RHYMES is a member of Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services (WAHRS). Part of our collective work is to educate about legislative efforts needed to increase the safety and well being of youth and young adults.
Here are some current efforts in Wisconsin that will help meet the unique needs of runaway and homeless youth and young adults.
1. Safe Harbor Anti-Trafficking Legislation
Safe Harbor Anti-Trafficking Legislation for minors would fix a gap between federal and state trafficking laws. Currently in Wisconsin minor children who cannot consent to having sex are being charged with prostitution. The law prevents some children from coming forward as they fear being charged with a crime.
2. Increase formal parental consent window for homeless youth services.
Currently, runaway and homeless youth service providers must gain parental consent within 12 hours or release youth from their care, often to the street. Runaway and homeless youth are among the most vulnerable to be trafficked. It is vital the window of time to gain consent from parents for services expands to 72 hours. It would allow more time for youth to have safe shelter and work with staff to develop a self determined plan for housing needs.
3. Expand Healthcare and Mental Health Care Access for Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied youth need access to dental care, basic medical care, and counseling for non-substance related issues, and currently are unable to access these essential services.