Shelter restriction statutes are intended to support a larger legislative aim of accounting for homeless youth and to ensure that some form of administrative action be taken once they are homeless, whether by a local law enforcement agency, state social service agency, or other appropriate administrative body. For example, the Massachusetts shelter restriction statute demands that a minor's presence be reported to The Department of Social Services within 72 hours after shelter staff receives knowledge of the minor's presence at the shelter.
Even though state legislatures may have intended otherwise, shelter restriction statutes make it harder for minors to access services in the short term. Mandatory reporting at shelters discourages homeless youth from seeking shelter services. The risk of being reported often makes youths hesitant to volunteer information about themselves, their situation, or their needs for fear that staff will report them. In addition, an extra burden is put on shelter staff to report minors, thereby decreasing the amount of homeless youth willing to enter shelters for services, or to find a way to provide services to minors without soliciting age or situation specific information from them. Some states have sanctions written into the statute itself for shelters that fail to report the minors. At the very least, shelters that fail to report minors at their facility are at risk of losing their licensing or funding.