The new year is here and with it comes YouthCare’s 2024 proposed state legislative agenda. YouthCare’s 2024 agenda looks holistically at addressing systemic gaps impacting young people in our state. The aim is to address both immediate, smaller system improvements to support young people today, and sweeping changes that could decrease generational poverty for the generations to come.

The current 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 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. A sample policy in this area would include YouthCare’s Constellation Center. The Constellation Center will provide much needed services for young people to build future paths forward within a stable environment.

This agenda is a snapshot of the new year’s legislative priorities for YouthCare. We look forward to continuing to champion the needs of young people facing homelessness along with the challenges of transitioning to stable adulthood. If you’d like to stay up to date and sign up for advocacy alerts, scroll to the end of our legislative agenda page to find the signup form.