Two examples of SchoolHouse Connection’s recent successes in state policy advocacy to address youth homelessness:

  • Allowing unaccompanied homeless youth to get their birth certificates and IDs in Tennessee.
  • Empowering homeless unaccompanied minors to enter shelters without parental signature or a child welfare referral, to get a job and services without parental consent in Wyoming.

SchoolHouse Connection’s state policy program, “Building Teams for Change,” supports state-based teams in achieving lasting, state-level policy changes to improve the lives and futures of young people experiencing homelessness. State policy change is especially relevant to addressing youth homelessness, since many of the laws that most directly impact unaccompanied homeless youth – the rights of minors, health care, housing, employment, education, and child welfare – fall within the purview of state legislatures.

Through Building Teams for Change, we are able to provide on-site advocacy training, called “State Advocacy Institutes” in some states. To share this training with the whole country, we are excited to launch a virtual version of our State Advocacy Institute, via a series of three webinars.

State Advocacy Institute, Episode 1

Open to anyone, this webinar will provide an overview of our state advocacy methodology. Starting with surveying young people, service providers, liaisons and other stakeholders, we identify state policy barriers. We then convene advocates to discuss state policy barriers and engage in a series of group activities that leave the attendees ready to engage in state policy advocacy united behind a shared agenda on youth homelessness. This webinar will share our surveys, suggest key stakeholders to include in advocacy, provide a sample State Advocacy Institute agenda and the activities we use in our trainings, and share strategies to engage young people in advocacy from the beginning. We also will address restrictions on “lobbying” and how to be sure your advocacy activities do not cross that line.

>> Wednesday, September 12
>> 2:00 – 3:15 EDT
>> Register Now

State Advocacy Institute, Episode 2

Episode 2 will be an advocacy “how-to” guide. While it will focus on state-level advocacy, the tools and skills shared can be applied to local and federal advocacy, as well. Topics include:

  • How to find your state legislators, relevant committees, and legislative calendar
  • Strategies to connect youth homelessness to existing gubernatorial and legislative priorities, such as trafficking, the opioid crisis, infrastructure, and economic growth
  • Data and research to support legislative action: what they are and how to find them
  • Sample legislative issue briefs, including length, format and content
  • How to set meetings with key legislators
  • Legislative meeting role play

This webinar will be repeated five times, as we will group attendees by their geographic region. This will allow us to delve more specifically into state and regional political concerns. We ask participants to sign up for the webinar that corresponds to your region:

Northeast and Midwest: New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota (HHS and HUD Regions I, II, III and V)

>> Thursday, October 25
>> 11:00 – 12:15 Eastern
>> Register Now

Southeast: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky (HHS and HUD Region IV)

>> Thursday, October 25
>> 1:00 – 2:15 Eastern
>> Register Now

South and Great Plains: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska (HHS and HUD Regions VI and VII)

>> Thursday, October 25
>> 2:00 – 3:15 Central
>> Register Now

Rocky Mountains: Montana, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota (HHS and HUD Region VIII)

>> Friday, October 26
>> 12:00 – 1:15 Mountain
>> Register Now

Northwest and Pacific: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada (HHS and HUD Regions IX and X)

>> Friday, October 26
>> 1:00 – 2:15 Pacific
>> Register Now

State Advocacy Institute: Episode 3

Episode 3 will maintain the regional groupings from Episode 2, but concentrate on strategies to shepherd a legislative proposal through the legislature and into law. Topics will include:

  • Engaging supporters and potential opponents
  • Meeting with opponents role play
  • Specific examples of bill language to address the most common state law issues raised in our surveys;
  • Choosing and approaching bill sponsors;
  • Identifying and approaching potential opponents in the legislature;
  • Selecting witnesses and designing testimony

Dates to be determined

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