The commissioner shall establish a statewide grant program to prevent or reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies among homeless, runaway, or thrown-away youth who are at risk of being prostituted or currently being used in prostitution. The goal of the out-of-wedlock pregnancy prevention program is to significantly increase the number of existing short-term shelter beds for these youth in the state. By providing street outreach and supportive services for emergency shelter, transitional housing, and services to reconnect the youth with their families where appropriate, the number of youth at risk of being sexually exploited or actually being sexually exploited, and thus at risk of experiencing an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, will be reduced.
The commissioner shall make funds for street outreach and supportive services for emergency shelter and transitional housing for out-of-wedlock pregnancy prevention available to eligible nonprofit corporations or government agencies to provide supportive services for emergency and transitional housing for at-risk youth. The commissioner shall consider the need for emergency and transitional housing supportive services throughout the state, and must give priority to applicants who offer 24-hour emergency facilities.
(a) A nonprofit corporation or government agency must submit an application to the commissioner in the form and manner the commissioner establishes. The application must describe how the applicant meets the eligibility criteria under paragraph (b). The commissioner may also require an applicant to provide additional information.
(b) To be eligible for funding under this section, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
(1) the applicant must have a commitment to helping the community, children, and preventing juvenile prostitution. If the applicant does not have any past experience with youth involved in or at risk of being used in prostitution, the applicant must demonstrate knowledge of best practices in this area and develop a plan to follow those practices;
(2) the applicant must present a plan to communicate with local law enforcement officials, social services, and the commissioner consistent with state and federal law; and
(3) the applicant must present a plan to encourage homeless, runaway, or thrown-away youth to either reconnect with family or to transition into long-term housing.
(a) Funds available under this section must be used to create and maintain supportive services for emergency shelter and transitional housing for homeless, runaway, and thrown-away youth. Federal TANF funds must be used to serve youth and their families with household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. If other funds are available, services may be provided to youth outside of TANF-eligible families.
(b) Funds available under this section shall not be used to conduct general education or awareness programs unrelated to the operation of an emergency shelter or transitional housing.