LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News) – Homeless youth would be able to access health care without parental consent under a bill sponsored by Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) that is part of a bill package sponsored by Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren) and Rep. John Roth (R-Interlochen).
Under HB 4085, HB 4086 and HB 4087, homeless or runaway youth between the ages of 16 and 21 would have to establish with the childcare institutions’ staff that they do not have access to a safe living environment with their parent and have no other safe alternative living arrangement besides a homeless youth shelter in order to qualify for health care and supervision.
The bills would not apply to individuals involved in juvenile justice or foster care systems.
“Prior to becoming a homeless youth, I hadn’t been to the doctor in years. Within days of joining the transitional living program, I was seen by a doctor,” said Spencer Calhoun, board member at Comprehensive Youth Services and former homeless youth.
The bill would allow the youth to receive medical, dental, or behavioral health examinations, care or treatment.
The bill would not provide access to abortion for homeless or runaway youth without parental consent.
Another bill in the package extends the window during which a homeless or runaway youth can receive care from a child caring institution to 72 hours rather than the current 24 hours while staff in the institution attempt to contact the parent or guardian of the youth to establish consent for the child to participate in the program.
“It’s a little concerning that someone who is 16 or 17 years old can have access to health care without their parents’ knowledge,” said Rep. Jamie Thompson (R-Brownstown).
The programs are intended to get the parents involved as quickly as possible, but urgent medical concerns can still be addressed while communication is being established, said Ben MOE, president of Michigan Network of Youth and Families.
Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit) said she could see a situation where an asthmatic child leaves a dangerous home situation but still needs access to an inhaler to breathe, for which the bill would accommodate.
If the parent or guardian of the homeless or runaway youth was contacted and did not consent to the child receiving services or care from the child caring institution, the parent or guardian would still have the right to take the child home. If the institution detected a safety issue for the child, then Child Protective Services would be contacted.