Runaway and Homeless Youth, 93030-93064 [2016-30241]

Download as PDF 93030 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 2008 (Pub. L. 110–378). Specifically, under 42 U.S.C. 5702, ‘‘the Secretary of Health and Human Services . . . may issue such rules as the Secretary considers necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this subchapter.’’ DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families 45 CFR Part 1351 RIN 0970–AC43 Runaway and Homeless Youth Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule reflects existing statutory requirements in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and changes made via the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008. More specifically, the rule establishes program performance standards for Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees providing services to eligible youth and their families. Revisions have been made to the rule regarding additional requirements that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach Programs, including nondiscrimination, background checks, outreach, and training. Furthermore, the rule updates existing regulations to reflect statutory changes made to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and updates procedures for soliciting and awarding grants. This final rule makes changes to the proposed rule published on April 14, 2014, and is in response to public comments recommending ways to improve the rule. DATES: This final rule is effective January 19, 2017. However, compliance with the new performance standards is not required until the beginning of the next budget period after promulgation of this final rule. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher Holloway, (202) 205–9560 (not a toll-free call). Deaf and hearing impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay Service at 1– 800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 I. Statutory Authority This final rule is published under the authority granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974), 42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq. as amended by the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 II. Background The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (‘‘the Act’’) authorizes three major grant programs administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These programs support local efforts to assist youth who have run away or are homeless. The Basic Center Grant Program (hereafter referred to as the Basic Center Program) funds grants to communitybased public and nonprofit private agencies (and combinations of such entities) to establish and operate local centers to provide services for runaway and homeless youth and for the families of such youth. Services provided include the provision of outreach, crisis intervention, temporary shelter, counseling, family unification, and aftercare services to runaway and homeless youth and their families. Basic Center projects generally serve youth under 18 years of age and can provide up to 21 days of shelter. The Transitional Living Grant Program (hereafter referred to as the Transitional Living Program) provides grants to public and private organizations to establish and operate transitional living youth projects for homeless youth, including for community-based shelter including group homes, host family homes, and supervised apartments for youth, ages 16 to under 22, who cannot safely live with their own families. Transitional Living projects provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for up to 21 months. Young people who have not yet reached their 18th birthday at the end of the 21-month period may continue to receive services until they turn 18. Services include counseling in basic life skills, interpersonal skill building, educational advancement, job attainment skills, and physical and mental health care. These services are designed to help youth who are homeless develop the skills necessary to make a successful transition to selfsufficient living. The Transitional Living Program also funds Maternity Group Homes, which are specifically designed to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting youth. PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 The Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (hereafter referred to as the Street Outreach Program) provides grants to nonprofit private agencies for street-based outreach and education, including treatment, counseling, provision of information, and referrals for runaway, homeless, and street youth 21 years and younger who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse, prostitution or sexual exploitation. The Act also authorizes additional activities conducted through grants, including grants for research, evaluation, and service projects; grants for a national communications system to assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with their families and service providers; and grants for technical assistance and training. This final rule covers all of these activities. The Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008 (hereafter referred to as ‘‘the 2008 Act’’) (Pub. L. 110–378) reauthorized the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (hereafter referred to as ‘‘the Act’’) through federal fiscal year (FY) 2013, and made a number of changes to the Act, including a requirement for the establishment of performance standards. Specifically, section 386A of the 2008 Act, Performance Standards, requires that: (1) HHS issue rules that specify performance standards; (2) HHS consult with grantees and national nonprofit organizations concerned with youth homelessness in developing those standards; and (3) HHS integrate the performance standards into the HHS processes for grant making, monitoring, and evaluation for the three major grant programs under the Act. We have already implemented elements of these statutory mandates through funding opportunity announcements, technical assistance and training, and data collection. This final rule allows us to complete implementation of these legislative requirements. In addition, it will bring the program’s codified regulations, last updated August 17, 2000 (65 FR 50139), into conformity with existing statutory provisions, the administrative and managerial procedures we already use in accordance with the 2008 Act, and previous statutory changes. We intend to provide technical assistance to grantees that focuses on effective implementation of these performance standards, and to implement them as new budget periods begin, after promulgation of this final rule, rather than in the middle of an existing budget period. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 III. Consultation and the Development of the Final Rule In keeping with the requirements of the 2008 Act, the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) sought input from grantees and other stakeholders prior to the development of the proposed rule. In April 2009, FYSB conducted a consultation forum that brought together forty-four individuals including subject experts, technical assistance providers, Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) grantees, federal staff, persons with extensive program monitoring experience, and national, regional and statewide youth servicing organization representatives. FYSB also obtained stakeholder perspectives and other information to inform the proposed rule in a number of additional ways. Since 2008, we have conducted national conferences bringing together all stakeholder groups and allowing for broad, informal exchanges of views. One such conference, the 2008 Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantee Conference was attended by 442 participants (including representatives from 252 grantee organizations) to share ideas, promising approaches, and best practices. Participants met in over 30 different workshops addressing both universal issues and specific programmatic needs of the three major RHY programs. Through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Centers, we have conducted an extensive training, technical assistance, and monitoring effort aimed not only at assisting grantees, but also at obtaining their feedback on operational issues. In tandem with these efforts, we conducted an in-depth review of existing regulatory and sub-regulatory issuances and developed a comprehensive set of on-site review materials, in use since February 2009. These consultative processes provided valuable input that we used in formulating the performance and procedural standards. Importantly, the input we received emphasized that: • The standards should promote an integrated, holistic approach to service delivery. • The standards should be responsive to the complex social identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/ spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs) of clients. • The standards should serve as models for program quality and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 encourage programs to strive for excellence. • The standards should achieve a balance between clarity and precision of regulatory intent and regulatory flexibility so that programs can be most responsive to local needs, settings, and circumstances. • The standards should place emphasis on family-focused aspects of the program by strengthening links with local community providers, and helping families identify and address individualized goals. • Standards of any kind—whether performance or procedural—should facilitate rather than impede local flexibility in creating and operating effective programs that respond to local needs and priorities. • Standards should not unnecessarily impose burdensome requirements that would divert local resources away from service. We retained these principles in developing the final rule. As we stated in the proposed rule, we believe that ‘‘Regular measurement of progress toward specified outcomes is a vital component of any effort at managingfor-results.’’ (Harry P. Hatry, Performance Measurement, Urban Institute Press, 2006). However, we recognized that effective, workable, and successful performance standards are extremely difficult to formulate and often need amending over time. Among the difficulties encountered are: (1) Some of the most important goals may be qualitative rather than quantitative; (2) near-term results may not correctly signal long-term effects; (3) measurement and appraisal may reduce the resources available for services; and (4) local circumstances may vary and achieving a lower absolute result in some settings may actually reflect superior performance over other settings because difficulties were greater. Despite these difficulties, we have increasingly incorporated performance measures and standards into the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program’s ongoing operations to drive program improvement and help assure accountability. The standards and measures in this rule are appropriate, realistic, and consistent with the underlying complexity of the problems and processes involved in serving homeless and runaway youth. In the proposed rule preamble, we stated that we welcomed comments on whether our proposed standards struck the proper balance in meeting the objectives stated above, including measuring the most important program goals that are feasible to measure, preserving flexibility to grantees, and PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93031 minimizing unnecessary burden. We asked for suggestions, particularly those supported by research or evaluative evidence, for improvements in the proposed standards. To assist in such comments, we provided specific regulatory text that commenters could review and suggest changes. As described later in this preamble, we received useful and detailed comments from individuals, providers, advocacy groups, government agencies, and others that have assisted us in making the decisions reflected in this final rule. As a result of the consultative and rulemaking process, this final rule codifies a targeted number of process and procedural requirements in order to minimize burden to grantees and to provide grantees flexibility in meeting their performance standards and in dealing with unique circumstances in their communities. This final rule reflects that there are many effective practices that are best handled through technical assistance and training rather than established as regulatory standards. We will work closely with our grantees in implementation of this final rule through our training and technical assistance activities to ensure they thoroughly understand the new standards and reporting requirements. IV. Scope of the Final Rule This final rule establishes Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Performance Standards to help assess the quality and effectiveness of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program nationally by providing indicators of successful outcomes for youth. The performance standards will be used to monitor individual grantee performance in achieving the purposes of the Act. Program projects will also be subject to other requirements including other applicable regulations (e.g., civil rights regulations), and those cited in funding opportunity announcements. This final rule also makes largely technical changes to existing program rules to conform to current law and to correct outdated provisions. Equally important, it revises our regulatory provisions on making awards to reflect the performance standards and to reflect onsite review and monitoring procedures that have been in place for a number of years. This final rule is effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; however, compliance with the new performance standards will not be required until the beginning of the next budget period (October 1) after the effective date of the final rule. This will allow existing grantees time to come into compliance with the new E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93032 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 standards, and provide time for us to assist grantees, and avoid confusion that may result from changing standards in the middle of budget periods. To assist grantees, we will provide them with guidance on best practices for implementing the standards. We will also conduct additional technical assistance to help grantee agencies understand and implement the new standards. We intend the final rule to complement our other efforts to strengthen Runaway and Homeless Youth grantee monitoring and to improve the overall program. V. Summary of Public Comments We received 72 responsive and unique comments or sets of comments on the proposed rule, not including comments that were word-for-word identical. Multiple organizations and individuals endorsed several of these comment sets, and the total number of commenting individuals and organizations was about 300. About a dozen comments expressed overall support for the rule and made no specific suggestions for change. Without exception, the substantive comments reflect an understanding of the many problems affecting runaway and homeless youth, and of the many challenges that arise in administering programs for these youth. This understanding was evident in not only comments from advocacy groups and other organized commenters, but also the comments from individual service providers and from concerned individuals. We were able to accommodate many, but not all, of the recommendations in these comments. In some cases, the statute gives us little or no flexibility to accept commenter recommendations. In other cases, we agree that the comment raises an important issue, but not that the issue can or should be addressed through this regulation. Many recommendations in the comments address issues that we believe are best addressed either in implementation guidance, in funding opportunity announcements, or in individual decisions by service providers themselves. Other issues raised involved the respective roles of federal and state governments, or of other agencies or programs involved in the lives of these youth (e.g., housing programs, juvenile justice system). In our response to each issue raised by commenters, we address these factors insofar as they affect the decision in the final rule. These exceptions aside, we accepted many dozens of suggested changes in whole or in part, and believe that the comments were helpful in improving the final rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 VI. Section-by-Section Discussion of the Regulatory Provisions, Issues, and Comments We received a number of comments that did not address a particular section of the proposed rule either directly or by inference. We address those first. Comment: One commenter said that the law needs to make room for faithbased programs. Response: We did not make any changes to the final rule in response to this comment because the existing ACF Policy on Grants to Faith-Based Organizations already establishes ACF’s commitment to partnering with faithbased organizations. More specifically, the ACF Policy on Grants to Faith-Based Organizations states the following: ‘‘This administration is committed to providing the full range of legally permissible services to people who need them, and to doing so in a timely fashion and in a manner that respects the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of those we serve. At the same time, we also are committed to finding ways for organizations to partner with us even if they object to providing specific services on religious grounds.’’ The full policy can be found here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/acf-policyon-grants-to-faith-based-organizations. Comment: One commenter pointed out that our background preamble discussion of transitional housing being a ‘‘long-term environment,’’ in light of the 21-month period for which such housing can be provided in the Transitional Living Program as compared to the 21-day period allowed in the Basic Center Program, is not seen as a long-term solution in housing programs administered by HUD. Response: We agree that the Transitional Living Program services are not permanent housing solutions, or even long-term when compared to the housing options that HUD offers. As indicated throughout the proposed and final rules, one of the major priorities of the RHY Program is, whenever reasonably and safely possible, to return youth to their family homes for support until they can find their own longerterm solutions, or, when reunification is not possible, to assist youth in establishing more permanent arrangements. Within the context of the Continuum of Care Program, as defined by HUD, and its housing and service structure, TLP is considered transitional housing and BCP is considered emergency shelter. Neither is considered to be a permanent placement. We have therefore deleted PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 references to ‘‘long-term’’ transitional living services throughout this rule. Comment: One commenter asked that we add a requirement that youth served by these programs be actively involved in developing these services, through meaningful leadership positions and involvement in policy development and evaluation. Research supporting this position was provided. Response: The idea is worth future consideration. We think it would likely present concerns if established as a regulatory requirement at this point in time, in part because it was not presented as a proposal for the public, including stakeholders, to comment on. Subpart A. Definition of Terms The significant terms in § 1351.1 reflect current statutory terminology and operating practice. We proposed to revise a number of existing definitions, to add a number of definitions, to delete a few definitions that we do not believe are useful or necessary, and to change the format of the definitions. We requested comment on each new or revised definition. The additions and revisions are intended to reflect both recent changes to the statute and important practices in the administration of the program. The definitions section applies to all grants under the Act. Each individual definition only applies where it is applicable to each type of grant. We received comments on many, but not all, of the definitions. We are leaving unchanged and as proposed the definitions on which we received no comments. These include the following terms: Act, client, drop-in center, drug abuse education and prevention services, runaway and homeless youth project, short-term training, state, supervised apartments, and technical assistance. Act We received no comments on this definition and have retained it in this final rule. Aftercare We proposed to revise the definition of Aftercare to read: ‘Aftercare means additional services provided beyond the period of residential stay that offer continuity and supportive follow-up to youth served by the program.’ Comment: We received one comment on this definition. That comment suggested that we not limit this term to residential care, pointing out that aftercare could apply to non-residential services. The commenter also suggested adding a reference to the family. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Response: The only two programs affected by this regulation that would have an aftercare component are residential programs (BCP and TLP), so it is not appropriate to expand the aftercare definition to programs that are not residential. Regarding the request to add references to families receiving aftercare services, our statutory mission under § 312(b)(5) of the Act includes a provision to ‘‘develop an adequate plan for providing counseling and aftercare services to such youth, [and] for encouraging the involvement of their parents or legal guardians in counseling . . . ’’ We interpret the statute as intending the aftercare provision to be provided for youth specifically but we do encourage parental involvement. Therefore, we have retained the proposed rule language in this final rule. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Area We proposed to delete the existing regulatory definition of ‘‘area’’ in the NPRM because a precise definition is not required for the purposes of the program. Receiving no comments, we have deleted it in this final rule. Background Check We received a dozen unique comments on this definition and/or on the related requirement in proposed § 1351.20(l), which is numbered § 1351.23(j) in this final rule, (requirements that apply to all Runaway and Homeless Youth Program local services grants) that all grantees ‘‘shall conduct complete background checks on all employees and volunteers.’’ These comments represent in total over a hundred individuals and organizations. Most of the comments argued that the definition and/or requirement as worded were too broad and would be both expensive, time consuming (weeks for responses from some states), and disruptive of program operations. Comments: Several comments objected to making this a national background check, rather than one focused on state records. These comments argued that this would be both burdensome and time consuming. One commenter suggested adding consultants as individuals who should be subject to background checks. Several commenters objected to subjecting volunteers to the same check as employees (e.g., checking employment records and driving records for volunteers). Other commenters felt that the proposed definition was ambiguous as to what was required for volunteers’ background checks. In particular, several VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 commenters pointed out that many volunteers may be one-time attendees at particular events, that some staff and volunteers may not work directly with youth, and that some volunteers may not have unsupervised contact with youth; these commenters recommended exemptions in cases such as these. As examples, volunteers might be used to cook hot meals on holidays, might be guest speakers, or might visit one time as a member of a community group. Several commenters asked whether the driving record check would apply only to those who transport youth. One commenter pointed out that some kinds of criminal backgrounds do not pose serious risk of harm to the grantee or clients, and asked for clarification that employment of such persons (who might have committed minor crimes as youth) not be prohibited. Several commenters noted that there was ambiguity as to what kind of national check might be required and several pointed out that at least one state performed an out-of-state check only for states in which the person has recently lived. Response: In order to provide clarity, we have revised the final rule to address many of the above comments. We agree that the proposed rule needed more clarity regarding what kinds of background checks are required. As a result, we have revised the final rule at § 1351.23(j) to clarify that grantees shall conduct a background check on all employees, contractors, volunteers, and consultants who have regular and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the grantee, and on all adults who reside in or operate host homes. We do not agree with the comments that request background checks only include state records. Both state and national records are necessary for youth safety. However, we did revise the final rule to provide clarity on which background checks are required. We did not address background check fees in this rule. We understand programs may bear costs associated with background checks and we encourage programs to use the resources available to them and consider ways to allocate funds differently to cover these costs. In the interest of youth safety and to be mindful that all parties have an obligation to exercise due diligence, our proposed definition and related requirements for background checks have been revised in the final rule. We have revised the definition of background check for employees, consultants, contractors, and employment applicants to include: State or tribal criminal history records (including fingerprint checks); Federal PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93033 Bureau of Investigation criminal history records including fingerprint checks, (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award); a child abuse and neglect registry check (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award); and a sex offender registries check. The plans, procedures, and standards must identify background check findings that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment to provide services for which assistance is made available in accordance with this part. To further protect children’s safety, in § 1351.20(l), which is numbered § 1351.23(j) in this final rule, we also require that programs document the justification for any hire where an arrest, pending criminal charge, or conviction is present. Budget Period In the NPRM, we proposed defining the term Budget Period as ‘‘Budget period means the interval of time into which a multi-year period of assistance (project period) is divided for budgetary and funding purposes. ’’ We received no comments on this definition. However, this definition was used only in proposed § 1351.34, which, as described below, has been removed from this final rule. Therefore, we are also removing this definition from the final rule. Case Management Case management is a central concept in serving client youth, and we proposed to add a definition to read: Case management means assessing the needs of the client and, as appropriate, arranging, coordinating, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for a package of services to meet the specific needs of the client. Comment: We received one comment on this definition, asking that we add the phrase ‘‘identification of needs.’’ Response: In the interest of clarity we have made the requested change, and have also included new language making clear that identifying the needs of a client should be done in consultation with the client. Client We did not receive any comments on this definition and therefore have retained the proposed definition in the final rule. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93034 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Congregate Care We proposed congregate care to read: Congregate care means a shelter type that combines living quarters and restroom facilities with centralized dining services, shared living spaces, and access to social and recreational activities. Comments: We received two comments on the definition of congregate care suggesting that it too closely aligned with the definition of family home. Response: We agree with the comments and have adjusted the definition to add the qualification that a congregate care shelter is not a family home. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Contact Contacting homeless youth is a core function of the entire program, and the primary function of the Street Outreach Program. We proposed to define Contact to read: Contact means the engagement between Street Outreach Program staff and homeless youth in need of services that could reasonably lead to shelter or significant harm reduction. Closely related to this definition, and dependent on this definition, is § 1351.32, where we proposed as a performance measure for the Street Outreach Program the total number of contacts made by the project, giving the projects credit for repeatedly reaching youth. Comment: We received twelve comments on, either, the definition of contact, the performance measure, or both. Some comments represented multiple individuals and organizations, about 200 in total. Several of these comments argued that the definition should include explicit references to locations frequented by homeless youth. Most argued it should be broadened to include street youth at risk of homelessness or runaway status, not just those already in those situations, pointing out that the statute uses the term ‘‘at risk’’ in describing the purpose of the Street Outreach Program. Response: We appreciate these comments and have made most of the suggested changes. Although the multiple settings in which youth might be contacted are implicit in the proposed definition, we agree that it adds clarity to list some of them. We agree that ‘‘at risk’’ youth should count as contacts and are adding this to the definition. Accordingly, we have revised the definition to say that Contact includes ‘‘youth who are at risk of homelessness or runaway status or homeless youth in need of services that could reasonably lead to shelter or significant harm reduction’’ and have VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 added a sentence saying, ‘‘[t]his contact may occur on the streets, at a drop-in center, or at other locations known to be frequented by homeless, runaway, or street youth.’’ Core Competencies of Youth Worker Core competencies are essential in providing services that lead to improved outcomes for clients. We proposed to add a definition for core competencies of youth worker to read: Core competencies of youth worker means the ability to demonstrate skills in six domain areas: (1) Professionalism (including, but not limited to, consistent and reliable job performance, awareness and use of professional ethics to guide practice), (2) applied positive youth development approach (including, but not limited to, skills to develop a positive youth development plan and identifying the client’s strengths in order to best apply a positive youth development framework), (3) cultural and human diversity (including, but not limited to, gaining knowledge and skills to meet the needs of clients of a different race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, gender identity/ expression, sexual orientation), (4) applied human development (including, but not limited to, understanding the needs of those at risk and with special needs), (5) relationship and communication (including, but not limited to, working with clients in a collaborative manner), and (6) developmental practice methods (including, but not limited to, utilizing methods focused on genuine relationships, health and safety, intervention planning). Comment: We received six unique comments on the definition of core competencies of youth workers. One commenter expressed the hope that items number (3) and (4) mean to address and include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Another commenter recommended that item number (6) add the importance of working within an ‘‘ecological framework’’ that understands family and community and the role of the worker and client within that framework. Two commenters expressed the hope that youth workers will progress toward becoming certified by either state or national certifying bodies, and are guided in their professional development by competency domains and manuals developed by a national certifying body. One commenter said that all staff need not be trained in all competencies. Response: We appreciate these comments and have made no changes in PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 the final rule. The details of skills development among youth workers within the domain areas we identify will depend on education, training, and on-the-job experience, much of which will be unique to individual workers and their work assignments. We expect that such education and training will often utilize the perspectives and materials mentioned in the comments, but see no reason to add such detail in a codified rule. Regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth, we do intend the core competencies of youth workers to address and include the needs of these youth, and believe that this is clear in the standards as written. As for the comment on not all staff needing training in all competencies, we agree. We address this in the final text of § 1351.23. We expect youth workers to complete core competency training in order to effectively fulfill their job responsibilities working with runaway and homeless youth. We do not expect that every staff person to be trained in core competencies, but all staff members who work directly with youth should receive training sufficient to meet the stated core-competencies of youth workers. Counseling Services We proposed to revise the definition of counseling services to include runaway prevention and intervention related services as follows: Counseling services means the provision of guidance, support, referrals for services including, but not limited to, health services, and advice to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families, as well as to youth and families when a young person is at risk of running away. These services are designed to alleviate the problems that have put a youth at risk of running away or contributed to his or her running away or being homeless. We received six unique comments on our proposed revision, several of them endorsed by many individuals or organizations. Comment: One commenter asked why the first sentence of the definition didn’t directly say homeless. Response: We think that the definition as worded, which includes the phrase ‘‘runaway or otherwise homeless youth’’, clearly includes homeless youth, and have not made this change. Comment: One commenter said that counseling services should explicitly include therapeutic services, including trauma-informed psychotherapy. Relatedly, two other comments recommended removing the word ‘‘advice’’ and replacing it with ‘‘clinical E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations services’’ to include mental health counseling and psychotherapy. Response: We do not agree with the comments suggesting that we require therapeutic or clinical mental health care services in place of ‘‘advice.’’ The Act does not authorize grantees to provide health care services directly and our grants do not include funding for professional health care providers. Our grantees’ counseling services are intended to provide both advice and referrals when mental health services are needed (see our following discussion of health care services). Accordingly, we have not made this change. Comment: Two commenters said that many youth were ‘‘forced out’’ of family homes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, that a term such as ‘‘where appropriate and in the best interest of youth’’ should condition the language concerning advice and counseling for families, and that the word ‘‘families’’ should include ‘‘individuals identified by such youth as family’’ (to include legally unrelated individuals with whom youth have ‘‘strong, supportive relationships’’). These comments pointed out that parental abandonment or rejection is often the cause of runaway or homeless status among LGBTQ youth. Response: We agree with the commenters who focused on the point that youth are often ‘‘forced out’’ of family homes. As to advice and counseling, the Act expresses a strong preference for reuniting youth and their families, and therefore, we expect grantees to work towards reunification as appropriate and safe for youth. Sometimes it will be impossible to locate families; the youth or family or both may refuse counseling; or some other impediment to reunification may arise. Grantees are not expected to achieve the impossible. Taking into consideration the statute and this comment, we have added language that counseling should be provided ‘‘as appropriate.’’ We have also added the phrase ‘‘in consultation with clients’’ to emphasize that these services and advice must reflect the unique situation that faces each particular youth. Furthermore, based on a comment received urging ACF to specifically prohibit conversion therapy in § 1351.19 of the proposed rule we are adding a sentence to the definition of ‘‘counseling services’’ to specifically exclude conversion therapy and referrals to conversion therapy by adding language at the end of the definition that says ‘‘[a]ny treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 identity or gender expression is prohibited.’’ This change is described further in the comments to § 1351.19 of the proposed rule in this preamble. Demonstrably Frequented by or Reachable We proposed to delete the existing regulatory definition of ‘‘Demonstrably frequented by or reachable’’. The definition is unnecessary. No commenters raised any concern over this change and this final rule deletes it. Drop-In Center We received no comments on the proposed definition and have left it unchanged in the regulatory text. Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Services Drug abuse education and prevention services are important, and are defined under that term in the Act (section 387(1)). We proposed to broaden the substance of the statutory definition in regulatory text to read: ‘Drug abuse education and prevention services means services to prevent or reduce drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth, and may include (1) individual, family, group, and peer counseling; (2) drop-in services; (3) assistance to runaway and homeless youth in rural areas (including the development of community support groups); (4) information and training relating to drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth to individuals involved in providing services to such youth; and (5) activities to improve the availability of local drug and/or alcohol abuse prevention services to runaway and homeless youth.’ Our reasons for the broadening of this definition are two-fold. First, we note that the RHY statute explicitly contemplates services to address alcohol abuse in section 387(5). Second, the inclusion of alcohol abuse in addition to drug abuse is standard practice in the substance abuse field as is demonstrated in the definition used by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: ‘substance abuse means the abuse of alcohol or other drugs.’ We received no comments on this definition and it is retained as proposed. Health Care Services In the proposed rule, the definition of health care services read: ‘Health care services means physical, mental, behavioral and dental health services and, in the case of Maternity Group Homes mean those provided to the child of the youth; and where applicable and allowable within a program, family or household members of the youth shall PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93035 receive information on appropriate health related services.’ Comment: We received four unique comments on the proposed definition, some of these representing multiple individuals and organizations. Three comments pointed out that the language as drafted did not clearly cover both youth and any children of these youth. A fourth comment generally praised the proposed definition, but raised two issues, one concerning the need for longer-term treatment, and one concerning the confidentiality of private health information that might be provided to family members. Response: We have revised the definition to state more clearly that health care is not only for the client youth, but also in some cases for the child of the youth. We agree that longerterm treatment and privacy of medical information are important issues. We do not believe, however, that they should be addressed in a definition and respond to this comment in our discussion of requirements concerning referral services and information confidentiality. Additionally, based on a comment received in § 1351.19 of the proposed rule to specifically prohibit conversion therapy, we are adding a sentence to the definition of ‘‘health care services’’ in § 1351.1 to specifically exclude conversion therapy and referrals to conversion therapy by adding language at the end of the definition that says ‘‘[a]ny treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is prohibited.’’ Home-Based Services We proposed to follow the substance of the statutory definition (section 387(2)) of home-based services to read as follows: Home-based services means services provided to youth and their families for the purpose of preventing such youth from running away or otherwise becoming separated from their families and assisting runaway youth to return to their families. It includes services that are provided in the residences of families (to the extent practicable), including intensive individual and family counseling and training related to life skills and parenting. Comment: We received three unique comments on the proposed definition of home-based services, representing in total about 50 individuals and organizations. One commenter suggested that we retitle this definition to refer to ‘‘family support and reunifications services’’ rather than ‘‘home-based’’ services, to reflect the E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93036 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 clear purpose of the services as defined. This commenter also recommended adding a definition for supportive housing to capture the need for in-home services when the youth does not live with his or her family. The other commenters said that the definition should specifically allow for the case where family reunification is not in the best interest of the youth. Response: We have not changed the definition. The term ‘‘home-based’’ is the statutory term used in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and we see no compelling reason to depart from the terminology of the statute. The commenters are correct that the focus is on family reunification, but we think ‘‘home-based’’ is well understood to mean services provided in the home of the youth’s family. Underlying both sets of comments is the point that there will be cases where family reunification is not in the best interest of the youth. We agree with this point. However, nothing in this definition (or elsewhere in the rule) prevents or inhibits either youth or their service providers from considering that question and reaching a decision that home-based services are not possible or appropriate in a particular case, even though they are the preferred outcome in the great majority of cases. We deal further with the issue of ‘‘best interest of the youth’’ in our discussion of additional requirements that apply to all local services grants. Homeless Youth Homeless youth is an essential definition because it identifies individuals eligible to be served under the Act. We proposed to revise the previous definition to read as follows, paraphrasing the Act (section 387(3)): ‘Homeless youth means an individual who cannot live safely with a parent, guardian or relative, and who has no other safe alternative living arrangement. For purposes of Basic Center Program eligibility, a homeless youth must be less than 18 years of age (or higher if allowed by a state or local law or regulation that applies to licensure requirements for child- or youth-serving facilities). For purposes of Transitional Living Program eligibility, a homeless youth cannot be less than 16 years of age and must be less than 22 years of age (unless the individual commenced his or her stay before age 22, and the maximum service period has not ended).’ Comment: We received six unique comments on this definition, one endorsed by many individuals and organizations, focusing on a number of specific issues. One commenter asked if a youth could stay in the Basic Center VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 program if an individual enrolled before age 18 and turned 18 while in the programs, or whether that meant that the newly 18 year old individual would become his or her own legal guardian. Another asked whether the Basic Center age could be raised to 19. Two commenters asked whether the age for Transitional Living could be raised, mentioning 24, 241⁄2, or 25 as options. One commenter recommended that the term ‘‘guardian’’ be replaced by ‘‘legal guardian.’’ One commenter requested clarification that ‘‘safety’’ be interpreted broadly to include not only safety from physical harm, but also from emotional and mental harm. Another comment noted conflicts between state laws and federal policies which include different ages for services. The commenter also noted that the terms ‘‘cannot live safely’’ and ‘‘no other safe alternative’’ are not included in some state definitions but are included in the federal definition of youth homelessness. Response: These age limits and the restrictions related to safe environments are taken from the federal statute’s definition of homeless youth in section 387(3) of the Act. We agree that there are circumstances where these strict limitations may inhibit service provision, but note that nothing prevents a state government, a local government, or a private organization from funding services directly for older youth or those who otherwise do not qualify under federal law. Regarding the Basic Center program age limits, section 387(3)(A)(i) says in the case of a youth seeking shelter in a center under the Basic Center program, a homeless youth is ‘‘less than 18 years of age or is less than a higher maximum age if the State where the center is located has an applicable State or local law (including a regulation) that permits such higher maximum age in compliance with licensure requirements for child- and youth-serving facilities.’’ For the Transitional Living Program, section 387(3)(A)(ii) says youth who can be served in the program must be not less than 16 years of age and either (I) less than 22 years of age; or (II) not less than 22 years of age, as the expiration of the maximum period of stay permitted if such individual commences such stay before reaching 22 years of age. The word ‘‘guardian’’ normally means an officially appointed legal guardian, but for consistency with other text we have added the word ‘‘legal’’ to our definition. We agree with the comment that ‘‘safe’’ and ‘‘safely’’ encompass avoiding mental (including emotional) and physical harm. We further note that Runaway and Homeless Youth projects must also serve youth at risk of running PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 away or becoming homeless, which is particularly important when either physical or mental abuse or family instability is involved. Finally, while there are some instances in which state definitions of ‘‘youth homelessness’’ differ from federal law, the federal statutory language which governs RHY programs is very specific and cannot be amended without action from Congress. This definition aligns with the existing statutory language in the Act. Host Family Home We proposed host family home to read: Host family home means a family or single adult home that provides shelter to a homeless youth. Comment: We received four unique comments on this definition, with over 100 individuals and organizations endorsing one set of comments. Two comments said that our definitions of congregate care and host family home were essentially identical. A third comment said that in at least one state what we called a host family home would be allowed to serve two homeless youth, not merely a single youth. The fourth comment asked why the word family was used rather than host, and whether a home could be a family home if only one adult was present. Response: While we agree that the definitions of ‘congregate care’ and ‘host family home contain similar elements, we do not agree that our definitions are essentially identical. A host family home implies the presence of a person or family who rents or owns the building or apartment and uses it as its own domicile, and takes in or ‘‘hosts’’ one or possibly two homeless youth who will live with the person or family. If no homeless youth are present, it is still that person’s or family’s domicile. For clarity, we have revised the definition to include that a host family home means a home or domicile. A family retains discretion as to whether it hosts a particular youth or any youth. In contrast, a congregate care shelter need not be and ordinarily would not be the domicile of a family, would ordinarily serve a larger number of homeless youth, would have essentially all spaces shared, and would have organized social and recreational activities. Congregate care facilities are also normally licensed as shelters, whereas a family host home may be able to host unrelated individuals without a license. As to calling the home by that term, we were following the statutory terminology. As our definition states, a family may be a single adult. We do agree that there are circumstances where a family might be willing and able to host more than one youth (for example, E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations multiple siblings), and have revised the definition to allow for that option. deleted the words ‘‘institutions, or authorities’’ from the defined term. Intake ‘‘Law Enforcement Structure’’ and ‘‘A Locality’’ Intake services are essential functions under the Act. We proposed to define intake to read: ‘Intake means a process for gathering information to assess eligibility and the services required to meet the immediate needs of the client.’ Comment: We received three comments on the definition of intake, One commenter recommended that the intake definition include a clause stating that ‘‘intake may occur in the context of a community-level coordinated entry or assessment system,’’ with the justification that HUD has Continuum of Care regulations that can serve an important intake role. Another comment made the same point about the HUD process without recommending specific language. One commenter suggested that it would be beneficial for the program if ACF encouraged grantees to participate in broader planning processes within Continuum of Care areas. Response: We agree that all the comments raise valid concerns. We have added to the intake definition: ‘The intake process may be operated independently but grantees should, at minimum, ensure they are working with their local Continuum of Care to ensure that referrals are coordinated and youth have access to all of the community’s resources, given the major role that HUD-funded programs perform in serving homeless individuals of all ages. We have not, however, limited it to any particular system or process, since states or communities need flexibility to experiment or supplement. We did not include a planning and coordination requirement in the definition, as it more appropriately belongs in our requirements. We proposed a requirement for participating in training and technical assistance related to coordinated services in local networks in proposed § 1351.20(a), which applies to all local service grants, and are revising it in this final rule to include participation in coordinated networks (one of which would be Continuum of Care areas). mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Juvenile Justice System Extremely important in this program are interfaces between Runaway and Homeless Youth projects and the juvenile justice system. We received no comments on our proposed language but have recognized that only the term ‘‘juvenile justice system’’ is referenced in the Act and in other places in regulatory text. For this reason, we have VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 In the proposed rule, we stated that ‘‘law enforcement structure’’ and ‘‘a locality’’ are definitions that are unnecessary in these regulations and accordingly we proposed to delete them. We received no comments on these proposals, and the final rule deletes these definitions. Maternity Group Home For runaway and homeless youth who are pregnant or who have children, congregate or scattered-site maternityrelated services are essential. Accordingly, we proposed: ‘Maternity group home means a community-based, adult-supervised transitional living arrangement where client oversight is provided on site or on-call 24 hours a day and that provides pregnant or parenting youth and their children with a supportive environment in which to learn parenting skills, including child development, family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their long-term economic independence and ensure the well-being of their children.’ Comment: We received one comment. The commenter asked what was meant by ‘‘transitional’’ and what justification there would be for placement into other settings such as individual apartments if more time were needed to assess youth functioning. Response: For the purposes of the RHY Maternity Group Home program, ‘‘transitional’’ simply means that these services are temporary and limited either by age and/or by function. For example, maternity group homes may be specifically tailored to serve pregnant or parenting youth who are transitioning to self-sufficiency. The basic purpose of a maternity group home is to prepare youth for a more permanent home, and the duties of a group home include assessing readiness for that change. The final rule leaves this definition unchanged. Outreach We proposed to add a definition for outreach to read as follows: ‘Outreach means finding runaway, homeless, and street youth, or youth at risk of becoming runaway or homeless, who might not use services due to lack of awareness or active avoidance, providing information to them about services and benefits, and encouraging the use of appropriate services.’ Outreach includes low-barrier services PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93037 such as food packs and personal hygiene packs. Comment: We received two comments on this definition. One commenter asked if a drop-in center could perform properly, and be funded, without performing a street outreach function. The other commenter suggested that the definition include, as one outreach service purpose, providing information about housing options and family reunification. Response: We think that both commenters raise good points but the first does not distinguish between the definition of a function and the obligations of grantees. Our definitions are not intended to prescribe the obligations of grantees, but simply to describe the function or service to reduce ambiguity. Regarding the first comment, while many grantees may perform both drop-in center and outreach functions, our rules do not require that all grantees perform both functions. These are distinct services. We do not prohibit outreach providers from giving additional information, beyond that which is part of the core function. Regarding the second comment, our standards for Street Outreach Program grantees require them to provide services that are designed to assist clients in leaving the streets, which may include housing or family reunification (see § 1351.27 of the final rule) as well as to perform outreach services. Accordingly, we have not changed the definition of outreach in the final rule. Risk and Protective Factors We include risk and protective factors under the list of technical assistance or short-term training that may be determined as necessary by HHS as a condition of funding. Therefore, we proposed a definition of risk and protective factors to read: ‘Risk and protective factors mean those factors that are measureable characteristics of a youth that can occur at multiple levels, including biological, psychological, family, community, and cultural levels, that precede and are associated with an outcome. Risk factors are associated with higher likelihood of problematic outcomes, and protective factors are associated with lower likelihood of problematic outcomes. While we received no comments on this change, it was deemed appropriate to frame protective factors as positive impact outcomes and so we have made minor wording changes to reflect that protective factors are associated with a higher likelihood of positive outcomes. We made other minor changes in order to mirror the definition used across the E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93038 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations federal government and on the Youth.gov Web site. Runaway Youth Another core statutory term is runaway youth. We proposed to update the existing definition to reflect the Act (section 387(4)) and to read: Runaway youth means an individual under 18 years of age who absents himself or herself from home or a place of legal residence without the permission of a parent or legal guardian. Comment: We received one comment on the proposed definition. This comment, representing the views of many individuals and organizations, supported our proposed definition but asked whether it limited the ability of grantees to serve youth who leave their place of legal residence at the behest of a parent or legal guardian. Response: We appreciate the importance of this question, since it is vital that the program serve youth who are forced or coerced to leave their homes. The answer, however, is not to change the definition of runaway youth, but to recognize that the program serves both runaway and homeless youth, and that the latter group includes those who have lost their family home, such as through physical or verbal pressure from parents or guardians. Therefore, we have left this definition unchanged in this final rule. Runaway and Homeless Youth Project We received no comments on the proposed definition and it is unchanged in the final rule. