Lawmakers discuss bill to improve youth homeless shelters

The bill would increase funding from $2 million to $2.5 million a year.
Maine State House
Maine State House(WABI)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Several bills were introduced in Augusta today before the Committee on Health and Human Services regarding youth homeless shelters.

One extends the stay at youth homeless and emergency shelters from 30 consecutive days or nights to 90.

It also allows children to be at the shelter for 30 days before their parents or guardians are contacted.

The bill would increase funding from $2 million to $2.5 million a year.

Maine currently has three youth shelters across the state.

Those in favor of the bill say the shelters are in need of funding and more time to work with the children.

“That 90 days gives us a window to support a young person who is coming to us in a state of crisis, help them mitigate that crisis, assess where they are and what they want, and then help them develop the skills to get that positive outcome,” said Chris Bicknell, executive director of New Beginnings.

“We believe 90 days in our opinion is a bit too long and may not create that sense of urgency in order to have a youth move as quickly as possible out of a homeless shelter,” said Todd Landry, director of child and family services with the Maine DHHS.

There is currently an executive order allowing youth to stay at shelters for 60 days due to COVID-19.

Todd Landry with DHHS is in favor of a separate bill that would keep that provision instead of 90 days.

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