The federal statute 42 U.S.C.S. § 5712 (LEXIS L. Publg. 2002), enables the states and private service providers funding for youth centers, temporary shelters, and counseling services. The legislative intent of the statute suggests that Congress was seeking ways to control juvenile delinquency. A common problem surrounding juvenile delinquency is homelessness and lack of supervision. The statute seeks to define homeless youth, and it advances the importance of at-risk youth receiving necessary services. The statute also outlines the criteria a service provider must meet in order to gain access to funding. The statute is very specific in that it leaves the administration of the actual services to providers who qualify under this Act within the complete control of the states. The federal government explicitly states in the statute that all qualifying groups must provide appropriate plans to develop adequate contact between the runaway youths, their parents, and/or the appropriate state officials. The federal government does not refer however, to specifics regarding shelter restrictions. The statute empowers the states to enact any regulations or restrictions in regard to shelters and other treatment services.169
The federal rules state that shelters must notify parents within 24 to 72 hours of the minor's admission. Different states have come up with different ways of dealing with this requirement. For example, the Tennessee statute requires that shelters make a ``good faith'' attempt to contact a youth's parents. Maine requires that a shelter contact the Department of Human Services, but does not require parental notification. In Alaska, Louisiana, and New York, no contact is necessary where compelling reasons are shown against it.170 There is not a great deal of analysis regarding this issue. It is clear that Congress wants to provide services to runaways, but wants them to receive such services under supervised conditions.171
To bring about change at the federal level is a daunting task. JRI should pursue collaborations with other organizations, both at the local and national level, who are opposed to strenuous shelter restrictions. The necessary resources needed to generate the appropriate change at the national level can only be realized if the sum of organizations against shelter restrictions pool resources to meet their desired objectives. In the event that the client tries to seek federal change it could focus on the federal government to require loose shelter restrictions in the statutes funding criteria. If desired, the federal government could amend the funding qualifications regarding shelters, and could increase the time period for mandatory reporting. The remaining analysis and challenges regarding shelter restrictions are on the state level.