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Foreword

They are four times as likely to be Black, and are two-and-a-half times as likely to be Latinx. Almost one-quarter of them identify as LGBTQ+ and 60% of them are pregnant or parenting. They are aged 24 or under, are not in the care of a parent or guardian, and lack safe or stable housing. They are the 3,789 unaccompanied youth and young adults who experienced homelessness within Massachusetts in 2018, at our state's last count.

Behind each one of those numbers and statistics is the face of a young person. They may be continually moving from one living situation to another. They may be going to school every day struggling to get parental permission slips signed, or they may have dropped out of school. They may be worried about their immigration status. They may be experiencing domestic or dating violence. They may fit into many of these categories. Yet each one of these designations comes with a whole host of legal complexities. That’s where the Homeless Youth Handbook- Massachusetts comes in.

This Handbook was the collaborative effort of over 100 volunteer lawyers, advocates, and experts to equip homeless youth with the answers they need to successfully navigate being a teen parent, getting an ID, applying for public benefits, living in foster care or coming into contact with the police. But we couldn’t have done it alone. We are grateful for the young people at Bridge Over Troubled Waters and My Life My Choice who offered their stories and lived experiences to us, ensuring that this Handbook will be a genuinely useful tool for youth experiencing homelessness across the state of Massachusetts.

The feedback we received from these young people served to amplify the collaboration between the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Liberty Mutual, Boston Scientific, and Backer McKenzie, whose partnerships brought this Handbook to life to serve the broader community.

Massachusetts Appleseed is a research and advocacy non-profit, whose mission is topromote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. Central to this mission is ensuring that all residents of Massachusetts, especially children and youth, have access to opportunity and basic necessities such as food and shelter.

At Liberty Mutual, we believe progress happens when people feel secure. We strive to empower people who are experiencing homelessness by supporting organizations that help meet a continuum of needs, not only through grants but also though employees’ volunteer efforts, such as helping to write this handbook.

Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. Boston Scientific empowers its employees to Advance Possibilities in their local communities by donating their time, talent and resources to help those most in need.

Baker McKenzie is a global law firm with an equally robust pro bono practice helping underserved populations across the world. Baker McKenzie is a known advocate and thought-leader for children's rights both nationally and globally. Baker launched the Homeless Youth Handbook resource in 2013 and has continued to partner with non-profits and corporations focused on youth who are experiencing homelessness to create this resource around the country.

We owe our deepest gratitude to the many organizations and professionals who serve the homeless youth of Massachusetts each and every day. Many of these same organizations and individuals contributed to the creation of this Handbook, sharing their knowledge and expertise, and for that we are also extremely grateful. We sincerely hope that this Handbook serves as a valuable resource to our state’s youth and to those social workers, counselors, teachers, homeless liaisons, health care professionals, and many others who provide them with daily support.

 

Colin Murray
CEO, North America
Baker McKenzie

Desiree Ralls-Morrison
SVP and General Counsel
Boston Scientific

James Kelleher
Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer
Liberty Mutual

Deborah Silva
Executive Director
Massachusetts Appleseed