 30 days; or a public or private place not designed for, nor ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

(3) Runaway. "Runaway" means an unmarried child at least 12 years of age and under 18 years of age who is absent from the home of a parent or guardian or other lawful placement without the consent of the parent, guardian or lawful custodian.

§199.Comprehensive Program for Runaway and Homeless Youth.

The Department of Health and Social Services shall establish and support a comprehensive program for homeless youth in the State by contracting with organizations and agencies licensed by the department that provide street outreach, shelter and transitional living services for homeless youth. The department shall by rule establish licensure requirements and shall establish performance-based contracts with organizations and agencies to provide the following programs and services:

(1)     Street and community outreach and drop-in programs. Youth drop-in centers.

to provide walk-in access to crisis intervention and ongoing supportive services, including one-to-one case management services on a self-referral basis and street and community outreach programs to locate, contact and provide information, referrals and services to homeless youth, youth at risk of homelessness, and runaways. Information, referrals and services provided may include, but are not limited to family reunification services; conflict resolution or mediation counseling; assistance in obtaining temporary emergency shelter; case management aimed at obtaining food, clothing, medical care or mental health counseling; counseling regarding violence, prostitution, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and pregnancy; referrals to other agencies that provide support services to homeless youth, youth at

risk of homelessness and runaways; assistance with education, employment and independent living skills; aftercare services; and specialized services for highly vulnerable runaways and homeless youth, including teen parents, sexually exploited youth and youth with mental illness or developmental disabilities;

(2)     Emergency shelter program. Emergency shelter programs to provide homeless youth

and runaways with referrals and walk-in access to short-term residential care on an emergency basis. The program must provide homeless youth and runaways with safe, dignified, voluntary housing, including private shower facilities, beds and at least one meal each day, and assist a runaway with reunification with family or a legal guardian when required or appropriate. The services provided at emergency shelters may include, but are not limited to, family reunification services or referral to safe, dignified housing; individual, family and group counseling; assistance obtaining clothing; access to medical and dental care and mental health counseling; education and employment services; recreational activities; case management, advocacy, and referral services; independent living skills training; and aftercare, follow-up services and transportation; and;

(3) Transitional living programs. Transitional living programs to help homeless youth find and maintain safe, dignified housing. The program may also provide rental assistance and related supportive services or may refer youth to other organizations or agencies that provide such services.Services provided may include, but are not limited to, provision of safe, dignified housing; educational assessment and referrals to educational programs; career planning, employment, job skills, and independent living skills training; job placement; budgeting and money management; assistance in securing housing appropriate to needs and income; counseling regarding violence, prostitution, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy; referral for medical services or chemical dependency treatment; parenting skills; self-sufficiency support services or life skills training; and aftercare and follow-up services.

§200.Parental Notification, Consent or Permission.

An emergency shelter, a shelter care facility, or a program that provides services to runaway or homeless youth may provide the services to a child without notification, consent, or permission of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian.

§201.Data Collection and Reporting.

On or before February 1, 2013, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services shall submit a report organizing and summarizing data from its licensed organizations and agencies to ensure that appropriate and high-quality services are being delivered to runaway and homeless youth and shall use the data to monitor the success of the contracts and programs as well as changes in the rates of homelessness among youth in the State.The report shall include the following information, for the preceding calendar year, for runaway and homeless youth supported by the department:

(1) The number and age of such youth who are living in a psychiatric hospital or residential treatment center, the average length of stay for such youth, the number of youth who have overstayed their estimated placement time in such placements, and an analysis of the reasons for the placements out-of-state and overstays;

(2) the number and age of such youth who are runaways or homeless, the number of days that each youth has been a runaway or homeless, and an analysis of the trends relating to runaways and homelessness;

(3) the number and age of youth who have a permanency plan of another planned permanency living arrangement and an analysis of the trends relating to permanency plans; and

(4) the number and age of youth who have refused services offered by the department and an analysis of the trends relating to participation in services.


The Department of Health and Social Services shall adopt rules as may be necessary for the effective administration of the comprehensive program provided for under this subchapter.


The existing laws underserve runaway and homeless youth. This Bill will address needs of these youth in crisis in meaningful, effective, efficient, and cost effective ways.This Act establishes a comprehensive system of support resources and services that directly targets the runaway and homeless youth population.Data collection and reporting is also required by this Bill as a means of measuring the effectiveness of the programming and to promote future program design and implementation.This data will also reveal important predictors which can assist with identifying troubled youth before they are in crisis.