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Safe and Appropriate Exits We proposed to add a definition of Safe and Appropriate Settings When Exiting Basic Center Program Services or Transitional Living Program Services. The proposed definition said that Safe and Appropriate Settings When Exiting Basic Center Program Services or Transitional Living Program Services means settings that reflect achievement of the intended purposes of the Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs as outlined in section 382(a) of the Act. Safe and appropriate settings when exiting Basic Center Program Services or Transitional Living Program Services are not exits: • To another shelter; • to the street; • to a private residence, other than a youth who is staying stably with family, if the youth is not paying rent; • to another residential program if the youth is not paying rent or if the youth’s transition to the other residential program was unplanned; VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 • to a correctional institute or detention center if the youth became involved in activities that lead to this exit after entering the program; • to an unspecified other living situation; or • to a living situation that is not known. By defining ‘‘Safe and Appropriate Settings when exiting Basic Center Program services or Transitional Living Program services,’’ our intent was to move the field beyond just finding a place for the youth to stay. However, as discussed in the following responses to the several dozen comments we received, all requesting clarifications or changes to the proposed definition, we have made significant changes to the definition in the final rule. Almost all commenters found the proposed limitations on safe and appropriate settings to be inconsistent with commonly used best practices and some desirable outcomes. Some of these commenters also raised concerns about achieving performance standards with such restrictions in the definition. Comment: We received many unique comments arguing that in some situations a youth may need to go to another shelter, including shelters that provide for special needs. Most of these commenters pointed out that a minor is allowed to stay in a Basic Center for 21 days, and if not unified with this family or placed in Foster Care in that period of time might appropriately go to a Transitional Living Program, which provides services up to 21 months. Also, one commenter pointed out 21 days is often not enough time to resolve issues and transition to a stable family arrangement. Response: We agree. Indeed, one of the appropriate exits from the Basic Shelter Program is to the Transitional Living Program. We have revised the final rule to delete ‘‘another shelter’’ from the list of unsafe exits. Comment: Many unique comments addressed the clause concerning exit to a private residence. Most of these pointed out that the private residence of a friend might not involve rent payment and might be an appropriate exit, that in most cases minors will not be able to sign a lease and pay rent, and that some programs such as Job Corps, Foster Care, and Transitional Living do not charge rent. Several commenters pointed out subsidized housing sometimes involves rent-free accommodation until the renter has income. These commenters recommended that we delete this prohibition on the use of free rental housing. Some commenters also recommended that we redefine family to PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 include unrelated individuals thought of as family by the youth. Response: We agree that payment of rent is not a useful demarcation and have modified the definition accordingly, both as it applies to private residences and other residential programs. We also agree that there are cases where stays with an adult relative who is not a member of the immediate family (e.g., grandparent, aunt, or uncle), with an adult family friend, or with an adult friend, would be appropriate exits. Accordingly, we have modified the clause on private residences to allow for such situations, where they involve a stable arrangement. To address the recommendations about unrelated individuals, we revised the rule to allow for placement with unrelated individuals in some cases. Comment: Several commenters addressed other possible safe exits that were not clearly addressed under the clauses on either private housing or other residential programs. The commenters who raised the issue about supportive housing (rent free or not rent-free) also implicitly made the point that some older homeless youth will be placed into their own housing units, without any other resident. One commenter asserted that the proposed clause concerning other residential programs did not clearly include Child Welfare Services. Response: We agree that the pertinent clauses under the definition as proposed were ambiguous as to supportive housing as well as Foster Care or other Child Welfare Services. We have revised the clause on other residential programs to more clearly include such programs. In particular, our recognition of planned exits to other residential programs as being safe is intended to cover exits to permanent housing and to permanent supportive housing, as well as to foster home placement. Comment: Several commenters recommended that we drop from the list of unsafe exits the case where a youth’s activities after entering the program lead to placement in a correctional institute or detention center. The commenters argued that clearing up prior warrants might lead to jail time, or that this could create barriers to serving youth with many prior law enforcement encounters, such as human trafficked youth. One commenter was concerned that it could count against discharge rates for shelter providers. Response: We do not agree that clearing up warrants that apply to actions before the youth entered the program come within this definition. The proposed definition was worded to E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations exclude such actions. We do not believe distinguishing prior and new law enforcement encounters and issues will be difficult for grantees or will create barriers. Within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, we are committed to building capacity amongst RHY providers to identify and assist trafficking victims through training and funding opportunity announcements. We are also running a demonstration program initiative with our RHY and family violence program to expand outreach to service providers that may have contact with domestic victims of human trafficking. Since many programs for human trafficking victims are run by law enforcement, we have slightly refined our definition of exits that are not safe and appropriate. Comment: One commenter asked that we exempt an exit to a living situation that is not known by short stay residents who leave the program after fewer than seven days of residence. Response: We agree that transitory stays are a problem. Nonetheless, those that result in exits to unknown destinations must be characterized as unsuccessful. We have not accepted the proposed change. Comment: One commenter asked that we delete ‘‘unplanned’’ exits to another residential program from the list of unsafe exits. Response: We agree that there are cases in which the needs assessment, counseling, and guidance provided by the program will not have identified some particular option that would be beneficial. Indeed, the client himself may find that option, or learn of it from other sources to which he had been referred. We have changed the language to refer to ‘‘inconsistent with the youth’s needs.’’ Comment: We received several comments arguing that it would be better to define safe and appropriate exits in terms of those that are safe rather than those that are not, or alternatively as those that are both. One listing of safe exits included independent living, residential apprenticeships, higher education, family, mental health or substance abuse program, military service, or any other planned residential program. Response: We agree that defining safe and appropriate exits in terms of those that are safe and are not safe is a good approach and have changed this in the final regulatory text. We have crafted language in an effort to demonstrate what safe and appropriate exits generally look like and have incorporated some of the concepts suggested so that a safe and appropriate exit will include: (1) To the private VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 residence of a parent, guardian, another adult relative, or adult family friend that has the youth’s best interest in mind and can provide a stable arrangement; (2) to another residential program if the youth’s transition to the other residential program is consistent with the youth’s needs; or (3) to independent living if that is consistent with the youth’s needs and abilities. In addition, we note that in comments received, commenters referred to ‘‘safe and appropriate exits’’ instead of the longer title proposed that read ‘‘safe and appropriate settings when exiting Basic Center Program services or Transitional Living Program services.’’ For this reason, we have shortened the definition to only refer to ‘‘safe and appropriate exits’’ in this final rule. Service Plan or Treatment Plan We also proposed to define a service plan, sometimes called a treatment plan, to read: Service plan or treatment plan means a written plan of action based on the assessment of client needs and strengths and engagement in joint problem solving with the client that identifies problems, sets goals, and describes a strategy for achieving those goals. To the extent possible, the plan should incorporate the use of evidencebased or evidence-informed interventions. Comment: We received two unique comments on this proposed definition. One commenter asked whether training and technical assistance will include information on evidence-based practices. The other comment (joined by many individuals and organizations) pointed out that the preamble text, but not the regulatory text, included the concept of safety planning. That comment also asked that safety planning include suicide prevention and other mental health crises. Response: FYSB will provide training and technical assistance to grantees by sharing evidence-based service planning practices. As to safety planning, we acknowledge the oversight and have added safety planning to the regulatory definition in the final rule. We have revised the proposed definition to include, in the final rule, ‘‘As appropriate, the service and treatment plans should address both physical and mental safety issues.’’ This covers all such issues, but does not require that plans explicitly address every unforeseen circumstance. Short-Term Training We received no comments and the final rule contains the proposed definition unchanged. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93039 State We did not receive any comments and have left this definition unchanged in the final rule. Street Youth We proposed to define street youth to read: ‘Street youth means an individual who is a runaway youth or an indefinitely or intermittently homeless youth who spends a significant amount of time on the street or in other areas that increase the risk to such youth for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, prostitution, or drug and/or alcohol abuse. For purposes of this definition, youth means an individual who is age 21 or less.’ This definition reflects the statutory language from the Act (section 387(6)). Comment: We received one comment, which asked why we used age 21 or less in the definition. Response: The statute defines street youth to include a runaway youth or indefinitely or intermittently homeless youth. The statutory definition of homeless youth as defined in section 387(3) states that youth must be less than 22 years old. Accordingly, we have made no change in the final rule. Supervised Apartments We received no comments on the definition of ‘supervised apartments’ and have left the regulatory text unchanged in this final rule. Technical Assistance We received no comments on this definition and have left it unchanged in the final rule. Temporary Shelter Finally, we proposed to update the definition of temporary shelter to read: ‘Temporary shelter means all shelter settings in which runaway and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis intervention, and other services on a 24-hour basis for up to 21 days.’ Comment: We received three unique comments on the proposed definition. One commenter said that 21 days was too short and should be extended to 30 days. One said that the definition should say explicitly up to 21 days ‘‘or until such time as the statute allows.’’ One said that the federal rule should allow longer periods of stay ‘‘where permitted by state law.’’ Response: We appreciate these suggestions. Regarding the 21 day time limit, the Act is explicit at § 311(a)(2)(B) that services provided through the Basic Center Program shall include ‘‘safe and appropriate shelter provided for not to exceed 21 days.’’ As to state law, E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93040 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations nothing precludes a state or private organization from subsidizing longer stays with state or private funding. We have modified the definition to make clear that 21 days is a restriction on the use of RHY funds through the Basic Center Program, not a restriction on the length of stay permitted by the facility. Temporary shelter is now defined as all Basic Center Program shelter settings in which runaway and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis intervention, and other services on a 24hour basis for up to 21 days. The 21 day restriction is on the use of RHY funds through the Basic Center Program, not a restriction on the length of stay permitted by the facility. We also received a number of comments suggesting that we add definitions to the final rule. We address these suggestions below. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Comment: One comment endorsed by about 50 individuals and organizations recommended that we add a definition for ‘‘culturally and linguistically appropriate services.’’ This comment acknowledged that throughout the proposed rule ACYF had demonstrated a clear intent that grantees provide services that are culturally sensitive and that meet the needs of diverse youth. The commenters suggested that this obligation be defined and that the definition include as its only substantive content reference to a set of service and governance standards that are promoted by the U.S. Public Health Service for use in health care settings (these standards are titled ‘‘Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards in Health and Health Care,’’ and abbreviated CLAS). In effect, the commenters proposed that we make CLAS a binding standard for our grantees. Response: Though this final rule does not adopt the CLAS standards, it maintains the proposed rule’s intent that grantees provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services and we include training on this for grantees in § 1351.23(a) of this final regulation. Family Comment: One commenter asked that we add a definition for ‘‘family,’’ pointing out that many LGBTQ youth have adopted ‘‘families of choice’’ with adults or caregivers other than their parents or legal guardians. Other commenters made similar points in comments on specific definitions or requirements that referred to families. Response: We appreciate and agree with the underlying concern. In key VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 remain away from home without parental permission are disproportionately subject to serious health, behavioral, and emotional problems.1 2 They lack sufficient resources to obtain care and may live on the street for extended periods, unable to achieve stable, safe living arrangements, during which they may be in danger.3 4 Many are urgently in need of temporary shelter and services,5 including services that are linguistically appropriate, responsive to their complex Supportive Housing social identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, Comment: We received one comment nationality, age, religion/spirituality, requesting that we add a definition for gender identity/expression, sexual supportive housing. orientation, socioeconomic status, Response: In as much as supportive physical ability, language, beliefs, housing is not a service provided values, behavior patterns, or customs), through these grants, we see no need to and acknowledge the environment they define it or any other type of non-timecome from. We proposed that services limited housing. Aftercare plans can, as should have a positive youth appropriate, address this or any other development approach that ensures a service. young person has a sense of safety and structure; belonging and membership; Subpart B. Runaway and Homeless self-worth and social contribution; Youth Program Grants independence and control over one’s The previous rule contained a number life; skills to develop plans for the of sections dealing with the purposes of future and set goals; and, closeness in the program, eligibility for grants, interpersonal relationships.6 To make a priority for grants, matching successful transition to adulthood, requirements, the period of grant runaway youth, homeless youth, and awards, allowable costs, application other street youth also need procedures, criteria for grant funding opportunities to complete high school decisions, and additional information or earn a general equivalency degree, for grantees. We proposed revisions to learn job skills, and obtain employment. all of these sections as well as to the title HHS operates three programs to carry of the subpart to be Runaway and out these purposes through direct local Homeless Youth Program Grants. These services: The Basic Center Program, the sections apply to all grants under the Transitional Living Program (including program. Maternity Group Homes), and the Street Outreach Program. HHS conducts three Purpose additional activities to support Currently § 1351.10 asks, ‘‘What is the achievement of these purposes: purpose of the Runaway and Homeless Research, evaluation, and service Youth Program grant?’’ We proposed to projects; a national communications re-title this section ‘‘What is the purpose system to assist runaway and homeless of Runaway and Homeless Youth youth in communicating with service Program grants?’’ This change in title providers; and technical assistance and reflects the growth of the program over time from the core Basic Center Program 1 Whitbeck, LB; Johnson, KD; Hoyt, DR & Cauce, to a broader range of grant types and AM. (2004). Mental disorder and comorbidity among runaway and homeless adolescents. Journal purposes. Relatedly, we proposed to of Adolescent Health. 35(2): 132. amend the statement of purpose to 2 Cauce, AM, et al. (2000). The characteristics and emphasize not only transitional living mental health of homeless adolescents. Journal of services and other services added in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. 8(4):230. 3 Whitbeck, LB; Chen, X; Hoyt, DR; Tyler, KA & recent years, but also the increasing emphasis on prevention and identifying Johnson, KD. (2004). Mental disorder, subsistence strategies, and victimization among gay, lesbian, the vulnerability of these youth. Under and bisexual homeless and runaway adolescents. the proposal, the purpose of Runaway The Journal of Sex Research. 41(4):329. 4 Greene, JM; Ennet, ST & Ringwalk, CL. (1999). and Homeless Youth Program grants Prevalence and correlates of survival sex among would be to establish or strengthen runaway and homeless youth. American Journal of community-based projects to provide Public Health. 89(9):1406. 5 Clark, R. & Robertson, M.J. (1996). Surviving for runaway prevention, outreach, shelter, the Moment: A Report on Homeless Youth in San and transition services to runaway, Francisco. Berkeley: Alcohol Research Group. homeless, or street youth or youth at 6 Taylor-Seehafer, MA. (2004). Positive youth risk of running away or becoming development: Reducing the health risks of homeless homeless. We stated that youth who youth. MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child have become homeless or who leave and Nursing. 29(1):36. places in the proposed and final rule, we make clear that while family reunification with the legal parents or guardian is the preferred option and in most cases in the best interest of youth, we allow for exceptions. While we are not defining the term ‘‘family’’, we have revised language throughout this final rule to allow for flexibility in instances where it may not be safe or appropriate for the grantee to contact a client’s parents or legal guardians. PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 training. The proposed rule covers all of these activities. Comment: We received several comments on the purpose of the program. Two commenters praised the proposed text for its inclusion of LGBTQ in its statement of the need to serve all runaway and homeless youth. One commenter praised the statement of purpose and proposed that we adopt the U.S. Public Health Service’s guidelines of Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (CLAS) as standards. A third commenter stated that we should add ‘‘traumainformed care’’ as one of two practice frameworks for youth intervention to this section. Response: As previously explained, though this final rule does not adopt the CLAS standards, it maintains the proposed rule’s intent that grantees provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services and we include training on this for grantees in § 1351.23(a) of this final regulation. As to ‘‘trauma-informed care,’’ we believe that the statement of purpose already encompasses this and other practices on dealing with the traumatic circumstances that affect runaway and homeless youth. The proposed text is adopted virtually without change (or with only stylistic changes) to the final rule. Eligibility for Grants The existing rule asks in § 1351.11 ‘‘Who is eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant?’’ The eligibility requirements of the program have not changed significantly over the years but we proposed changes to this section to conform the regulatory language to the current statute. We proposed to state that all ‘public (state and local) and private non-profit entities, and coordinated networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the law enforcement structure or the juvenile justice system.’ While specific regulatory language is not needed, we pointed out that most faith-based organizations meet the regulatory definition of non-profit. We received no comments on this section. However, because we are removing the definition of ‘‘law enforcement structure’’ in this final rule, we have deleted the reference to ‘‘law enforcement structure’’ in this section. Priority for Awards The existing regulation addresses priority for awards. In consideration of the numerous comments and varying points of view on these issues, we VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 proposed significant and streamlined changes to the language regarding grant award priorities in § 1351.12. We received more than a half dozen unique comments on the proposed priorities and on ways to improve or refine them. Comment: Several commenters stated that our proposed language did not clearly show consistency with the statutory preference for awarding grants to applicants with past experience in serving runaway or otherwise homeless youth and recommended regulatory language to say this. One commenter suggested preference for grantees seeking continuation funding. One commenter gave specific recommendations for the amount of preference, e.g., 1 to 2 points for 10 years of successful experience. Another commenter recognized that the language did allow credit for experience but asked what objective measures or weights could be used. Several commenters recommended that points be given for successful monitoring visits. One of these stated that his project had been funded annually since 1986 but was dropped from funding despite successful performance and excellent monitoring scores. This commenter argued there should be an appeal process in case of mistakes in the award process. Response: With respect to the comments raising the issue of the statutory preference for prior experience, it is important to note that the proposed regulatory text mirrors the statutory language exactly. We note that the statute itself does not require us to give preference to an applicant with prior experience who has not performed as well as other applicants are likely to perform. The RHY statute requires that performance standards are incorporated into grantmaking, monitoring, and evaluation. For clarity and consistency, this requirement was added to the regulatory text. As to those comments proposing specific weights for our priorities or asking that those weights be included in the final rule, or suggesting other priorities for existing grantees, we are also not making those suggested changes. Annual funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) provide far more flexibility than codified regulations to enable HHS to tailor detailed rating factors or their weights to best accommodate the needs of the particular activities. We will, however, consider the specific proposals we received in modifying our priorities and rating methods in the next round of FOAs. Comment: A number of commenters addressed our proposed preference for applications costing $200,000 or less. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93041 Most of these commenters noted that the statute imposes this dollar limit only on the Basic Center Program. Some commenters also criticized what one called a ‘‘flat cap’’ on a funding preference for Street Outreach and Transitional Living projects with budgets of $200,000 or less, and expressed concern that this is an absolute priority. One commenter pointed out that the proposed preference would reduce incentives to obtain other public or private resources, and recommended that at the very least the preference not include in-kind resources. This same commenter also argued that larger organizations with multiple grants could use creative accounting techniques to allocate overhead costs. Several of the commenters on this issue also pointed out that this priority would penalize more effective programs with higher budgets. Some of these commenters also suggested that the dollar limit created adverse incentives with respect to hard to serve youth or the most disadvantaged youth, such as many LGBTQ youth. Response: We agree with comments that pointed out that the statutory limit relates only to the Basic Center Program and have revised the regulatory text in paragraph (a) to follow section 313(b)(2) of the Act which only applies a preference for applications less than $200,000 to Basic Center grants. We have added a clause to this provision to say that the preference will be for applications less than $200,000 ‘‘or such figure as Congress may specify’’ to account for future statutory changes. In addition, we have added in statutory language for prioritizing other types of RHY grants. In paragraph (b), for the Transitional Living Program, we added language from section 322(b) of the Act for prioritizing grants which says ‘‘[i]n selecting eligible applicants to receive grants under this part, the Secretary shall give priority to entities that have experience in providing to homeless youth shelter and services of the types described in subsection (a)(1)’’, which references Transitional Living Programs. In paragraph (c), we have added language from section 351(b) of the Act which says that in selecting applicants to receive grants under the Street Outreach Program, the Secretary shall give priority to public and nonprofit private agencies that have experience in providing services to runaway and homeless and street youth. In paragraph (d), for the national communications system, we have added language that follows section 331 of the Act with a slight modification. The E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93042 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations current statutory requirement is that the ‘‘Secretary shall give priority to grant applicants that have experience in providing telephone services to runaway and homeless youth.’’ To account for changes in technology, in this final rule we will prioritize grantees who have experience providing ‘‘electronic communications services’’ to runaway and homeless youth, including telephone, Internet, mobile applications, and other technologydriven services. This change is in keeping with the purposes of the provision and advances those purposes. We note that section 303 of the Act authorizes the Secretary to issue rules she considers necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of the Act. In paragraph (e), to prioritize grants for research, evaluation, demonstration and service projects, we added language to this section in accordance with section 343(b) and (c) of the Act. In paragraph (f), we added language to specify that the performance standards will be integrated into the grantmaking, monitoring, and evaluation processes for the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and the Street Outreach Program. We also indicated that specific details about how performance standards will be considered, along with examples of performance documentation, will be provided in the annual funding opportunity announcements. To be clear, a grant application in an amount larger than $200,000 from a project with demonstrated or likely superior performance can indeed receive an award. We also understand that serving disadvantaged youth can require additional financial investment. We want to emphasize our dedication to ensuring that all youth are served, including LGBTQ youth (as noted by the commenter) and youth who have experienced adverse circumstances, including physical and mental abuse, drug use, human trafficking, and other circumstances. We will address additional criteria for prioritizing grants to serve these vulnerable young people within our annual FOAs. Comment: One commenter recommended that funding priority under § 1351.12 be given to applicants currently accredited by a national accrediting body. Response: Accreditation is another example of a possible future criterion for use in setting priorities or rating factors in annual FOAs. From currently available evidence, we do not have a sufficient basis to justify including such preference in a codified rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 Comment: A commenter endorsed by many individuals and organizations argued a priority be added to § 1351.12 for applicants providing services without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and that can best provide services meeting the needs of LBGT youth. This commenter also suggested adoption of ‘‘culturally and linguistically appropriate’’ (CLAS) services as a priority, and for adoption of nondiscrimination requirements at 42 U.S.C. 18116 (section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act). Response: These civil rights issues are dealt with elsewhere in this final rule preamble and in sections of the final rule text. For example, see §§ 1351.20 through 1351.22 which discuss additional requirements for RHY grantees. Based on comments received and for clarity, we have revised the final rule language in this section to mirror the language in the Act. Matching Requirements We proposed a change to § 1351.13 regarding matching share. The previous regulatory language conflicted with the updated statute on the amount of funding required by grantees to satisfy the match requirement. The previous language required a non-federal match amount which was at least equal to 10 percent of the federal funds received. To align the statute and the regulations, we proposed that the federal share of the project represents 90 percent of the total project cost supported by the federal government, thus the remaining 10 percent represents the required project match cost by the grantee. This may be a cash or in-kind contribution. We note that the language of the statute is phrased in terms implying an exact 10 percent matching share, but HHS has always taken the position that the language should not be interpreted to prevent grantees from spending additional funds from their own resources. We received no comments on these proposed changes and have left them unchanged in the final rule. Project Period We did not propose changes to § 1351.14, providing that the period for which a grant will be awarded is generally one year, renewable annually. We received no comments on this section and have left it unchanged. Supportable Costs We proposed minor changes to update the language under § 1315.15 to more fully describe costs allowed under Runaway and Homeless Youth Program PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 grants. Costs that can be supported include, but are not limited to, staff training and core services such as outreach, intake, case management, data collection, temporary shelter, transitional living arrangements, referral services, counseling services, and aftercare services. We proposed to retain the existing prohibition against acquisition or renovation costs that exceed 15 percent of the grant award, subject to potential waiver. We also proposed adding language that clarifies that research and evaluation, communications, and technical assistance grants are allowable costs that pertain to their unique purposes. Comment: We received one comment on these provisions. That commenter recommended that the list of supportable costs be amended to include transition to permanent housing. Examples were suggested, including first month of rent, move in costs, or utility fees. Response: The proposed definition excluded no reasonable costs related to achieving the goals of the program, other than a few specific limitations and those listed in costs not allowable. It used the phrase ‘‘include, but are not limited to.’’ Hence, in some circumstances we may pay for costs related to transition to permanent housing. It would be inappropriate, however, to pay for costs that are the legal obligation of another program. We have not changed the language in the final rule. Costs Not Allowable We proposed a change to the language under § 1351.16, now § 1351.16(a) of the final rule, that currently states only that capital costs for new facilities are not allowed under Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants. We proposed retaining this prohibition and also explicitly prohibiting payment for the operating costs of existing community centers or other facilities that are used partially or incidentally for services to runaway or homeless youth clients. This does not mean that a reasonable fraction of utility or other overhead costs could not be charged to our grant when a facility provides multiple services, but it does mean that such fraction would have to be based on a reasonable cost allocation method approved by HHS, such as proportion of square footage devoted exclusively to each service in the facility. Separable costs of the Runaway and Homeless Youth project are, of course, fully reimbursable. The reason for this clarification is that we have seen proposed project budgets that include disproportionate allocations of facility-wide or overhead costs to E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Runaway and Homeless Youth projects that use only a small portion of the facility. We received no comments on this section and have left it unchanged in the final rule. However, we have revised the final rule by adding a new § 1351.16(b) that states, ‘‘A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.’’ This is further discussed later in the preamble. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Application Procedures The current rule under § 1351.17 provides that HHS will publish program announcements of availability of grant funds annually in the Federal Register, and includes specific but outdated procedures for obtaining announcements and submitting applications. We proposed to change § 1351.17 to address three changes since the rule was last revised. First, proposed paragraph (a) recognized that we now rely primarily on the Internet (rather than the Federal Register) for publication of our funding opportunity announcements. Second, under proposed paragraph (b) we allowed for electronic submission of completed grant applications through the federal government’s http://www.grants.gov Web site. We would continue to allow for paper applications for grants. Third, our proposed language said that we will publish such announcements periodically rather than annually. The timing and frequency varies by type of grant and has changed over time. We received no comments on these proposed changes but are seeking to maximize flexibility as technology and procedures change in the future. Therefore, we have changed the language to say that an applicant should follow instructions included in funding opportunity announcements, which describe procedures for receipt and review of applications. Funding Criteria Under existing § 1351.18 we listed a number of criteria that we use for deciding which grant applications to fund. We proposed small technical changes to these criteria. Under paragraph (a) we proposed to retain the criteria that proposed projects meet funding priorities. We also added a clause making specific reference to our use of FOAs to establish specific details of the broad requirements, standards, and evaluation criteria contained in the proposed rule. Under the proposal, in reviewing applications, HHS would take into consideration whether the grant VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 application meets the particular priorities, requirements, standards, or evaluation criteria established in funding opportunity announcements. We renumbered these criteria accordingly. In paragraph (b), we proposed to modify and combine the current requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) for demonstrating ‘‘need’’ to require that the likely estimated number of unserved runaway and homeless youth in the area exceed the capacity of existing services. That is, we would not require a censuslike count of such youth, but merely a reasonable estimate that the number of such youth exceeds the capacity of existing services. We received no comments on subsections (a) or (b) and the proposed text in these subsections are unchanged in the final rule. Under proposed paragraph (c), we proposed to retain the existing requirement that runaway and homeless youth centers maintain a minimum residential capacity of four and a maximum of 20 youth in a single structure (except where the applicant assures that the state where the center or locally controlled facility is located has a state or local law or regulation that requires a higher maximum to comply with licensure requirements for child and youth serving facilities as authorized in § 312(b)(2) of the Act) for all youth residing at the shelter on any given night. We proposed to clarify that the capacity standards apply only to grants that include such centers. We also proposed to revise the regulation to require centers to have the number of staff sufficient to assure adequate supervision of and treatment for the number of clients served rather than a mandatory ratio of staff to clients. This change is for consistency with the statute at section 312(b)(2)(B) of the Act. While we are not aware of any uniform best practice for establishing such a ratio, an agency would refer to state laws and licensing regulations as they pertain to runaway and homeless youth shelters for guidelines. If no runaway and homeless youth shelter laws and licensing regulations have been established in a state, the agency would refer to state child welfare laws and regulations for youth. Agencies would be required to cite the guidelines they are following for the staff ratios they deem to be appropriate. To clarify this, we have added language to paragraph (c) to say that criteria used when determining which grant applications to fund must consider the guidelines followed for determining the appropriate staff ratio. PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93043 Comment: We received one comment on proposed § 1351.18(c) on residential capacity, asking whether there should be a minimum number of youth to be served by host family homes (such as 4) and when federal requirements take precedence over state or local licensing requirements. Response: We do not believe there should be any minimum number of youth served in host family homes. Some of the best domiciles may involve room for, or willingness to supervise and host, just one youth. Our residential capacity requirements are not intended to preempt state or local rules in any way, and we specifically allow state or local licensure requirements to impose higher maximum standards. Under paragraph (d), we proposed to slightly modify the criteria under current paragraph (e) removing the language concerning the 72-hour timeframe from admission for the program to make contact with family. The requirement is contained in Subpart C, at new § 1351.24(e). We received six unique comments on this section, and address the concerns of these commenters separately below. Comment: Section 1351.18(d) of our funding criteria contains our proposed provision on making ‘‘best interest of the child’’ an important requirement. Several comments on other sections had mentioned a concern over making that criterion clear. One commenter recommended that this term also be incorporated into the definitions of counseling services, health care services, and home-based services; addressed or added in three paragraphs of this section, and added to sections on requirements for Basic Center projects and performance standards for these grantees. Two other commenters on best interest of the child also suggested amending the proposed language dealing with alternative living arrangements. Response: We placed this important requirement in our section on overall criteria for funding priorities, a core section of the rule. We agree that the best interest of the child will in some cases prevent either counseling with or reunification with the family. In some cases (e.g., involving sexual orientation or gender identity) the family will have forced the youth to leave and be unwilling to discuss the matter, and in some cases physical abuse or other criminal behaviors will prevent family involvement. We appreciate that there are many other specific provisions where we could add requirements or references to best interest of the child and we do reference the best interest of the child consistently throughout this E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93044 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations rule. It is in this section that we explicitly make best interest of the child one of the major priorities to be addressed in all funding awards and all runaway and homeless youth services. Our proposed language explicitly conditioned joint involvement of youth and family to cases ‘‘when possible.’’ We did not intend ‘‘possible’’ to mean only literal impossibility (though this will sometimes be the case), but ‘‘reasonably possible,’’ and taking into account the circumstances of each case and the best interest of the client youth. We have revised the rule to reflect this. Consistent with section 312 of the statute, our proposed language also required that grantees develop adequate ‘‘plans,’’ which includes in this context carefully considered methods and procedures for handling the most difficult circumstances and situations where family involvement may not be reasonably possible. We think that the proposed rule language provides a clear ‘‘best interest’’ policy applicable to all services for the client youth, and have not revised either this section or other sections in response to these comments. As for the comments suggesting that we revise the text concerning best interest of the child to more clearly indicate that alternative living arrangements (not just to return home or to law enforcement) are an option that will sometimes be in the best interest of the child, we agree that alternative living arrangements should be considered when developing plans for Basic Center grantees. We have modified the language to cite the statute more closely, which says in section 312(b)(3) that such grantees ‘‘shall develop adequate plans for contacting the parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the safe return of the youth according to the best interests of the youth, for contacting local government officials pursuant to informal arrangements established with such officials by the runaway and homeless youth center, and for providing for other appropriate alternative living arrangements.’’ We proposed to retain the language in paragraphs (f) through (h) of the previous version of this regulation and renumber them (e) through (g). This language ensures that HHS criteria for deciding which RHY grant applications to fund include: (e) Plans for the delivery of aftercare or counseling services to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families; (f) Whether the estimated cost to HHS for the Runaway and Homeless Youth project is reasonable considering the anticipated results; and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 (g) Whether the proposed personnel are well qualified and the applicant agency has adequate facilities and resources. We added a new paragraph (h) to ensure that HHS criteria for deciding which RHY grant applications to fund includes past performance on a RHY grant, including but not limited to program performance standards. In fact, paragraph (h) clearly states our intent to consider a grantee’s past performance, including measures associated with the performance standards outlined in §§ 1351.30, 1351.31, and 1351.32, when deciding which RHY grantee applications to fund. Paragraphs (i) and (j) outline funding criteria for whether the proposed project design, if well executed, is capable of attaining program objectives. The paragraphs also outline funding criteria for whether the grant application is consistent with the provisions of the Act and these regulations. These paragraphs were unchanged. A new paragraph (k) was proposed to include other factors as outlined in the funding opportunity announcements. Comment: One commenter discussing § 1351.18 argued for adding a reference to a new civil rights law, and for requiring ‘‘culturally and linguistically appropriate services’’ in five separate paragraphs within this section. This same commenter argued for adding such a reference or requirement in many other sections of the rule. Response: The final rule maintains the proposed rule’s intent that grantees provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services. See § 1351.23(a) of this final regulation. Comment: One commenter asked that we include appeals procedures to deal with mistakes in the review process and involve regional staff in the grant review process to § 1351.18. Response: This rule governs primarily the operation of the Runaway and Homeless Program by grantees, and does not address or govern the internal administrative processes of the federal government. Hence, while we appreciate the suggestions as to the grant review process, we do not address them in the final rule. We will take them into account in our internal decision making. We note that we already involve regional staff in the grant review process, since they bring unique expertise and knowledge of local conditions and grantees to that process. In addition, in accordance with the HHS Grants Policy Statement, ‘‘The decision not to award a grant, or to award a grant at a particular funding level, is discretionary and is not subject to PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 appeal to any OPDIV or HHS official or board.’’ Comment: Two commenters asked that we add as a criterion to § 1351.18 ‘‘demonstrated engagement in efforts with the local Continuum of Care’’ activity and one of these suggested adding partnerships with adult homeless agencies as a requirement. One of these commenters also recommended that grant applicants should show that they are integrating Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) reporting with the HUD Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) reporting. Response: Coordination with other agencies and programs is very important to the program, both to improve outcomes and to reduce wasted or duplicative effort. Continuum of Care is one of the most important of these in many areas served by our grantees. We have chosen not to make such coordination a criterion for funding decisions on individual grant awards, but have instead included it in our additional requirements, discussed in our response to comments on the next section of the rule. As for program reporting, the integration of these two systems is proceeding and once completed will be enforced under § 1351.23(c) of the final rule. See our subsequent discussion of that subsection. Other Federal Requirements and Program Policies After reviewing comments, the final rule has expanded upon § 1351.19 of the proposed rule to provide clarity by separating the section into §§ 1351.20 through 1351.22 in subpart A of the final rule. This is discussed in detail below. Under the previous rule, § 1351.19 contains a list of other rules and regulations that apply to applicants for, or recipients, of program funds. These include, for example, regulations concerning civil rights obligations of recipients and regulations concerning fraud, waste, and abuse. We proposed amending that rule to include additional rules that also are specifically intended to apply to all HHS grantees or, in some cases, to all federal grantees. The expanded list under proposed paragraph (a) included rules related to civil rights requirements, to other client protections, to administrative requirements in HHS grant programs, and to preventing fraud or abuse. This expanded list does not attempt to list all of the federal laws and regulations (e.g., provisions of the Internal Revenue Code regarding non-profit status, minimum wage requirements, and numerous E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations others) that pertain to organizations that may be grant applicants or awardees. The provisions we listed here are not for the most part administered through either the Administration for Children and Families or its Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (though the agency may in some instances assist in their enforcement), but by other HHS components or by other federal agencies that set the conditions and enforcement mechanisms that apply to those provisions, and that determine whether and in what circumstances grant-related penalties may apply. For example, the HHS Office for Civil Rights enforces civil rights protections. This section already contains in paragraph (b) several additional provisions, mainly client confidentiality protections, that we did not propose to change, as well as new and expanded protections concerning protection of youth and providing nondiscriminatory services that comprehensively address individual needs. In paragraph (c), we proposed to update our reference to the Act as defined in the proposed rule. We also proposed to amend the title of the section to include ‘‘other Federal Requirements’’ in the title. We received no comments on many of these subsections and have left the language of those subsections unchanged in the final rule. Comment: We received several comments on § 1351.19 suggesting that we add a civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. 18116, enacted as section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to the list of applicable rules in subsection (a). This statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities, including those funded by federal grants or established under Title I of ACA. Existing laws and regulations already prohibit most of these types of discrimination, at least for federal grantees and in some cases for all or most service providers, whether or not involving health. The most notable addition in the recently enacted statute is the prohibition against sex discrimination in the provision of health care services. Current sex discrimination regulations applicable directly to grantees cover only those grantees providing education services (of course, there also exist employmentrelated prohibitions on sex discrimination by private or public employers that are enforced by yet other agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, regardless of grantee status). Some persons, including these commenters, hope or expect that this new and far broader prohibition on VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 sex discrimination will extend to sexual orientation and gender identity. Response: Section 1351.22 has been added to address discrimination in RHY grantee programs and facilities. The new language added in § 1351.22(a) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. This section clarifies the intent of the section as initially written in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). To be clear, the rule does not bar grantees from considering the needs of each applicant and the health and safety of other beneficiaries when determining eligibility for programs, activities, or services. Language has been added in § 1351.22 making this part of coordinated entry explicitly permissible. A preceding clause at § 1351.20 includes references to 45 CFR part 86 and 92, both which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes gender identity. The former rule, at 45 CFR 86.31, applies to education programs or activities that are carried out under various HHS-funded grant programs including RHY grants. The latter rule, at 45 CFR part 92, applies to the provision of mental health counseling and other health activities carried out by the RHY programs. Section 1351.20 of the final rule lists fourteen codified regulations that apply or potentially apply to all federal grantees (as applicable). Title 42 U.S.C. 18116 was enacted in 2010 and conforming regulations were issued on May 18, 2016 at 45 CFR part 92, entitled ‘‘Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities,’’ which implements the prohibition of discrimination under section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. These regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity in HHSfunded health programs or activities. To the extent that an RHY grantee operates health programs or activities, any part of which receives federal financial assistance, section 1557 and the corresponding regulations under 45 CFR part 92 will apply to that health program or activity. For these reasons we revised our list of regulations that apply or potentially apply to Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees to include 45 CFR part 92. Comment: Another commenter asked that we apply the language of a New York State nondiscrimination statute to Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees, on behalf of LGBTQ youth. The commenter stated that the New York law explicitly prohibits programs, program staff, and program volunteers PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93045 from engaging in or condoning discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, creed, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, religion, or disability. Other commenters asked that we not merely require that our grantees be responsive to the needs of LGBTQ youth, but also prohibit discrimination against such youth. Response: We have included language in § 1351.22 of the final rule that requires service delivery and staff training to comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth as well as be language appropriate, gender appropriate (interventions that are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and transgender youth), and culturally sensitive and respectful of the complex social identities of youth (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/ expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs). No runaway youth or homeless youth shall, on any of the foregoing bases, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in whole or in part under the Act. Additionally, after publication of this rule, we will produce a best-practices guide focused on sheltering and serving LGBTQ youth. This document will serve as a tool for grantees and will include information about how to create safe and affirming spaces for transgender youth. Comment: One commenter asked that we specifically prohibit for LGBTQ youth so-called ‘‘conversion therapy,’’ meaning ‘‘[a]ny treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.’’ Response: We are not aware of any instance where an RHY grantee has used ‘‘conversion therapy’’ or ‘‘reparative therapy’’ to aim to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. However, we agree it would be wholly inappropriate for this to take place and are amending this final rule to explicitly exclude, by definition, conversion therapy from allowable counseling services and health care services. Additionally, we have revised the final rule by adding a new § 1351.16(b) that states, ‘‘A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.’’ Additionally, we have revised ‘‘counseling services’’ and ‘‘health care E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93046 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 services’’ in § 1351.1 to specifically exclude conversion therapy by adding language at the end of the definition that says ‘‘[a]ny treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is prohibited.’’ Conversion therapy is a controversial practice and a number of states, including Oregon, California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, have passed laws in recent years banning it. In 2001, U.S. Surgeon General issued a report stating that ‘‘there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.’’ 7 Over recent years, the Pan American Health Organization, American Psychological Association and other organizations have concluded that the practice is unethical and should be banned.8 9 10 11 Comment: Another commenter argued that we should point out the recent issuances of the Department of Education (ED) stating that the protections of title IX of the Education Act extend to gender identity and expression. Response: We agree that title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is an important statute. While the recent guidelines from ED are a new interpretation under the statute, title IX applies only to education programs. Services provided under Runaway and Homeless Youth grants in the three main service programs are not considered education programs, and therefore, title IX will rarely, if ever, apply to Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. Title IX applies to the education programs (typically public or private schools, colleges, and universities receiving federal grants from the Department of Education) to which runaway or homeless youth are sometimes referred. Therefore, we did not make changes in response to this comment. 7 b The Surgeon General’s call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior’’, A Letter from the Surgeon General U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 8 Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill (2006). Youth in the crosshairs: The third wave of ex-gay activism. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. 9 ‘‘Statement of the American Psychological Association (PDF).http://web.archive.org/web/2011 0806095055/http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/ policy/ex-gay.pdf APA.org. American Psychological Association. 10 August 2006. Archived 10 ‘‘Therapies to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health’’. Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Retrieved 26 May 2012.Archived 11 Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office of the World Health Organization; Press release May 17, 2012 ‘‘Therapies’’ to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health http://www.webcitation.org/67xKQyixE. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 Comment: Six commenters addressed the confidentiality and information disclosure requirements proposed in § 1351.19(b)(1). We had proposed this language unchanged from the present rule. Most of these commenters addressed potential disclosure to state law enforcement authorities or pursuant to court order, and argued that this would reduce the protection afforded to youth. Most commenters argued for eliminating or reducing the scope of our proposed language, which created an exception for cases in which release is ‘‘compelled by a court or statutory mandate.’’ These commenters seemed to assume that this would place youth in danger, and asserted that youth would be dissuaded from seeking help by what they perceived as weakened privacy protections. One of these commenters asked whether a subpoena would apply. Yet another commenter suggested that we create a different standard for youth served in the Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs, because the statutory text differs as to parental consent and whether consent must be informed. Response: We very much appreciate these thoughtful responses, which we have used to make important changes to the proposed language. Based on the comments received, we have modified the regulatory text to reflect the different statutory standards for youth served in the Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs, and to interpret confidentiality requirements more narrowly. With respect to the Basic Center Program, section 312(b)(7) of the Act is clear that grantees ‘‘shall keep adequate statistical records profiling the youth and family members whom it serves (including youth who are not referred to out-of-home shelter services), except that records maintained on individual runaway and homeless youth shall not be disclosed without the consent of the individual youth and parent or legal guardian to anyone other than another agency compiling statistical records or a government agency involved in the disposition of criminal charges against an individual youth. Reports or other documents based on such statistical records shall not disclose the identity of individual runaway and homeless youth.’’ For youth in Transitional Living Programs, section 322(a)(13) of the Act requires grantees ‘‘not to disclose records maintained on individual homeless youth without the informed consent of the individual youth to anyone other than an agency compiling statistical records.’’ Specific to Transitional Living Programs, the Act PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 only requires consent from the youth to release records, which is different from the Basic Center Programs which require informed consent from the individual youth and their legal guardian. Section 384 of the Act reads: ‘‘Records containing the identity of individual youth pursuant to this Act may under no circumstances be disclosed or transferred to any individual or to any public or private agency.’’ It is important to note that there are exceptions to this provision. For example, as noted previously, records may be released after proper consent of youth or parent/guardian. Further, deidentified information can be released for research purposes. De-identified is a technical term that applies to methods commonly used in sensitive research to prevent identification of individuals from a dataset. For example, names might be replaced by numbers (often much more complex steps need to be taken as well). This is further explained in the response to the comment below. We have changed the regulatory text to reflect these statutory requirements. Comment: Another commenter asked whether de-identified information could be released for purposes of program evaluation or academic research, pointing out that research using such information is essential to improving the quality of services over time. Response: The Act allows and requires research on service effectiveness (section 343), which normally cannot be measured without records on individual outcomes, but specifically prohibits disclosure or release of ‘‘records containing the identity of individual youth’’ to ‘‘any individual or any public or private agency’’ (section 384). In other places, the Act requires shelter grantees to ‘‘keep adequate statistical records’’ and allows their use in reports ‘‘based on such statistical records’’ (section 312(b)(7) for Basic Center grants; similar language applies to other services). In the light of these provisions, we interpret the statute to state that research, evaluation, and statistical reports funded by grants provided under section 343 of the Act are allowed to be based on individual data but only if such data are de-identified in ways that preclude disclosing identifiable information on individuals. We have added language in § 1351.21(a)(3) to codify this interpretation. Comment: Several other unique comments pointed out that requiring consent of both the youth and the family will not always be appropriate or consistent with state law, or consistent with the emancipated status of many E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations youth served. One commenter pointed out that the statutory requirements for consent to release of information differ for Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs. Response: We appreciate commenters bringing these issues to our attention. We agree that for the Transitional Living Program, only the individual youth’s informed consent is required under section 322(a)(13) of the Act. In addition, the Basic Center grant has different disclosure criteria under section 312(b)(7) of the Act. For Basic Center Programs, youth and parents must provide consent. We have revised the regulatory text in § 1351.21(a)(1) to reflect the statute accordingly. We did not receive any comments on paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) and therefore did not make any changes to the proposed text in this final rule. Section 1351.19(b)(5) proposed requirements that grantees serve, in a non-discriminatory fashion, individual needs of youth without regard to language, gender, or LGBTQ status, and to be ‘‘culturally sensitive and respectful of the complex social identities of youth,’’ including ‘‘religion/spirituality, gender identity/ expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs’’ as well as race and physical abilities. The inclusion of the term ‘‘behavior patterns’’ in this section will of course not prevent grantees from determining ineligible for services youth with a history or criminal record that poses a potential safety risk to other youth in the grantee’s care. Comment: We received six comments regarding proposed § 1351.19(a)(5), now § 1351.22(a), concerning ‘‘nondiscriminatory services and training’’ and ‘‘culturally sensitive’’ services. The comments principally requested that the rule establish a new legal right of individuals for protection against discrimination aimed at them personally, or including such terms as ‘‘cultural and linguistically appropriate’’ throughout the rule. Response: In response, § 1351.22 has been added, addressing discrimination in RHY grantee programs and facilities. We are changing the title of subsection (a) to clarify that this section does require that runaway and homeless youth services and training must be both ‘‘non-discriminatory and culturally and linguistically sensitive.’’ We believe it is important that all grantees and other stakeholders understand that our practice and intent is to hold grantees to practices that meet individual needs, regardless of racial, sexual orientation, cultural, or other diverse backgrounds. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 We specifically do not intend this change to reference the CLAS voluntary guideline standards of the U.S. Public Health Service, which as previously explained are inappropriate for a number of reasons (e.g., intended only for health care programs and conflicting in some respects with the requirements of the Act and best practices for runaway and homeless youth). We will continue to provide appropriate guidance to grantees on our approach through training and technical assistance. For example, there are differences among Native American tribes and some immigrant groups as to whether the locus of family authority is patrilineal or matrilineal. This should influence the practices that grantees use to approach and counsel certain families and youth they serve. We believe that our grantees generally understand these nuances quite well, since they have significant experience working with these populations. We emphasize that the language of this final rule is in no way intended to create new individual rights. Civil rights for individuals served by HHS programs are enforced through the Office for Civil Rights under its regulations and guidance and in compliance with federal civil rights law. Grantees who are unfamiliar with these laws and regulations should review our list of civil rights and other regulations that apply to HHS grantees but that are administered by other agencies. Comment: One commenter pointed out that often the provision of gender appropriate services is a matter of allowing a youth to participate in programming that is appropriate for their gender identity, or with the gendered group where they feel most safe and supported. The commenter also highlighted that the provision of gender appropriate services requires sensitivity to the diverse experiences of youth, and the process of determining what services are appropriate for a transgender youth may require individualized consultation with the youth, rather than a blanket determination of what services are necessary or appropriate based on their gender identity, sex assigned at birth, gender expression, or the status of their identity documents. Response: We agree. Section 1351.22(a) of this final regulation includes a provision to require that service delivery and staff training comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth, including the youth’s gender and gender identity. We note that best practices in this area include asking transgender, questioning and intersex clients to identify their PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93047 gender and to assign them housing based on their gender self-identification. Technical assistance to grantees will be provided on this issue. Comment: One commenter mentioned a recent HUD rule adding a new nondiscrimination right for LGBTQ adults participating in subsidized housing programs and recommended including an explicit nondiscrimination provision into these rules to harmonize the requirements applicable to the many grantees receiving funding from both HUD and HHS. Response: The HUD rule mentioned is grounded in the applicable housing statutes. Therefore, we did not add these specific provisions to the rule. However, § 1351.22 of the final rule was added to address discrimination in RHY grantee programs and facilities. This section includes strong non-discrimination standards for LGBTQ individuals. Comment: Two commenters argued that our use of the term ‘‘gender specific’’ might be misinterpreted as requiring segregation, such as segregation of transgender youth from their male or female peers, or separate programming on the basis of gender. Response: The full phrasing in the proposed rule stated that gender specific meant ‘‘interventions that are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and transgender youth’’ and ‘‘respectful of the complex social identities of youth’’ including ‘‘gender identity/expression’’ and ‘‘sexual orientation.’’ However, to ensure that our language is not misunderstood we have changed the term ‘‘gender specific’’ to ‘‘gender appropriate’’ in the final rule, as suggested. Comment: One commenter recommended that education, age, cognitive ability, and physical ability be added to the list of ‘‘complex social identities of youth in § 1351.19(b)(5)’’ of the proposed rule. Response: We have reviewed these suggestions. We do not believe that ‘‘education’’ is needed on a list of ‘‘complex social identities of youth,’’ as education is not part of a youth’s social identity and is instead something that a youth achieves. However, we do agree that ‘‘age’’ and ‘‘cognitive’’ ability, as well as ‘‘physical ability,’’ should be included in paragraph (a). We have made these changes in the final rule. Subpart C. Additional Requirements As discussed in the previous section of this preamble, the final rule expands on § 1351.19 of the proposed rule and provisions of this section have been reorganized in §§ 1351.20 through 1351.22 to address, ‘‘What Government- E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93048 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations wide and HHS-wide regulations apply to these programs?,’’ ‘‘What confidentiality requirements apply to these programs?,’’ and ‘‘What additional requirements apply to these programs?,’’ respectively, and these sections are now included in subpart C of the final rule. Additional changes to subpart C of the proposed rule are discussed below. We requested comments on whether there is substantial evidence that these or any other requirements not proposed here would improve program outcomes, either overall or for each type of grant, at reasonable effort and cost. We also requested comment on whether placing either the proposed standards or additional standards in funding opportunity announcements rather than in regulations would allow sufficient flexibility to grantees or would hinder our ability to use targeted initiatives to improve program practices. Under § 1351.20(a), we proposed revising the language requiring grantees to participate in technical assistance and training in order to allow flexibility in which techniques will be used, and proposed clarifying that grantees must also accept monitoring. This list of technical assistance and training options reflected primarily the evolution and expansion over the years of the training and technical assistance program, and the items listed are all conducted currently under the program. Requirements we proposed to add are core competencies for youth workers, core support services, cultural and linguistic diversity, background checks, ethics, and staff safety. In particular, we proposed positive youth development as a priority area for training or technical assistance. Under our proposal, grantees would participate in technical assistance or short-term training as a condition of funding, as determined necessary by HHS, in areas such as, but not limited to: • Aftercare services or counseling; • Background checks; • Core competencies of youth workers; • Core support services; • Crisis intervention techniques; • Cultural and linguistic diversity; • Development of coordinated networks of private nonprofit agencies and/or public agencies to provide services; • Ethics and staff safety; • Fiscal management; • Low cost community alternatives for runaway or otherwise homeless youth; • Positive youth development; • Program management; • Risk and Protective Factors related to youth homelessness; VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 • Screening and assessment practices; • Shelter facility staff development; • Special populations (tribal youth; LGBTQ; intersex youth; youth with disabilities; youth victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse), • Trauma and the effects of trauma on youth; • Use of evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions; • Youth and family counseling; and • Confidentiality policies and protocols. This is a substantial addition but one that we believe is useful to reflect the current set of policy and program priorities as set forth in the Act and in the program solicitations and management improvements that have been made in the overall program in recent years. Virtually all of these proposed provisions were derived from specific statutory mandates and are already part of standard operating procedures. Many participants in our consultative process also suggested most of these items, reflecting the general consensus as to their importance in operating effective services. We received six comments on this subsection. Comment: Several comments were supportive and raised no questions. Several comments posed questions about the training requirements. Four commenters asked whether all individuals on grantee staff would have to receive training or technical assistance, or if this requirement could be applied to certain grantee staff but not all, particularly when staff members are not regularly in contact with youth. One commenter asked whether all individuals would have to receive all types of training, or whether training could be tailored to each individual’s role in providing services. Several commenters asked that only individuals in contact with youth more than 10 hours a week be required to participate in training. Another commenter asked who would decide what technical assistance is needed and who will provide it. One commenter asked whether new hires would have to be trained before employment begins. Yet another commenter asked several questions about whether grantees could provide their own training or whether the federal government would provide the curriculum. Response: First, the new language would not require every single individual to participate in every kind of training. To clarify this provision further, we have added a sentence at the end of paragraph (a) that highlights that this it is not a requirement that every staff person receive training in every subject PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 but all youth-serving workers on staff should receive training sufficient to meet the stated core competencies of youth workers. This training is offered by ACF. ACF will provide the development of the curriculum for all training and technical assistance as well as provide access to courses and materials. The vast majority of these trainings will be available on the internet. We hope that this will provide the greatest flexibility for our grantees. If for any reason, a staff member is not able to participate in the training from the federal government, the grantee can provide its own training based on the ACF materials. Additionally, grantees are expected to provide in-house training to new hires on some of the most critical responsibilities, without waiting for the next available Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) course. Some kinds of training or technical assistance, beyond core competencies, may be mandated for all grantees in funding opportunity announcements, in other cases only for those identified as needing help. In still other cases, grantees will request help in particular areas. ACF offers different formats and levels of training within a variety of subjects, allowing quick training for many and indepth training for few. More information about these resources is available at our online Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (see: http:// www.rhyttac.net/about/what-rhyttac). Comment: One commenter asked us to add ‘‘secondary trauma and self-care’’ to our list of required subjects in § 1351.20(a) of the proposed rule. Response: We agree that trauma is an extremely important issue and think that proposed list of training and technical assistance sufficiently addresses trauma and the effects of trauma on youth. We encourage grantees to include secondary trauma in their training when discussing the effects of trauma on youth. Grantees are welcome and encouraged to train staff beyond requirements listed in this regulation. In addition, there are multiple ways to propose changes as identified on the RHYTTAC Web site, including contacting RHYTTAC leadership, membership on or contact with the National Advisory Board, using the RHYTTAC Community of Practice, participating in workshops, or contacting subject matter experts. Comment: One commenter asked us to change ‘‘cultural and linguistic diversity’’ in paragraph (a) to ‘‘culturally E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations and linguistically appropriate.’’ This commenter also asked that we clarify that crisis intervention techniques be interpreted to include knowledge and learning for suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Response: We agree and have made the change to ‘‘culturally and linguistically sensitive services’’ in the final rule. We agree that crisis intervention techniques include suicide prevention. No change is needed in the wording of the final rule, however, on this latter point. Under § 1351.20(b), we proposed minor technical revisions to update the existing provision requiring coordination with the National Runaway Safeline. Under our proposal, grantees shall coordinate their activities with the 24-hour national toll-free communication system, which links Runaway and Homeless Youth projects and other service providers with runaway or otherwise homeless youth, as appropriate to the specific activities provided by the grantee. At present, this system is called the National Runaway Safeline, its Web site is www.1800runaway.org, and the toll-free number is 1–800–RUNAWAY. We received no comments on this provision and the language is unchanged in the final rule. Under § 1351.20(c), we proposed a technical revision to the reporting provision to require grantees to submit statistical reports that profile the clients served and that provide management and performance information in accordance with guidance provided by HHS. Such data submission was handled through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) and is now being handled through an integrated RHYMIS/HUD Management Information System (HMIS). While these information systems are a major innovation and improvement tool in program data collection, updating the regulatory reference is a minor change from a regulatory perspective. The existing rule quotes specific statutory language in place when the rule was written. The Act now contains additional requirements (see in particular sections 312(b)(7) and (8), and section 322(a)(9)). For example, it explicitly states that Runaway and Homeless Youth projects ‘‘shall keep adequate statistical records profiling the youth and family members whom it serves,’’ that grantees ‘‘shall submit annual reports to the Secretary detailing how the center has been able to meet the goals of its plans,’’ and that grantees shall submit ‘‘statistical summaries describing . . . the number and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 characteristics of the runaway and homeless youth . . . who participate . . . and the services provided to such youth.’’ We proposed to revise this section to require appropriate reporting and to delete specific quotations from the Act. Comment: We received two comments directly on § 1351.20(c). One commenter argued for acceptance of data from a system called Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) in RHYMIS. One commenter quoted several research studies in arguing that the RHYMIS data significantly understate the number of LBGT youth who are homeless and recommended improving grantee recording of such information through technical assistance and training. Response: We are continually working to improve our data collection system. We will continue to work to improve data reporting and will consider these comments under the integrated HMIS system, which has now incorporated RHYMIS. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number for RHYMIS is 0970–0123, which has a current expiration date of February 28, 2018. We are looking to revise data standards to reduce the burden associated with filling out the data for the RHY program by the Spring of 2017, with the effective date of October 1, 2017. Comment: Six comments on either the preamble or this provision recommended that RHYMIS be coordinated or combined with the HMIS system used in HUD’s homeless programs. Several of these commenters also mentioned the Point In Time (PIT) counts used by HUD to estimate the number of homeless. One commenter pointed out that it is essentially forced to use three database systems: Its own internal system, RHYMIS, and HMIS. Response: We agree and as noted, ACF and HUD are coordinating the integration of the RHYMIS with HMIS systems. Specific information about the integration process and the data standards grantees are required to comply with has been and will continue to be provided to grantees in separate guidance from FYSB. Comment: One unique comment recommended that client confidentiality be protected under the merged system. Response: We agree and the confidentiality standards set forth in the Act will apply to access to information in the integrated system. We proposed adding a new regulatory requirement for outreach for the three major grant programs. Outreach is a key statutory requirement of these programs. We proposed in § 1351.20(d) that PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93049 grantees perform outreach to locate runaway and homeless youth, and to coordinate activities with other organizations serving the same or similar clients. Comment: We received several comments on these provisions. One commenter was strongly supportive and raised no issues. One commenter asked what expectation we had for Basic Center grantees. One commenter pointed out that outreach efforts are needed to ensure that vulnerable youth, including LGBTQ youth, are made aware of available services, and that training related to special populations such as these that is culturally and linguistically appropriate is important. Another commenter suggested coordinated outreach and services with Continuums of Care, child welfare, and law enforcement. Response: While the roles and level of effort of each type of grantee will differ, the Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Program grantees are all expected to perform at least some outreach services. We point out that local coordination is also part of this requirement, and that for this as well there will be differences among types of grantees as to how that is performed and the appropriate level of effort. With regards to the question of what expectations for outreach will be for Basic Center grantees, under section 312(c) and (e) of the Act, Basic Center grantees must outreach to youth if the grantees are providing street-based or drug abuse services. Beyond these statutory requirements, outreach by Basic Centers grantees is appropriate in other circumstances as well. Therefore, we maintained this requirement for Basic Center Programs. Additionally, in the final rule, based on comments related to coordination of activities and services, we specified that coordination should occur with organizations, such as child welfare agencies, juvenile justice systems, schools, and Continuums of Care, as defined by HUD. We requested comments on the following two proposed requirements. First, under paragraph (e), we proposed that grantees shall develop and implement a plan for addressing youth who have run away from foster care placement or correctional institutions and for returning those youth appropriately to the responsible organizations, in accordance with federal, state, or local laws or regulations that apply to these situations. Second, under § 1351.20(f) of the proposed rule, we proposed that grantees take steps to ensure that youth who are under the legal jurisdiction of E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93050 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations the juvenile justice or child welfare systems receive services from those systems until such time as they are released from the jurisdiction of those systems. The purpose of these provisions is to provide a clear demarcation between services that are the legal and financial responsibility of other programs, and services that are the responsibility of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program. Comment: We received six comments on § 1351.20(e) and (f). One commenter asked what federal, state, and local laws we were referencing. One commenter questioned whether returning a child to foster care or the criminal justice system would always be in the best interest of the child. The commenter proposed language that essentially said the return need not be immediate, but that grantees had to act in accordance with applicable laws. Another commenter asked about the case where a youth might be eligible for child welfare services but was not currently enrolled. Response: Regarding applicable laws, the federal law likely to apply in such cases is title IV–B and IV–E of the Social Security Act, implemented through regulations at 45 CFR parts 1355 through 1357. The programs authorized by these statutes are operated through the states and tribes. There are various state and local juvenile justice and foster care laws in all states and some older youth may also be subject to laws that apply to adults. In addition to federal law, grantees are expected to know the applicable laws and systems in their own jurisdictions and to coordinate with the responsible agencies. One specific example of a possible problem given by the commenter was of a child fleeing from an abusive foster home. In such cases, the foster care agency would be legally responsible for finding an alternative, safe foster home placement. As to the criminal justice system, grantees that failed to act in accordance with state law (e.g., regarding escapees from correctional institutions) could find themselves in violation of criminal statutes. We have not changed our proposed language to address these suggestions in the final rule because, as a practical matter, RHY grantees have little or no discretion in such situations. However, in paragraph (e) we have incorporated the statutory requirement in section 312(b)(4) of the Act which requires Basic Center grantees to develop a plan that ensures the return of youth who have run away from correctional institutions to those institutions. In all cases, grantees are responsible for seeking outcomes that are in the best interest of the child and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 are expected to do so within the legal and regulatory frameworks in which they operate. This includes, for example, seeking to place youth into child welfare systems if reuniting the family is not reasonably possible. All of these steps are relevant to the aftercare requirement that follows. We proposed to codify three provisions focused on the need to serve youth outside the program, which have previously been included in RHY funding opportunity announcements. Under proposed § 1351.20(g), which in the final rule is § 1351.26(a), grantees shall develop and implement an aftercare plan, covering at least six months, to stay in contact with youth who leave the program in order to ensure their ongoing safety. A youth’s individual aftercare plan shall outline what services were provided, including appropriate referrals for needed health care services, the youth’s housing status, and the rate of participation and completion of the services in the plan at three months and at six months after exiting the program. In § 1351.20(h), which in the final rule is § 1351.26(b), we proposed that grantees shall develop and implement a plan for health care service referrals for youth during the service and aftercare periods. Under proposed § 1351.20(i), which in the final rule is § 1351.26(c), we proposed that grantees shall assist youth to stay connected with their schools or to obtain appropriate educational services. This includes coordination with McKinney-Vento school district liaisons, designated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, to assure that runaway and homeless youth are provided information about the services available under that Act. Under that law, which is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of homeless children in U.S. public schools, school districts are required to provide equal access to the same free, appropriate public education provided to other children and youth and to undertake additional steps as needed for such access. For example, school districts must identify potential barriers to the education of homeless youth, and homeless youth may not be segregated from other students. We received almost 24 unique comments on these proposed requirements, some of which represented individuals, while others represented several hundred individuals and/or organizations. Comment: More than six unique comments raised an issue as to whether it is appropriate under § 1351.20(g) of the proposed rule to require Street Outreach Program grantees to provide PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 aftercare plans. Several commenters noted that the Act does not include such a requirement for these grantees. Commenters argued that these grantees rarely had more than brief contact with youth, and were expected to refer them to other service providers (including Basic Center and Transitional Housing grantees) who would be both qualified and responsible for developing such plans. Response: We agree that this requirement should not apply to the Street Outreach Program and have revised the final rule to exclude those grantees from its coverage. Comment: Another six unique commenters, some of which represent numerous individuals and organizations, on § 1351.20(g) of the proposed rule, which in the final rule is § 1351.26(a), stated that six months was far too long to continue a youth’s aftercare plan and to stay in contact with youth who leave the program. Commenters expressed concern that youth would no longer be participating in the program and it would be difficult or impossible to contact them six months after exiting the programs. One commenter suggested limiting the aftercare requirement to two months. Response: In response to comments raising concerns as to whether most youth can be contacted in six months, we have modified the final rule to provide for such contacts and documentation of service completion at three months after exiting the BCP and TLP programs. Three months will provide youth the time they need to transition out of the RHY program and adjust to their new housing arrangement while avoiding the challenges associated with the longer six month timeframe. While a two month after care plan was also proposed by one commenter, we did not feel this was enough time to allow youth to fully adjust after their participation in an RHY program. Comment: More than six unique commenters, all from service providers or organizations representing service providers, on § 1351.20(g) of the proposed rule, which in the final rule is § 1351.26(a), stated that the overall requirement of providing aftercare services for six months after a child’s exit from the program was unduly burdensome and cost prohibitive to meet. Several of these pointed out that such follow-up would be impossible in several common situations that affect many of those served. For example: Youth cannot be located after leaving program; youth can be located but refuse to stay in contact; foster care agencies taking over service planning E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations and refusing to share information or allow contact; or parental refusal to allow further contact. Several suggested that the requirement be limited to those clients who were in contact with the program for some minimum length of stay, such as two weeks for the Basic Center Program and three months for the Transitional Living Program. These same commenters suggested that the requirement be limited to those clients who requested and consented to followup. One commenter endorsed the requirements of the proposed rule and argued it should be even stronger, by incentivizing programs to build strong relationships with other service providers in the community and leverage those to better client outcomes. One commenter said this was an important area for improvement, but that ‘‘we struggle with keeping track of youth after they leave our program,’’ a problem cited in a number of comments. One commenter suggested that the requirement be changed to offering youth aftercare services and documenting those actually provided, with ratings only on participation rates. Another commenter said that the grantee calls all youth and their guardians at four to six weeks post-exit, but is able to locate only about 25 percent due to ‘‘ever changing residences and cell phone numbers.’’ Yet another comment in the same vein said that its success rate in contacting youth was only about 5 percent at six months, and that those who actually needed assistance generally contacted the center themselves. Finally, one commenter questioned whether grantees had the resources to follow the youth into such systems or upon release from such systems. Response: We are persuaded by these comments that the requirement as proposed was unrealistically burdensome. The revisions to exclude the Street Outreach Program and to require contact only after three months will reduce the burden substantially. We have revised the final rule to require that such plans be developed for all BCP and TLP youth, and included in exit counseling, covering at least three months after the youth leaves the program. Grantees should follow up with youth during and at the end of the three month timeframe. We understand that it may be difficult to contact 100 percent of youth, but grantees should attempt to contact all youth within this period. In addition, we have added the requirement in section 312(b)(5) of the Act that, as possible, Basic Center program grantees should provide counseling and aftercare services to VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 youth who are returned beyond the state in which a runaway and homeless youth services is located, as possible. Comment: Three commenters suggested that the requirement in § 1351.20(h) of the proposed rule regarding access to health care services also include connecting youth with organizations that assist in enrolling in public or private health insurance. One commenter asked how health care would be paid for and objected to the expense of a new health care service plan. One commenter said that the text of this provision should not include aftercare, since that was covered under the previous provision, arguing that this was duplicative, confusing, and potentially very costly if it were read to require a detailed referral plan for each client’s specific services. Another commenter said that the aftercare requirement should include not only health care services, but also health insurance. Response: We think the idea of including referrals for health insurance advice (where appropriate) in the health services plan is a useful addition to the planning requirement. Many sources of information which can assist in providing insurance information are available to youth. Key among these resources are the state Medicaid agency and local Navigators and Application Assisters established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some youth will be insured under an existing parental plan funded through employer insurance (such plans cover some families). In all states, youth are eligible for Medicaid if they are in a household with income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and meet other non-financial eligibility requirements, such as citizenship or eligible immigration status and state residence. It is also important to note that most states cover children under 19 at higher income levels. Youth over 19 may be eligible for Medicaid coverage in a variety of eligibility categories; their eligibility for Medicaid may also depend on whether they live in a state that has chosen to expand Medicaid for adults age 19 to 65. In addition, some youth may have sufficient income (above 100% of the FPL) to receive financial assistance to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. We are not asking grantees to plan specific services for each youth, but to plan for and, as appropriate, provide referrals to health care providers, such as health centers and other service providers for low-income and vulnerable patients, with or without insurance. Grantees should also consider additional referrals as appropriate. We are also not asking PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93051 grantees to manage or finance the provision of health care. Accordingly, we have revised the final rule text to include health insurance referrals in the health services plan. In most cases, this would be handled through family counseling and reunification services since the great majority of parents have family insurance. In this regard, we note that the great majority of family health insurance policies now cover children up to age 26. Also, youth under 26 who age-out of Foster Care and are enrolled in Medicaid at the time that they age out are eligible for Medicaid from their state, with no income eligibility requirements. We did not eliminate the reference to aftercare in the rule, as we consider it critical that referrals to health services should extend into the aftercare period. We have also revised the text to exempt Street Outreach Program grantees from this requirement, per the discussion above. Comment: We received several comments on § 1351.20(i) of the proposed rule regarding schooling and education. One commenter asked that we add a mandated service linkage to employment and training programs, since these provide a path towards economic self-sufficiency. Two commenters asked that we add college as an option and specifically referenced grantees making youth aware of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) service. The commenter noted that FAFSA does not necessarily require parental tax information precisely because it recognizes that there are situations where that is not feasible. Response: These are valid suggestions. While returning to school will be the typical pathway for runaway and homeless youth, some of them (particularly older youth) will prefer job training or employment and some will have already graduated from high school. Many federally-funded and state and local job placement and training programs are aimed at school dropouts or recent graduates. College is an obvious option for many youth. For many, employment and education can often be managed together, to the benefit of youth with little or no other source of income. We have modified the text of the final rule to cover these options. We have also changed the text to exempt Street Outreach Program grantees from this requirement, and to make the language parallel with the language on health care services. The Act, at sections 312(b)(13) and 322(a)(16), specifically requires grantees to develop emergency plans. We proposed to adopt this requirement under § 1351.20(j) of the proposed rule by requiring that grantees develop and E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93052 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations document plans that address steps to be taken in case of a local or national situation that poses risk to the health and safety of staff and youth. Emergency preparedness plans should, at a minimum, include routine preventative maintenance of facilities (e.g., fire extinguishers and alarms checked, furnace serviced) as well as preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The plan should contain strategies for addressing evacuation, security, food, medical supplies, and notification of youths’ families, as appropriate. In the event of an evacuation due to specific facility issues, such as a fire, loss of utilities, or mandatory evacuation by the local authorities, an alternative location needs to be designated and included in the plan. Grantees must immediately provide notification to their project officer and grants officer when evacuation plans are executed. ACF has an Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response that can provide technical assistance, in collaboration with FYSB/ACYF and the ACF Regions, to support grantee development of emergency preparedness plans. Comment: One commenter asked that we include suicide prevention and postintervention plans in the requirement for emergency planning under § 1351.20(j) of the proposed rule. Response: We did not make this change because this provision is intended to cover emergencies that affect entire facilities or all or most clients, not individual health crises. We already require that individual client treatment plans cover both physical and mental health, which is inclusive of suicide prevention. In § 1351.20(k), which is numbered § 1351.23(h) in this final rule, we clarify that shelters operated by grantees must meet any applicable state or local licensure requirements, and that grantees determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer clients also meet such requirements. We did not propose to establish as a federal requirement that grantees meet any other state or local laws. Comment: One comment stated that ACF should develop guidance for cases where such licensure requirements conflicted with nondiscrimination or other standards established by these rules or other HHS requirements. Response: In the event there appears to be a conflict between federal law or regulations and state or local licensing standards, we will handle these on a case-by-case basis through monitoring and regular contact with grantees, since licensing laws differ in every state and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 jurisdiction. Based on this case-by-case approach, we did not amend the final rule to respond to this comment. Comment: One commenter asked how we proposed to monitor the requirement of § 1351.20(k) that shelters operated by grantees meet any applicable state or local licensure requirements, and that grantees determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer clients also meet such requirements. The commenter also asked how the federal government would know whether a state requirement existed or had been met. Response: Our regional staff will review licensure issues as part of their compliance reviews and monitoring visits. FOAs may include requiring an agency to provide documentation of a valid license, as well as coordination with the state or local agency when licensing is in question. In addition, if a facility is found by a state or local agency to fail licensure requirements, the state or local agency will presumably act to impose proper sanctions. Likewise, grantees themselves have huge incentives to meet state licensure requirements not only to remain open, but also because that is a condition of grant award and there are sanctions that can be levied for non-compliance, including loss of funding and debarment from future awards (see non-procurement debarment, which is second on our list of applicable federal regulations). We have revised the regulatory language to require grantees to report to HHS instances when they fail to meet licensing requirements or lose their license. The rule now states, ‘‘grantees shall promptly report to HHS instances in which shelters are cited for failure to meet licensure or related requirements, or lose licensure. For grantee-operated facilities, failure to meet any applicable state or local legal requirements as a condition of operation may be grounds for grant termination’’. Under § 1351.20(l), which is numbered § 1351.23(j) in this final rule, we initially proposed to require that all employees and volunteers be subject to a broad range of background checks for criminality and suitability (see the definition of background check). We also proposed to require that all adult host homes occupants be subjected to criminal and child abuse checks. Comment: One commenter suggested adding consultants as individuals who should be subject to background checks. Several commenters objected to subjecting volunteers to the same check as employees (e.g., why employment records or driving records for volunteers?) or argued that the proposed PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 definition was ambiguous as to what was required for volunteers. In particular, several commenters pointed out that many volunteers may be onetime attendees at particular events that some staff and volunteers may not work directly with youth, that some volunteers may not have unsupervised contact with youth, and recommended exemptions in cases such as these. As examples, volunteers might be used to cook hot meals on holidays, might be guest speakers, or might visit as members of a community group. Response: We agree with these points. We have modified the text of the final rule, as described below, to clarify that for volunteers, employees, consultants, and contractors, who have regular unsupervised contact with individual youth, and all adults who reside in or operate host homes, a background check includes an examination of criminal records, sex offender registries, a request for child abuse and neglect history, and any other checks required under state or tribal law. Comment: Several commenters asked whether the driving record check would apply only to those who transport youth. One commenter pointed out that some kinds of criminal backgrounds do not pose serious risks of harm to the grantee or clients, and asked for clarification that employment of such persons (who might have committed minor crimes as youth) not be prohibited. Several commenters noted that there was ambiguity as to what kind of national check might be required and several pointed out that at least one state performed an out-of-state check only for states in which the person has recently lived. Response: We agree that most of these comments raise valid points and have made several changes in the final rule. First, we have revised the text at § 1351.22(j) in this final rule to read that grantees shall have a plan, procedures, and standards for ensuring background checks on all employees, contractors, volunteers and consultants who have regular and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the grantee, and on all adults who reside in or operate host homes. The plans, procedures and standards must identify background check findings that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment to provide services for which assistance is made available in accordance with this part. This provides grantees’ discretion for the kinds of volunteer help that the commenters identified, and discretion to reduce the scope of the background check for those volunteers who do not work directly with youth. It also gives E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations flexibility to grantees to avoid the time and trouble of background checks for job applicants who will not be offered employment for other reasons. We agree with the commenter who pointed out that consultants may take on duties similar to employees, perhaps involving unsupervised contact with youth, and should therefore be subject to background checks. We also added new provisions to § 1351.23(j) to clarify that programs are required to obtain state or tribal criminal history records with fingerprint checks, federal criminal history records with fingerprints (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award), a sex offender registries check, and a child abuse and neglect registry check (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award). We point out that the rule also requires training in a number of subjects, including the administration and use of background checks that will cover cases such as these. Also, while we note that the requirement in the rule does not propose a specific standard or criterion for ‘‘passing’’ a background check, grantees should have a set of ‘‘passing’’ criteria in place. In this regard, we note there are issues of fiduciary stewardship such as potential embezzlement, not just crimes such as rape or assault that may be identified by background checks. In the final rule, we did not limit background checks to the state of the grantee, as suggested by several commenters. Instead we are requiring state or tribal criminal history records including fingerprint checks as well as Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records including fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award. The federal background check will provide RHY providers with critical information about both in-state and out-of-state histories of prospective employees and volunteers. Criminal activity may not be limited to one state, and not all states share information through reciprocal agreements. As such, limiting a background check to only a single state could miss important criminal history. We also are aware that there may be complications or challenges with securing federal background checks. The background check requirements also include a child abuse and neglect state registry check VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award), sex offender registries checks, and other checks required by state or local law. The essence of the final requirement is that grantees are responsible for developing plans and procedures that reasonably protect youth while minimizing unnecessary costs and burden while allowing for effective services. Under proposed § 1351.20(m), which is numbered § 1351.23(a) in this final rule, positive youth development (PYD), which has been a central framework of the program for years, would be required. PYD emphasizes: • Healthy messages to adolescents about their bodies, behaviors, interpersonal relationships, and interactions; • Safe and structured places for teens to study, recreate, and socialize; • Strong relationships with adult role models; • Skill development in literacy competence, work readiness, and social skills; and • Opportunities for youth to serve others and build self-esteem. Runaway and Homeless Youth projects that adopt these principles provide the youth they serve with opportunities for positive use of time, for positive self-expression and selfdevelopment, and for constructive civic and social engagement. Accordingly, we proposed under this section to require PYD on a program-wide basis. Under this paragraph, grantees must utilize and integrate into the operation of their projects the principles of positive youth development, including healthy messages, safe and structured places, adult role models, skill development, and opportunities to serve others. Comment: We received one comment on this section. That commenter praised this provision but pointed out that LGBTQ youth were at greater risk than heterosexual peers for a variety of physical and mental problems, and could therefore benefit disproportionately from skills and messages associated with positive youth development services. This comment asked that ACF provide additional nonregulatory guidance on messaging to assist such youth in developing identity formation and acceptance. Response: Our Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center provides extensive tools and technical assistance, including those aimed at LGBTQ youth (see, for example, our recent ‘‘Research Review of Evidence-Based Practices for RHY in PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93053 the Doman of LGBTQ’’ at http:// www.rhyttac.net/sites/default/files/ resources/EBP%20Literature%20 Review%20for%20LGBTQ %20Services.pdf). We will continue to work with stakeholders and researchers to develop information and guidance to improve services to these youth. We have made no changes to this provision. We preface § 1351.23(a) of this final rule with the statement that there are numerous other possible requirements related to positive youth development that could have been included in this section of the final rule. We did not propose such additional requirements for three reasons. First, it is difficult to craft requirements that do not unduly constrain grantee flexibility by imposing a ‘‘one size fits all’’ approach that does not in fact reasonably apply to particular grantees, particular situations, or particular staff. Second, such requirements almost by necessity create burdens, e.g. for recordkeeping or reporting to demonstrate that grantees meet the requirement. Third, we use funding opportunity announcements to further clarify requirements and guidance for particular grant recipients. These announcements provide the flexibility to add particular requirements (including temporary priorities) without going through a rulemaking process and, more importantly, allow far more flexibility to adapt as needed over time. For instance, the 2014 funding opportunity announcement for the Basic Center Program (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ grants/open/foa/view/HHS-2014-ACFACYF-CY-0792) gives examples of practices to follow or services that agencies can provide. This language allows grantees the option to provide most but not all of these services. This would allow, for example, for the situation in which another agency provides a key service and the grantee can use referral arrangements. Particularly in a program dealing with such complex problems, and given the extreme variation in service availability from other providers in particular localities, we believe that funding opportunity announcements are often a preferable vehicle for encouraging certain practices and partnerships. To this end, we have included language in § 1351.22(l) in this final rule, stating that grantees must provide such other services and meet such additional requirements as HHS determines are necessary to carry out the purposes of the statute, as appropriate to the services and activities for which they are funded. These services and requirements will be articulated in the funding opportunity E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93054 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations announcements and other guidance issued by FYSB. This includes operational instructions and standards of execution determined by the Secretary or Secretarial designees to be necessary to properly perform or document meeting the requirements applicable to particular programs or projects. We received no comments on this provision, and it is retained unchanged in the final rule. Language has been moved from § 1351.22(b) to § 1351.23(m) as it applies to all programs, stating that nothing in this rule gives the federal government control over staffing and personnel decisions. This will be interpreted to mean that FYSB will not make direct hiring decisions. At the same time, rules regarding nondiscrimination and background checks, and other requirements still apply. In addition to the requirements that all RHY grantees must meet, there are additional requirements specific to each of the three core RHY programs which stem from the Act and the unique purposes of each program. We proposed to create a new § 1351.21 ‘‘What are the additional requirements that the Basic Center Program grantees must meet?’’ This section addresses the additional program specific requirements that are central to the purposes of the Basic Center Program. First, we proposed under paragraph (a) that all Basic Center grantees shall have an intake procedure that is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to all youth seeking services and temporary shelter. The intake process must, at all hours, enable staff to address and respond to young people’s immediate needs for crisis counseling, food, clothing, shelter, and health care services. The second proposed requirement under paragraph (b) describes the primary function described under the Act for Basic Center grantees, requiring that grantees shall provide, either directly or through arrangements, access to temporary shelter 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Any grantee that did not provide temporary living services to eligible youth would not be meeting an essential function of the program (section 311(a)(2) of the Act). Note that this requirement allows for a combination of facilities that are directly operated by the grantee, operated by others, or accessible through referral. Third, under paragraph (c), we proposed to require that Basic Center grantees provide case management, counseling and referral services that meet client needs and that encourage, when in the best interests of youth particularly with regard to safety, the involvement of parents or legal VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 guardians. Under paragraph (d), we proposed to require that grantees provide additional core support services to clients both residentially and nonresidentially, as appropriate. The core services must include case planning, skill building, recreation and leisure activities, and aftercare. Again, this is an essential function of the program established by the Act and codification in this final rules does not require changes in program operations. Under paragraph (e), we proposed to require that grantees make contact with the parent(s), legal guardian or other relatives of each client within 72 hours of entering the program with a ‘‘best interest of the youth’’ exception allowed for disclosure of the location if additional information is needed to ensure the safety of the youth. The ‘‘best interest of the youth’’ would be defined by the state child welfare legal requirements with respect to child protective services and law enforcement mandated reporting. Finally, under paragraph (f), we proposed that grantees be subject to any additional requirements that are included in the FOA. We received several comments on these proposals and made revisions as appropriate. Comment: We received two comments on the proposed requirement in § 1351.21(a) and (b) of the proposed rule for 24/7 assistance to youth seeking shelter, crisis counseling, shelter, health care, and other services. One commenter strongly endorsed the proposal. One commenter on crisis counseling asked for clarification to indicate that this should be interpreted broadly to include immediate needs for suicide prevention counseling and treatment as well as other immediate mental health crises. Response: ‘‘Health care services’’ as proposed covers both physical and mental health needs and services, whether related to suicide prevention or to other physical or mental problems. The final rule text is unchanged from the proposal. Comment: We received two comments on the proposed requirement in § 1351.21(c) of the proposed rule for referral services that meet client needs and that encourage the involvement of parents or legal guardians when in the best interests of the child, particularly taking into account safety. One commenter endorsed the proposal and pointed out that a youth may change his mind on parental contact, recommended use of best practices, and suggested that child welfare be contacted before parents to be sure no safety or other issues existed. The other commenter also endorsed the proposal and requested clarification that safety PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 address not only physical but also mental health, arguing that parental involvement may create a hostile environment detrimental to LGBTQ youth. Response: This requirement deals with both physical and mental safety, for both LGBTQ clients and all other clients where safety threats may exist. As to contacting child welfare before the parents, that will sometimes be appropriate but will depend on the judgment of the staff according to individual cases (indeed, in some cases law enforcement systems will need to be contacted first). Normally, parental involvement will be first. We agree that the situation can be fluid and that the views of the youth can change. Again, staff will have to make case-by-case judgments over time. The final rule text is unchanged. Comment: We received one comment on § 1351.21(c) of the proposed rule asking that the term ‘‘trauma-informed’’ be added as a specific reference to counseling under the Basic Center grantee requirements. This same comment was made on the corresponding provisions for Street Outreach, Transitional Living, and Maternity Group Homes (MGH) Program grantees. Response: Counseling is understood to deal with any serious issues facing each youth, including trauma, among others, and we agree with the comment that programs should use a trauma informed and evidenced-based approach when such evidence is reliably available. Additionally, we require training and technical assistance materials be very clear on this point and that they provide guidance on trauma issues. We also note that our definition of screening and assessment refers specifically to trauma and the potential need for in-depth diagnostic assessments and services. We have revised paragraph (c) to include an emphasis on trauma-informed care and evidenced-based approaches that must be part of the core services provided. In addition to this requirement, we added a corresponding performance standard designed to measure each grantee’s ability to ensure that youth receive counseling services that are trauma informed and match their individual needs. We received no comments on § 1351.21(d) of the proposed rule and have left it unchanged in this final rule. Comment: We received two comments on § 1351.21(e) of the proposed rule. One commenter argued against creating the 72-hour standard and recommended that we defer to state law in deciding whether or when to contact parents. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations This commenter also argued that missing children’s databases, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, should be checked within 72 hours of the youth entering the program. This commenter pointed out that fear of contact with child welfare, law enforcement, or parents is a major barrier to youth seeking services, and that one research study found it to be the most important barrier. The other commenter raised three concerns. First, the proposed language does not deal with cases where the parent cannot be located or will not respond. Second, the comment argues, we should defer to state law both as to timing of parental notification and also as to the ‘‘best interest’’ decision. Third, the commenter disagreed with preamble language stating, ‘‘best interest of the youth would be defined by the state child welfare legal requirements with respect to child protective services and law enforcement mandated reporting.’’ This commenter gave examples where ‘‘best interest’’ cases might arise even when mandatory reporting to state agencies is not required, such as threats of harm to the youth. Response: As these comments demonstrate, this issue area is complex as well as important. Section 312(b)(3) of the Act says that Basic Center grantees ‘‘shall develop adequate plans for contacting the parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the safe return of the youth according to the best interests of the youth.’’ To align better with the statute and to address the comments raised in the proposed rule, we are amending the proposed rule language to say that grantees ‘‘shall, as soon as feasible and no later than 72 hours of the youth entering the program, contact the parents, legal guardians or other relatives of each youth according to the best interests of the youth. If a grantee determines that it is not in the best interest of the client to contact the parents, legal guardian or other relatives of the client, they must (i) inform another adult identified by the child, (ii) document why it is not in the client’s best interest to contact the parent, legal guardian or other relative and (iii) send a copy of the documentation to the regional program specialist for review.’’ Additionally, if the grantee is unable to locate, or the youth refuses to disclose the contact information of, the parent(s), legal guardian or other relative of the client within 72 hours of entering the program the grantee will follow the protocols set forth in paragraph (e). Examples of when it would not be in the best interest of the child to contact the parents include instances of severe VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 physical or emotional abuse, or fear of harm to the child. Regarding the 72-hour timeframe, based on the past practice of our grantees, it has been determined that making a notification within 72 hours allows grantees time to assess whether contacting parents will be in the best interest of a child. However, we encourage grantees to contact parents or guardians sooner if appropriate and possible. Comment: We received one comment on § 1351.21(f) regarding our intention to use FOAs to impose any additional requirements. The commenter expressed concern over possible misinterpretations of intent by grant application reviewers. Response: The proposed rule language is retained in the final rule without changes because FOAs are routinely updated and grant application reviewers are fully trained on new provisions in a systematic way. Additionally, contact information for RHY program staff is provided on each FOA and grantees are always encouraged to ask questions about the announcement. While ACF/ FYSB may not necessarily provide individual responses to every inquiry, responses, when provided, will be posted and made available to all applicants. Responses may be given if information is included the FOA. However, if questions do not pertain to information found in the FOA, ACF has a policy of not providing direct guidance or instruction in the development and writing of an application. We also proposed a new § 1351.22 ‘‘What are the additional requirements that the Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees must meet?’’ to include specific requirements for core services to be provided by the programs. Under paragraph (a), we proposed requiring that grantees provide transitional living arrangements and additional core services including case planning/ management, counseling, skill building, consumer education, referral to needed social and health care services, and education, recreation and leisure activities, aftercare, and, as appropriate to grantees providing maternity-related services, parenting skills, child care, and child nutrition. Additionally, under paragraph (b), we proposed requiring that Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees be subject to any additional requirements included in the FOA. We received no comments on this section and make no changes in the final rule. We proposed to create a new § 1351.23 ‘‘What are the additional PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93055 requirements that the Street Outreach Program grantees must meet?’’ The proposed requirements were specific to the purposes of the Street Outreach Program. We proposed under paragraph (a) to require that SOP grantees provide services designed to assist clients in leaving the streets, in making healthy choices, and in building trusting relationships in areas where targeted youth congregate. Under paragraph (b), we proposed to require SOP grantees provide directly or by referral other core services to their clients. Finally, under paragraph (c), we proposed to require that SOP grantees be subject to any additional requirements included in the FOA. We received no comments on this section other than those previously addressed, and make no changes in the final rule. Subpart D. What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific standards? Section 386A of the Act requires performance standards be established for Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Programs. In addition to requirements that apply to all Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs, we proposed to establish a new Subpart that creates specific standards for each major type of local services grant, with a focus on performance-based standards. Performance standards focus directly on program outcomes. More specifically, we explained that performance standards are focused on four core outcomes: (1) Social and emotional well-being; (2) permanent connections; (3) education or employment; and (4) stable housing. Research indicates that improvements on risk and protective factors can serve as pathways to get to better outcomes in these four core areas.12 13 14 These four core outcomes are expected to lead to healthy and productive transitions to adulthood for homeless youth. In the proposed rule, some of the performance standards included specific quantifiable metrics. Comment: We received several comments regarding difficulties with requiring grantees to contact the parent(s), legal guardian, or other relatives of clients within 72 hours of 12 Kidd, S., & Shahar, G. (2008). Resilience in homeless youth: The key role of self-esteem. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78 (2), 163. 13 Milburn, N.G., Jane Rotheram-Borus, M., Batterham, P., Brumback, B., Rosenthal, D., & Mallett, S. (2005). Predictors of close family relationships over one year among homeless young people. Journal of Adolescence, 28(2), 263–275. 14 Milburn, N., Liang, L., Lee, S., Roteram-Borus, M., Rosenthal, D., Mallett, S., et al. (2009). Who is doing well? A typology of newly homeless adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 37 (2), 135–147. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 93056 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations entering the program to inform them that the youth is safe, with a determination to be made on a case-bycase basis of whether it is in the best interests of the youth to notify the parent(s), legal guardian or other relatives of the location of the youth until further information has been gathered to assure safety. Response: After reviewing these comments and the entire final rule, we decided to remove the 72-hour requirement from the performance standards since it is already included in § 1351.24(e). It was clear that this was duplicative and unnecessary since the same language was already included in the Basic Center Program requirements. Comment: We received two comments related to health care services. One commenter asked that we add health insurance to this section. The other commenter asked that we revise the proposed language to clarify that the referral plan is for the program as a whole, not for each individual client. Response: We have revised the language to make clear that a referral plan shall, as appropriate, cover referral for insurance services as well as for health care services. Individualized plans are required. We have, however, modified the language to make clear that the grantee responsibility is to make referrals, not to arrange or monitor the actual provision of specific medical care services, insurance, or insurance coverage. Those functions are the responsibility of the health care providers themselves, and the youth who are their patients, not of our grantees. The regulatory provisions concerning pre-natal care, well-baby exams, and immunizations for Maternity Group Home grantees are fully adopted without changes in this final rule. Comment: Almost all commenters addressing performance standards for the Basic Center Program welcomed the idea of performance standards but criticized the proposed 90 percent standard in § 1351.30(b) for youth transitioning to safe and appropriate settings when exiting Basic Center Program settings. Many commenters said that 90 percent was an unrealistically high goal, and proposed lower standards, such as 75 percent. One commenter mentioned the option of a corrective action plan at the lower percent level. Another suggested imposing the standard only for youth who stay enrolled for more than seven days. Another pointed out that some youth would leave as soon as they are informed of mandatory reporting to state agencies. One commenter said it was not within the grantee’s control if youth VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 simply run from the center to an unknown destination. One commenter questioned whether the preamble was accurately describing past achievement rates near 90 percent. Several commenters were concerned that the proposed standard would reduce the willingness of grantees to enroll the hardest to serve clients, and suggested adjusting performance measures based on participant characteristics to create incentives to target services to the most vulnerable youth. Several commenters said that without more flexible standards for safe exits, the proposed standard would be impossible to achieve. Several commenters said that without better exit criteria the performance standard should be lowered to 60 percent. Several commenters pointed out that for very small centers the 90 percent standard could be missed by a change of just one or two youth making a different decision. We received almost twenty unique comments on the proposed performance standards for the Transitional Living Program. Essentially the same group of commenters as commented on the quantitative performance criteria for the Basic Center Program commented on these criteria for the Transitional Living Program. These commenters made similar or identical arguments, especially against the 90 percent standard for exit to safe and appropriate settings. Some also addressed the 45 percent standard for community service, and one of these criticized that standard as somewhat inconsistent with the program’s goals of securing education, employment, and safe housing. This comment suggested conceptually different measures, such as providing youth the opportunity to perform community service once a month. Several comments to the proposed performance criteria for the Street Outreach Program criticized our proposal to count total contacts as ambiguous. For example, would contacting the same youth multiple times count the same as contacting multiple youth once each? One comment suggested that it might be possible to develop a good performance measure from the percentage of youth contacted that accepted shelter, case management, or other services. Another comment asked about the dividing line between a youth who was a contact and a youth who was a client. Another comment suggested that any such measure would be skewed downward in cases where the same youth was contacted multiple times but only accepted housing after the final PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 encounter. Several comments criticized the total contacts measure as meaningless given the different sizes of Street Outreach Program service areas and the different sizes of individual programs. Two of these comments recommended that we adjust the measure by the population of the service area or by population density; the latter reflecting the presumably greater difficulty of reaching youth in rural areas. A third said the total contacts measure should be used as a reporting requirement, but dropped as a performance measure. One commenter praised the proposed numeric standard in § 1351.32 and suggested no specific change. One commenter proposed broader measures such as comparing the number contacted to the estimated universe of runaway and homeless youth in the service area. One commenter suggested comparing the number contacted to the total population in the service area. This commenter also recommended that HHS convene SOP grantees to collaboratively determine what standards should be used. One commenter suggested collecting data on the immediate outcomes of outreach contacts, but not setting specific performance standards. One commenter mentioned the option of comparing the total number of youth contacted to the number accepting services and criticized it because contacting a single youth many times, such as 20 times, followed by that youth finally accepting shelter, would lead to a misleading 5 percent effectiveness figure. Response: Based on the feedback received, we have revised the performance standards for the Basic Center, the Transitional Living, and Street Outreach Programs. For the Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs, the performance standards are focused on outcomes: (1) Social and Emotional Well-being; (2) Permanent Connections; (3) Education or Employment; and (4) Stable Housing. We also included definitions of these terms in Subpart A of this rule. These definitions were derived directly from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Federal Framework to End Youth Homelessness. The Street Outreach Program performance standards maintain a focus on the number of youth contacts completed. We have decided to remove the numerical metrics from the regulatory language for Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach Programs. Specific numeric metrics based on the performance standards will be outlined E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations in future Funding Opportunity Announcements. These numeric metrics will be developed using RHYMIS and HMIS data collected under existing data collection systems such as RHYMIS and HMIS (OMB Control Number 0970– 0123) and its successors, as well as performance progress reports (OMB control number 0970–0406) and its successors. This will give FYSB flexibility to analyze data reported by grantees and set realistic benchmarks over time through existing data collection and grant reporting methods. For the Street Outreach Program performance standards, we interpret the standard as allowing each contact with the same youth on later occasions to count as a new contact, but see no need to amend the language. Youth receiving services should be counted as clients rather than contacts. We will make these points clear in training and technical assistance materials and in the HMIS system’s reporting directions. Finally, we appreciate the conceptual improvement of a percentage measure related to acceptance of services, but think that it would be very difficult to measure accurately in practice. We will explore that idea further in consultations with grantees and stakeholders, as a possible future improvement. After careful consideration of the various criticisms of and suggestions for improving the performance standard, we have added language to the end of this Street Outreach Program performance standards section that will determine appropriate proportions of contacts based on grantee staff size through existing data collection and grant reports. Specific numeric metrics will be outlined in future Funding Opportunity Announcements. FYSB will provide more specific guidance and training and technical assistance to grantees on collection and reporting data. In the final rule, we also added language that reinforces that grantees need to report data about each of the performance standards. This language was inconsistently incorporated into the proposed rule. To ensure clarity, the final rule explicitly includes language related to reporting within each performance standard subparagraph. We did not propose performance standards for technical assistance and other grants that do not provide direct services. We do not believe that support grants such as these lend themselves to across-the-board, outcome-oriented performance standards such as those proposed here. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 Revising Performance Standards We proposed to create a new § 1351.33 ‘‘How and when will performance standards for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program be revised?’’ We stated that for those performance standards for which benchmarks would not be set in the codified rule, benchmarks might be set in the coming years as data are collected. Additionally, we said that as grantees improve performance, it might be necessary to adjust the benchmark on a given performance standard in the coming years. Furthermore, we stated that as more is learned about how to improve outcomes, performance standards themselves might need to be modified or added. The rulemaking process is not conducive to making quick or on-going adjustments. We did not receive comments on this section but have determined since publishing the proposed rule that this section is not needed because it does not directly relate to the responsibilities of the grantees. Therefore, we have deleted this section in the final rule text. Effective Dates We proposed to create a new § 1351.34 ‘‘When Are Program-Specific Requirements Effective?’’ We proposed that grantees shall meet program specific requirements, as applicable, upon the effective date of this final rule, or starting at the beginning of the next budget period for the grant, whichever comes later. Since most budget periods begin on October 1 of each year, this means that grantees would have however many days there are between the issuance of final regulations and that date, but never less than 30 days. While we received no comments on this newly created section, we acknowledge the effective date is included as part of the regulations publication in the Federal Register, so there is no reason to add a specific section for this purpose. The section has been deleted from the final rule. VII. Impact Analysis Paperwork Reduction Act This final rule contains no new information collection requirements because all information required in the performance standards has been collected by RHYMIS. The OMB Control Number for RHYMIS is 0970–0123, which has a current expiration date of February 28, 2018. We are looking to revise data standards to reduce the burden associated with filling out the data for the RHY program by the Spring of 2017, with the effective date of October 1, 2017. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93057 Regulatory Flexibility Act The Secretary certifies that this final rule will not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We have not imposed any new requirements that will have such an effect. This final rule conforms to the existing statutory requirements and existing practices in the program. In particular, we have imposed only a few new processes, procedural, or documentation requirements that are not encompassed within the existing rule, existing FOAs, or existing information collection requirements. None of these will impose a consequential burden on grantees. Accordingly, a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. Regulatory Impact Analysis Executive Order 12866 requires that regulations be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the priorities and principles set forth in the Executive Order. HHS has determined that this final rule is consistent with these priorities and principles. The Executive Order requires a Regulatory Impact Analysis for proposed or final rules with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Nothing in this final rule approaches effects of this magnitude. This rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. Congressional Review This rule is not a major rule (economic effects of $100 million or more) as defined in the Congressional Review Act. Federalism Review Executive Order 13132, Federalism, requires that federal agencies consult with state and local government officials in the development of regulatory policies with federalism implications. This rule will not have substantial direct impact on the states, on the relationship between the National Government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with the Executive Order we have determined that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. Family Impact Review Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1999 (Pub L. 105–277) requires federal agencies to issue a Family Policymaking Assessment for any rule that may affect family well-being. This E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93058 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations rule would not have any new or adverse impact on the autonomy or integrity of the family as an institution. Like the existing rule and existing program practices, it directly supports family well-being, for example supporting reunification and ongoing family counseling to prevent homelessness wherever safe and feasible. Since we made no changes that would affect this policy priority, we have concluded that it is not necessary to prepare a Family Policymaking Assessment. List of Subjects in 45 CFR Part 1351 Administrative practice and procedure, Grant programs—social programs, Homeless, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Technical assistance, Youth. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Numbers 93.550, Transitional Living for Homeless Youth; 93.557, Education and Prevention Grants to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway, Homeless and Street Youth; and 93.623, Basic Center Grants for Runaway Youth) Mark H. Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. Approved: March 16, 2016. Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary. Editorial note: This document was received at the Office of the Federal Register on December 12, 2016. For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 45 CFR part 1351 is revised as follows: ■ PART 1351—RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS YOUTH PROGRAM 1. The authority citation for part 1351 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5701. Subpart A—Definition of Terms ■ 2. Revise § 1351.1 to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 § 1351.1 Significant Terms. For the purposes of this part: Act means the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq. Aftercare means additional services provided beyond the period of residential stay that offer continuity and supportive follow-up to youth served by the program. Background check means the review of an individual employee’s or employment applicant’s personal information, which shall include State or Tribal criminal history records (including fingerprint checks); Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 records, including fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award; a child abuse and neglect registry check, to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award; and a sex offender registry check for all employees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers who have regular, unsupervised contact with individual youth, and for all adult occupants of host homes. As appropriate to job functions, it shall also include verification of educational credentials and employment experience, and an examination of the individual’s driving records (for those who will transport youth), and professional licensing records. Case management means identifying and assessing the needs of the client, including consulting with the client, and, as appropriate, arranging, coordinating, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for a package of services to meet the specific needs of the client. Client means a runaway, homeless, or street youth, or a youth at risk of running away or becoming homeless, who is served by a program grantee. Congregate care means a shelter type that combines living quarters and restroom facilities with centralized dining services, shared living spaces, and access to social and recreational activities, and which is not a family home. Contact means the engagement between Street Outreach Program staff and youth who are at risk of homelessness or runaway status or homeless youth in need of services that could reasonably lead to shelter or significant harm reduction. Contact may occur on the streets, at a drop-in center, or at other locations known to be frequented by homeless, runaway, or street youth. Core competencies of youth worker means the ability to demonstrate skills in six domain areas: (1) Professionalism (including, but not limited to, consistent and reliable job performance, awareness and use of professional ethics to guide practice); (2) Applied positive youth development approach (including, but not limited to, skills to develop a positive youth development plan and identifying the client’s strengths in order to best apply a positive youth development framework); (3) Cultural and human diversity (including, but not limited to, gaining PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 knowledge and skills to meet the needs of clients of a different race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation); (4) Applied human development (including, but not limited to, understanding the developmental needs of those at risk and with special needs); (5) Relationship and communication (including, but not limited to, working with clients in a collaborative manner); and (6) Developmental practice methods (including, but not limited to, utilizing methods focused on genuine relationships, health and safety, intervention planning). Counseling services means the provision of guidance, support, referrals for services including, but not limited to, health services, and advice to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families, as well as to youth and families when a young person is at risk of running away, as appropriate. These services are provided in consultation with clients and are designed to alleviate the problems that have put the youth at risk of running away or contributed to his or her running away or being homeless. Any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is prohibited. Drop-in center means a place operated and staffed for runaway or homeless youth that clients can visit without an appointment to get advice or information, to receive services or service referrals, or to meet other runaway or homeless youth. Drug abuse education and prevention services means services to prevent or reduce drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth, and may include: (1) Individual, family, group, and peer counseling; (2) drop-in services; (3) assistance to runaway and homeless youth in rural areas (including the development of community support groups); (4) information and training relating to drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth for individuals involved in providing services to such youth; and (5) activities to improve the availability of local drug and/or alcohol abuse prevention services to runaway and homeless youth. Education or employment means performance in and completion of educational and training activities, especially for younger youth, and starting and maintaining adequate and stable employment, particularly for older youth. Health care services means physical, mental, behavioral, and dental health E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations services. It includes services provided to runaway and homeless youth and in the case of Maternity Group Homes also includes services provided to a pregnant youth and the child(ren) of the youth. Where applicable and allowable within a program, it includes information on appropriate health related services provided to family or household members of the youth. Any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is prohibited. Home-based services means services provided to youth and their families for the purpose of preventing such youth from running away or otherwise becoming separated from their families and assisting runaway youth to return to their families. It includes services that are provided in the residences of families (to the extent practicable), including intensive individual and family counseling and training relating to life skills and parenting. Homeless youth means an individual who cannot live safely with a parent, legal guardian, or relative, and who has no other safe alternative living arrangement. For purposes of Basic Center Program eligibility, a homeless youth must be less than 18 years of age (or higher if allowed by a state or local law or regulation that applies to licensure requirements for child- or youth-serving facilities). For purposes of Transitional Living Program eligibility, a homeless youth cannot be less than 16 years of age and must be less than 22 years of age (unless the individual commenced his or her stay before age 22, and the maximum service period has not ended). Host family home means a family or single adult home or domicile, other than that of a parent or permanent legal guardian, that provides shelter to homeless youth. Intake means a process for gathering information to assess eligibility and the services required to meet the immediate needs of the client. The intake process may be operated independently but grantees should, at minimum, ensure they are working with their local Continuum of Care Program to ensure that referrals are coordinated and youth have access to all of the community’s resources. Juvenile justice system means agencies that include, but are not limited to, juvenile courts, correctional institutions, detention facilities, law enforcement, training schools, or agencies that use probation, parole, and/ or court ordered confinement. Maternity group home means a community-based, adult-supervised VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 transitional living arrangement where client oversight is provided on site or on-call 24 hours a day and that provides pregnant or parenting youth and their children with a supportive environment in which to learn parenting skills, including child development, family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their long-term economic independence and ensure the well-being of their children. Outreach means finding runaway, homeless, and street youth, or youth at risk of becoming runaway or homeless, who might not use services due to lack of awareness or active avoidance, providing information to them about services and benefits, and encouraging the use of appropriate services. Permanent connections means ongoing attachments to families or adult role models, communities, schools, and other positive social networks which support young people’s ability to access new ideas and opportunities that support thriving, and they provide a social safety net when young people are at-risk of re-entering homelessness Risk and protective factors mean those factors that are measureable characteristics of a youth that can occur at multiple levels, including biological, psychological, family, community, and cultural levels, that precede and are associated with an outcome. Risk factors are associated with higher likelihood of problematic outcomes, and protective factors are associated with higher likelihood of positive outcomes. Runaway youth means an individual under 18 years of age who absents himself or herself from home or place of legal residence without the permission of a parent or legal guardian. Runaway and Homeless Youth project means a community-based program outside the juvenile justice or child welfare systems that provides runaway prevention, outreach, shelter, or transition services to runaway, homeless, or street youth or youth at risk of running away or becoming homeless. Safe and appropriate exits means settings that reflect achievement of the intended purposes of the Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs as outlined in section 382(a) of the Act. Examples of Safe and Appropriate Exits are exits: (1) To the private residence of a parent, guardian, another adult relative, or another adult that has the youth’s best interest in mind and can provide a stable arrangement; (2) To another residential program if the youth’s transition to the other residential program is consistent with the youth’s needs; or PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93059 (3) To independent living if consistent with the youth’s needs and abilities. Safe and appropriate exits are not exits: (1) To the street; (2) To a locked correctional institute or detention center if the youth became involved in activities that lead to this exit after entering the program; (3) To another residential program if the youth’s transition to the other residential program is inconsistent with the youth’s needs; or (4) To an unknown or unspecified other living situation. Screening and assessment means valid and reliable standardized instruments and practices used to identify each youth’s individual strengths and needs across multiple aspects of health, wellbeing and behavior in order to inform appropriate service decisions and provide a baseline for monitoring outcomes over time. Screening involves abbreviated instruments, for example with trauma and health problems, which can indicate certain youth for more thorough diagnostic assessments and service needs. Assessment, which is used here to mean assessment more broadly than for the purposes of diagnosis, involves evaluating multiple aspects of social, emotional, and behavioral competencies and functioning in order to inform service decisions and monitor outcomes. Service plan or treatment plan means a written plan of action based on the assessment of client needs and strengths and engaging in joint problem solving with