Legislative and Advocacy Updates – Celebrating the Wins and Looking Ahead

A year ago we were taking a breath of relief feeling hopeful for a new Administration, the new opportunities this would mean for young women and gender expansive youth of color, and for the legislative priorities that embraced unity and collaboration. As we commemorate the one year mark, it is important to remember that over the last four years we did not stop fighting for young women and gender expansive youth. While there were not as many wins as we hoped, we continued to advocate, advance, and prioritize the challenges young people face every day.  Focus areas included Young Mothers, Child Welfare, Homeless Youth,  and School Pushout. We worked with Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office to support the END PUSHOUT bill, we signed on to letters and amicus briefs protecting the rights of young women and gender expansive youth, and we attended virtual events to support legislative advancements impacting young people.  In partnership with the Gender Policy Council, The Domestic Policy Council, and various other offices within the administration, we participated in listening sessions where young women and gender expansive youth of color shared their policy priorities. There is so much work to be done and we are excited to continue to elevate the voices of young women and gender expansive youth of color in 2022!

Below you will find a list of legislative highlights ranging from sign on letters to legislation we supported over the past few years. As we move forward, we will continue to strengthen our relationships with allies in the Administration, collaborate with partners, and work with young people to guide us on the priorities we should be advancing.

Prioritized Legislation

VOCA Fix Act of 2021, HR 1652 Introduced 03/08/2021, Signed into Law 7/22/21
(Reps. Nadler & Fitzpatrick; Sens. Durbin & Graham)

  • Promotes vital resources to crime victims and survivors by adding a new source of revenue for the Crime Victims Fund and makes changes to formula grants supported by the fund.

Pushout Bill, HR 2248 Introduced 03/26/2021
(Rep. Pressley)

  • To reduce exclusionary discipline practices in schools, and for other purposes.

Fair Housing for DV and SA Survivors Act, S1122 Introduced 04/14/2021
(Rep. Schultz; Sen. Shaheen)

  • A bill to provide protection for survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence (including sex trafficking) under the Fair Housing Act.

Supporting Foster Youth in Successful Parenting Act H.R. 2682 Introduced 05/25/2017
(Rep. Davis)

  • Offers grants to states to identify and implement approaches that support foster youth in successful parenting and specifies that pregnancy and parenting are sufficient reasons to remain in foster care until age 21, that states must strive to keep parents with their children and that children born to foster youth are not required to enter foster care themselves. Also provides new grants to support the development of “foster youth specific” sex education curriculum to prevent teen pregnancy, and provides supports for those who are pregnant and parenting.

STRONG Support for Children Act of 2021 H.R.3792 Introduced 06/08/2021
(Rep. Pressley)

  • Funds high need trauma-informed care coordination services for pregnant people who face barriers to prenatal care.

RISE from Trauma Act S. 1770 Introduced 06/10/2019
(Sens. Durbin and Capito)

  • Provides partnership grants to prepare general education and special education teachers to support positive learning outcomes and social and emotional development for pregnant and parenting students.

To extend flexible use of John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program funding to address pandemic-related challenges for older foster youth H.R. 5661 Introduced 10/21/2021
(Rep. Davis)

  • Allow states to use flexible Chafee funds through age 26, up to 27.

Additional Introduced Legislation

Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, HR 485 Introduced 01/25/2021; Passed House 03/16/2021
(Reps. Scott & Comer)

  • This bill reauthorizes through FY2027 and revises the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978 to expand services for preventing and treating child abuse.

Emergency Family Stabilization Act, S. 220 Introduced 02/04/2021
(Sens. Murkowski & Manchin)

  • This bill establishes a competitive grant program within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for family stabilization agencies to provide emergency relief to children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.

Justice for Juveniles Act, HR 961 Introduced 02/11/2021
(Reps. Scanlon & Armstrong)

  • Promotes access to justice for young people by exempting juvenile prisoners (under 22 years of age) from various requirements of the inmate grievance procedure, including the requirement to exhaust administrative remedies before filing a federal lawsuit regarding the condition of their confinement.

Human Trafficking Survivor Tax Relief Act, S 895 Introduced 03/23/2021
(Sens. Cornyn & Wyden)

  • For Federal tax purposes, excludes from a survivor’s gross income any civil damages, restitution, or other monetary awards awarded to trafficking survivors related to intentional violent trauma, excluding intimate partner violence.

First Step Implementation, S 1014 Introduced 03/25/2021
(Sens. Durbin & Grassley)

  • A bill to reform sentencing laws and correctional institutions, and for other purposes

Sara’s Law and the Preventing Unfair Sentencing Act, HR 2858 Introduced 04/26/2021
(Reps. Westerman & Bass)

  • To authorize the court to take into account a victim-offender’s trauma history and development in sentencing and allow them to depart from a statutory minimum in the case of a juvenile offender, youthful victim offender, and certain other minors, and for other purposes.

Protecting Miranda Rights For Kids Act, HR 2834 Introduced 04/26/2021
(Rep. Cardenas)

  • This bill makes, subject to certain exceptions, the statements of a minor who waived the privilege against self-incrimination or the right to legal assistance during a custodial interrogation inadmissible in a federal prosecution unless the minor consulted with legal counsel in person and contacted a parent or legal guardian before waiving those rights.

Childhood Offenders Rehabilitation and Safety Act of 2021 H.R. 2908 Introduced 04/30/2021
(Rep. Bass)

  • Establishes minimum age of 12 for a child to be prosecuted in juvenile court, ends automatic transfer and establishes minimum age of 16 before a child can be prosecuted in adult court. Also eliminates felony murder for children, bans children from being housed in adult jails and prisons, and requires the federal government to keep track of children who come into the federal system. 

Written by Lisette Orellana Engel, Senior Director, Policy Advocacy & Youth Engagement.