YouthCare’s 2024 proposed state legislative agenda looks holistically at addressing systemic gaps impacting young people in our state. We look both at immediate, smaller system improvements to support young people today, and sweeping changes that could decrease generational poverty for the generations to come. 

This legislative agenda is organized around broad themes that advocacy efforts will support this year: supporting youth exiting systems of care; advancing economic justice; and youth-centered capital budget investments. 

As a reminder, the Washington State Legislature operates on a biennial basis, meaning that odd-year sessions are “long,” biennial sessions. Biennial sessions set the state budget for the subsequent two years. Even-year sessions, often called supplemental or “short” sessions, often make corrections or minor updates to the legislation set the previous year. Given that this is a “short” legislative session, our agenda is shorter than it would have been in a “long” session. 

Supporting Youth Exiting Systems of Care 

We know that young people exiting the child welfare, juvenile legal, and behavioral health systems are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness. To change this reality, we are supporting youth-driven measures to ensure that young people exiting these systems have the tools and resources they need to be successful in adulthood. Sample policies in this area include: 

  • Expanding extended foster care 
  • Enhancing financial capabilities for youth 

Key Partners: The Mockingbird Society 

Advancing Economic Justice 

Washington State has the most upside-down tax code in the nation. Our overreliance on sales tax deepens inequality: the bottom twenty percent of income earners in Washington State pay more than five times their annual income in taxes than the top one percent of earners. We believe that the legislature must pass progressive revenue to increase economic opportunity, advance racial equity, and ensure there is a strong and well-funded continuum of human services and housing options in our state. Alongside progressive revenue, we advocate for measures that mitigate economic inequality for our clients and staff. Sample policies include: 

  • Modification of the Real Estate Excise Tax 
  • Direct Cash Transfer for youth & young adults 
  • Washington State Future Fund 

Capital Budget Investments 

Budgets are moral documents. We will advocate for state budgets that invest in needed programming and services for young people. Sample policies in this area include: 

  • YouthCare Constellation Center