OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, today won committee passage of a bill that would help homeless youth get access to housing, medical care, education and other services.
House Bill 1739 creates the Connecting Futures Act, which would allow the Department of Human Services to create a pilot program with social service providers to address 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.
“Many young people throughout our state are separated from any kind of support system, and they need our help,” Dills said. “This act would give these young people access to vital services so we can help them become successful adults.”
Dills said there are many youth who for whatever reason have become homeless and have not fit into the state’s foster care system. These youth have a high incidence of dropping out of school and not being equipped for jobs. Many don’t even have access to necessary documents such as their birth certificates or social security numbers so they can gain drivers licenses or employment. Too many end up in poverty, in the state’s penal system or worse. The Connecting Futures Act could change that trajectory by identifying barriers facing this population and identifying solutions and resources to help them. She said the program is designed for youth between the ages of 15 and 18.
HB 1739 passed the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee with a vote of 5-0. It now is eligible to be considered in the House.