UNDERSTANDING YOUTH RIGHTS: Helping Providers Navigate the Laws and Policies Affecting Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

The laws about runaway, homeless, or unaccompanied youth can seem to be confusing and vague. While physically apart from their parent or guardian, homeless youth lack certain rights that can lead to confusion about legal issues of consent, eligibility for emancipation, parents’ rights, accessing shelter, public education, health care, and public benefits. Recognizing these challenges, the Texas Network of Youth Services compiled this guide to assist providers with the most common legal questions they may face when working with homeless or unaccompanied youth.

Each section of the guide contains answers to the most frequently asked questions related to each subject and offers general guidelines for most situations. Also included are definitions of common terms and phrases used in the law and by government organizations.

The information in this publication is published as a public service and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal counsel.