the client that identifies problems, sets goals, and describes a strategy for achieving those goals. To the extent possible, the plan should incorporate the use of trauma informed, evidencebased, or evidence-informed interventions. As appropriate, the service and treatment plans should address both physical and mental safety issues. Short-term training means the provision of local, state, or regionallybased instruction to runaway or otherwise homeless youth service providers in skill areas that will directly strengthen service delivery. Social and emotional well-being means the development of key competencies, attitudes, and behaviors that equip a young person experiencing homelessness to avoid unhealthy risks and to succeed across multiple domains of daily life, including school, work, relationships, and community. Stable housing means a safe and reliable place to call home. Stable housing fulfills a critical and basic need for homeless youth. It is essential to E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93060 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations enabling enable functioning across a range of life activities. State means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any territory or possession of the United States. Street youth means an individual who is a runaway youth or an indefinitely or intermittently homeless youth who spends a significant amount of time on the street or in other areas that increase the risk to such youth for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, prostitution, or drug and/or alcohol abuse. For purposes of this definition, youth means an individual who is age 21 or less. Supervised apartments mean a type of shelter setting using building(s) with separate residential units where client supervision is provided on site or on call 24 hours a day. Technical assistance means the provision of expertise or support for the purpose of strengthening the capabilities of grantee organizations to deliver services. Temporary shelter means all Basic Center Program shelter settings in which runaway and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis intervention, and other services on a 24hour basis for up to 21 days. The 21 day restriction is on the use of RHY funds through the Basic Center Program, not a restriction on the length of stay permitted by the facility. ■ 3. Revise the Subpart B heading to read as follows: Subpart B—Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grants ■ 4. Revise § 1351.10 to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 § 1351.10 What is the purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants? (a) The purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants is to establish or strengthen communitybased projects to provide runaway prevention, outreach, shelter, and transition services to runaway, homeless, or street youth or youth at risk of running away or becoming homeless. (b) Youth who have become homeless or who leave and remain away from home without parental permission are disproportionately subject to serious health, behavioral, and emotional problems. They lack sufficient resources to obtain care and may live on the street for extended periods, unable to achieve stable, safe living arrangements that at times put them in danger. Many are urgently in need of shelter, which, depending on the type of Runaway and Homeless Youth project, can include VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 host family homes, drop-in centers, congregate care, or supervised apartments, and services, including services that are linguistically appropriate, responsive to their complex social identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical ability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs), and acknowledge the environment they come from. Runaway and Homeless Youth grant services should have a positive youth development approach that ensures a young person has a sense of safety and structure; belonging and membership; self-worth and social contribution; independence and control over one’s life; skills to develop plans for the future and set goals; and closeness in interpersonal relationships. To make a successful transition to adulthood, runaway youth, homeless youth, and street youth also need opportunities to complete high school or earn a general equivalency degree, learn job skills, and obtain employment. HHS operates three programs to carry out these purposes through direct local services: The Basic Center Program; the Transitional Living Program (including Maternity Group Homes); and the Street Outreach Program. HHS operates three additional activities to support achievement of these purposes: Research, evaluation, and service projects; a national communications system to assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with service providers; and technical assistance and training. ■ 5. Revise § 1351.11 to read as follows: § 1351.11 Who is eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? Public (state and local) and private non-profit entities, and coordinated networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the juvenile justice system. ■ 6. Revise § 1351.12 to read as follows: § 1351.12 Who gets priority for the award of a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? (a) In selecting applications for grants under the Basic Center Program the Secretary shall give priority to— (1) Eligible applicants who have demonstrated experience in providing services to runaway and homeless youth; and (2) Eligible applicants that request grants of less than $200,000 or such figure as Congress may specify. (b) In selecting applications for grants under the Transitional Living Program, PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 the Secretary shall give priority to entities that have experience in providing to homeless youth shelter (such as group homes, including maternity group homes, host family homes, and supervised apartments) and services (including information and counseling services in basic life skills which shall include money management, budgeting, consumer education, and use of credit, parenting skills (as appropriate), interpersonal skill building, educational advancement, job attainment skills, and mental and physical health care) to homeless youth. (c) In selecting applicants to receive grants under the Street Outreach Program, the Secretary shall give priority to public and nonprofit private agencies that have experience in providing services to runaway and homeless, and street youth. (d) In selecting grants for the national communication system to assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with their families and with service providers, the Secretary shall give priority to grant applicants that have experience in providing electronic communications services to runaway and homeless youth, including telephone, Internet, mobile applications, and other technology-driven services. (e) In selecting grants for research, evaluation, demonstration and service projects, the Secretary shall give priority to proposed projects outlined in section 343(b) and (c) of the Act. (f) The Secretary shall integrate the performance standards outlined in §§ 1351.30, 1351.31, or 1351.32 into the grantmaking, monitoring, and evaluation processes of the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and Street Outreach Program. Specific details about how performance standards will be considered, along with examples of performance documentation, will be provided in the annual funding opportunity announcements. ■ 7. Revise § 1351.13 to read as follows: § 1351.13 What are the Federal and nonFederal match requirements under a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? The federal share of the project represents 90 percent of the total project cost supported by the federal government. The remaining 10 percent represents the required project match cost by the grantee. This may be a cash or in-kind contribution. ■ 8. Revise § 1351.15 to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations § 1351.15 What costs are supportable under a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? (a) For all grant programs, costs that can be supported include, but are not limited to, staff training and core services such as outreach, intake, case management, data collection, temporary shelter, transitional living arrangements, referral services, counseling services, and aftercare services. Costs for acquisition and renovation of existing structures may not normally exceed 15 percent of the grant award. HHS may waive this limitation upon written request under special circumstances based on demonstrated need. (b) For grants that support research, evaluation, and service projects; a national communications system to assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with service providers; and for technical assistance and training grants; costs that can be supported include those enumerated above as well as services such as data collection and analysis, telecommunications services, and preparation and publication of materials in support of the purposes of such grants. ■ 9. Revise § 1351.16 to read as follows: § 1351.16 What costs are not allowable under a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? (a) A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover the capital costs of constructing new facilities, or operating costs of existing community centers or other facilities that are used partially or incidentally for services to runaway or homeless youth clients, except to the extent justified by application of cost allocation methods accepted by HHS as reasonable and appropriate. (b) A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. ■ 10. Revise § 1351.17 to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 § 1351.17 How is application made for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant? An applicant should follow instructions included in funding opportunity announcements, which describe procedures for receipt and review of applications. ■ 11. Revise § 1351.18 to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 § 1351.18 What criteria has HHS established for deciding which Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant applications to fund? In reviewing applications for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant, HHS takes into consideration a number of factors, including, but not limited to: (a) Whether the grant application meets the particular priorities, requirements, standards, or evaluation criteria established in funding opportunity announcements; (b) A need for Federal support based on the likely number of estimated runaway or otherwise homeless youth in the area in which the Runaway and Homeless Youth project is or will be located exceeding the availability of existing services for such youth in that area; (c) For runaway and homeless youth centers, whether there is a minimum residential capacity of four (4) and a maximum residential capacity of twenty (20) youth in a single structure (except where the applicant assures that the state where the center or locally controlled facility is located has a state or local law or regulation that requires a higher maximum to comply with licensure requirements for child and youth serving facilities), or within a single floor of a structure in the case of apartment buildings, with a number of staff sufficient to assure adequate supervision and treatment for the number of clients to be served and the guidelines followed for determining the appropriate staff ratio; (d) Plans for meeting the best interests of the youth involving, when reasonably possible, both the youth and the family. For Basic Center grantee applicants, the grantee shall develop adequate plans for contacting the parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the safe return of the youth according to the best interests of the youth, for contacting local government officials pursuant to informal arrangements established with such officials by the runaway and homeless youth center, and for providing for other appropriate alternative living arrangements; (e) Plans for the delivery of aftercare or counseling services to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families; (f) Whether the estimated cost to HHS for the Runaway and Homeless Youth project is reasonable considering the anticipated results; (g) Whether the proposed personnel are well qualified and the applicant agency has adequate facilities and resources; PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93061 (h) Past performance on a RHY grant, including but not limited to program performance standards; (i) Whether the proposed project design, if well executed, is capable of attaining program objectives; (j) The consistency of the grant application with the provisions of the Act and these regulations; and (k) Other factors as outlined in funding opportunity announcements. § 1351.19 [Removed] 12. Remove § 1351.19. 13. Revise Subpart C to read as follows: ■ ■ Subpart C—Additional Requirements Sec. 1351.20 What Government-wide and HHSwide regulations apply to these programs? 1351.21 What confidentiality requirements apply to these programs? 1351.22 What additional requirements apply to these programs? 1351.23 What are the additional requirements that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Program grants? 1351.24 What are the additional requirements that the Basic Center Program grantees must meet? 1351.25 What are the additional requirements that the Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees must meet? 1351.26 What are the additional requirements that both the Basic Center and Transitional Living Program grantees must meet? 1351.27 What are the additional requirements that the Street Outreach Program grantees must meet? Subpart C—Additional Requirements § 1351.20 What Government-wide and HHS-wide regulations apply to these programs? A number of other rules and regulations apply or potentially apply to applicants and grantees. These include: (a) 2 CFR part 182—Government-wide Requirements for Drug Free Workplace; (b) 2 CFR part 376—Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension (c) 45 CFR part 16—Procedures of the Departmental Grant Appeals Board; (d) 45 CFR part 30—Claims Collection; (e) 45 CFR part 46—Protection of Human Subjects; (f) 45 CFR part 75—Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards, including nondiscrimination requirements. (g) 45 CFR part 80— Nondiscrimination Under Programs Receiving Federal Assistance Through the Department of Health and Human E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93062 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Services Effectuation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (h) 45 CFR part 81—Practice and Procedure for Hearings Under part 80; (i) 45 CFR part 84— Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance; (j) 45 CFR part 86— Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities receiving Federal Financial Assistance; (k) 45 CFR part 87—Equal Treatment for Faith Based Organizations; (l) 45 CFR part 91— Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Age in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance; (m) 45 CFR part 92— Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities; and (n) 45 CFR part 93—New Restrictions on Lobbying. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 § 1351.21 What confidentiality requirements apply to these programs? Several program policies regarding confidentiality of information, treatment, conflict of interest and state protection apply to recipients of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants. These include: (a) Confidential information. Pursuant to the Act, no records containing the identity of individual youth, including but not limited to lists of names, addresses, photographs, or records of evaluation of individuals served by a Runaway and Homeless Youth project, may be disclosed or transferred to any individual or to any public or private agency except: (1) For Basic Center Program grants, records maintained on individual runaway and homeless youth shall not be disclosed without the informed consent of the individual youth and parent or legal guardian to anyone other than another agency compiling statistical records or a government agency involved in the disposition of criminal charges against an individual runaway and homeless youth; (2) For Transitional Living Programs, records maintained on individual homeless youth shall not be disclosed without the informed consent of the individual youth to anyone other than an agency compiling statistical records; (3) Research, evaluation, and statistical reports funded by grants provided under section 343 of the Act are allowed to be based on individual data, but only if such data are deidentified in ways that preclude disclosing information on identifiable individuals; and (4) Youth served by a Runaway and Homeless Youth project shall have the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 right to review their records; to correct a record or file a statement of disagreement; and to be apprised of the individuals who have reviewed their records. (b) State law protection. HHS policies regarding confidential information and experimentation and treatment shall not apply if HHS finds that state law is more protective of the rights of runaway or otherwise homeless youth. (c) Procedures shall be established for the training of project staff in the protection of these rights and for the secure storage of records. § 1351.22 What additional requirements apply to these programs? (a) Non-discriminatory and culturally and linguistically sensitive services and training. Service delivery and staff training must comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth as well as be language appropriate, gender appropriate (interventions that are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and transgender youth and consistent with the gender identity of participating youth), and culturally sensitive and respectful of the complex social identities of youth (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs). No runaway youth or homeless youth shall, on any of the foregoing bases, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in whole or in part under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. (1) The criteria that grantees adopt to determine eligibility for the program, or any activity or service, may include an assessment of the needs of each applicant, and the health and safety of other beneficiaries, among other factors. (2) [Reserved] (b) Medical, psychiatric or psychological treatment. No youth shall be subject to medical, psychiatric, or psychological treatment without the consent of the youth and, for youth under the age of emancipation in their state of residence, consent of a parent or guardian, if required by state law. (c) Conflict of interest. Employees or individuals participating in a program or project under the Act shall not use their positions for a purpose that is, or gives the appearance of being, motivated by a desire for private gain for themselves or others, particularly those with whom they have family, business or other ties. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 § 1351.23 What are the additional requirements that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Program grants? To improve the administration of these Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs by increasing the capacity of Runaway and Homeless Youth projects to deliver services, by improving their performance in delivering services, and by providing for the evaluation of performance: (a) Grantees shall participate in technical assistance, monitoring, and short-term training as a condition of funding, as determined necessary by HHS, in such areas as: Aftercare services and counseling; background checks; core competencies of youth workers; core support services; crisis intervention techniques; culturally and linguistically sensitive services; participation in or development of coordinated networks of private nonprofit agencies and/or public agencies to provide services; ethics and staff safety; fiscal management; low cost community alternatives for runaway or otherwise homeless youth; positive youth development; program management; risk and protective factors related to youth homelessness; screening and assessment practices; shelter facility staff development; special populations (tribal youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ), and intersex youth; youth with disabilities; youth victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse); trauma and the effects of trauma on youth; use of evidence-based and evidenceinformed interventions; and youth and family counseling. It is not a requirement that every staff person receives training in every subject but all staff members who work directly with youth should receive training sufficient to meet the stated core-competencies of youth workers. (b) Grantees shall coordinate their activities with the 24-hour National tollfree and Internet communication system, which links Runaway and Homeless Youth projects and other service providers with runaway or otherwise homeless youth, as appropriate to the specific activities provided by the grantee. (c) Grantees shall submit statistical reports profiling the clients served and providing management and performance information in accordance with guidance provided by HHS. (d) Grantees shall perform outreach to locate runaway and homeless youth and to coordinate activities with other organizations serving the same or similar client populations, such as child welfare agencies, juvenile justice E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations systems, schools, and Continuums of Care, as defined by HUD. (e) Grantees shall develop and implement a plan for addressing youth who have run away from foster care placement or correctional institutions, in accordance with federal, state, or local laws or regulations that apply to these situations. In accordance with section 312(b)(4) of the Act, Basic Center grantees must also develop a plan that ensures the return of runaway and homeless youth who have run away from the correctional institution back to the correctional institution. (f) Grantees shall take steps to ensure that youth who are or should be under the legal jurisdiction of the juvenile justice or child welfare systems obtain and receive services from those systems until such time as they are released from the jurisdiction of those systems. (g) Grantees shall develop and document plans that address steps to be taken in case of a local or national situation that poses risk to the health and safety of staff and youth. Emergency preparedness plans should, at a minimum, include routine preventative maintenance of facilities as well as preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The plan should contain strategies for addressing evacuation, security, food, medical supplies, and notification of youths’ families, as appropriate. In the event of an evacuation due to specific facility issues, such as a fire, loss of utilities, or mandatory evacuation by the local authorities, an alternative location needs to be designated and included in the plan. Grantees must immediately provide notification to their project officer and grants officer when evacuation plans are executed. (h) Grantees shall ensure that all shelters that they operate are licensed and determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer clients have evidence of current licensure, in states or localities with licensure requirements. Grantees shall promptly report to HHS instances in which shelters are cited for failure to meet licensure or related requirements, or lose licensure. For grantee-operated facilities, failure to meet any applicable state or local legal requirements as a condition of operation may be grounds for grant termination. (i) Grantees shall utilize and integrate into the operation of their projects the principles of positive youth development, including healthy messages, safe and structured places, adult role models, skill development, and opportunities to serve others. (j) No later than October 1, 2017, grantees shall have a plan, procedures, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 and standards for ensuring background checks on all employees, contractors, volunteers, and consultants who have regular and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the grantee, and on all adults who reside in or operate host homes. The plans, procedures, and standards must identify the background check findings that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment to provide services for which assistance is made available in accordance with this part. (1) Required background checks include: (i) State or tribal criminal history records, including fingerprint checks; (ii) Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, including fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award; (iii) Child abuse and neglect state registry check, to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee’s award; (iv) Sex offender registry check; and, (v) Any other checks required under state or tribal law. (2) Programs must document the justification for any hire where an arrest, pending criminal charge or conviction, is present. (k) Grantees shall provide such other services and meet such additional requirements as HHS determines are necessary to carry out the purposes of the statute, as appropriate to the services and activities for which they are funded. These services and requirements are articulated in the funding opportunity announcements and other instructions issued by the Secretary or secretarial designees. This includes operational instructions and standards of execution determined by the Secretary or secretarial designees to be necessary to properly perform or document meeting the requirements applicable to particular programs or projects. § 1351.24 What are the additional requirements that the Basic Center Program grantees must meet? (a) Grantees shall have an intake procedure that is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to all youth seeking services and temporary shelter that addresses and responds to immediate needs for crisis counseling, food, clothing, shelter, and health care services. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 93063 (b) Grantees shall provide, either directly or through arrangements, access to temporary shelter 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. (c) Grantees shall provide traumainformed case management, counseling and referral services that meet client needs and that encourage, when in the best interests of the youth particularly with regard to safety, the involvement of parents or legal guardians. (d) Grantees shall provide additional core support services to clients both residentially and non-residentially as appropriate. The core services must include case planning, skill building, recreation and leisure activities. (e) Grantees shall, as soon as feasible and no later than 72 hours of the youth entering the program, contact the parents, legal guardians or other relatives of each youth according to the best interests of the youth. If a grantee determines that it is not in the best interest of the client to contact the parents, legal guardian or other relatives of the client, or if the grantee is unable to locate, or the youth refuses to disclose the contact information of, the parent, legal guardian or other relative of the client, they must: (1) Inform another adult identified by the child; (2) Document why it is not in the client’s best interest to contact the parent, legal guardian or other relative, or why they are not able to contact the parent, legal guardian or other relative; and (3) Send a copy of the documentation to the regional program specialist for review. (f) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity announcement. § 1351.25 What are the additional requirements that the Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees must meet? (a) Grantees shall provide transitional living arrangements and additional core services including case planning/ management, counseling, skill building, consumer education, referral to needed social and health care services, and education, recreation and leisure activities, aftercare and, as appropriate to grantees providing maternity-related services, parenting skills, child care, and child nutrition. (b) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity announcement. E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3 93064 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES3 § 1351.26 What are the additional requirements that both the Basic Center and Transitional Living Program grantees must meet? (a) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and implement an aftercare plan, covering at least 3 months, to stay in contact with youth who leave the program in order to ensure their ongoing safety and access to services. A youth’s individual aftercare plan shall outline what services were and will be provided as well as the youth’s housing status during and after the program. The plan shall be provided to the youth in exit counseling or before. Follow-up efforts shall be made for all youth. For those contacted after 3 months, the plan shall be updated to record the rate of participation and completion of the services in the plan at 3 months after exiting the program. In accordance with section 312(b)(5) of the Act, as possible, Basic Center grantees shall also provide a plan for providing counseling and aftercare services to youth who are returned beyond the state in which the runaway and homeless youth service is located. (b) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and implement a plan for health care services referrals for youth during the service and aftercare periods. Such referral plans shall include health care services and referrals and counseling on insurance coverage through family health insurance plans, or to agencies that assist in enrolling persons in Medicaid or in insurance plans offered under Affordable Care Act exchanges. (c) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and implement a plan to assist youth to stay connected with their schools or to obtain appropriate educational services, training, or employment services. This includes coordination with McKinneyVento school district liaisons, designated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, to assure that runaway and homeless youth are provided information about the services available under that Act. This also includes coordination with local employment and employment training coordinating agencies or programs, coordination with local college placement services, and providing access to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. § 1351.27 What are the additional requirements that the Street Outreach Program grantees must meet? (a) Grantees shall provide services that are designed to assist clients in VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:27 Dec 19, 2016 Jkt 241001 leaving the streets, making healthy choices, and building trusting relationships in areas where targeted youth congregate. (b) Grantees shall directly or by referral provide treatment, counseling, prevention, and education services to clients as well as referral for emergency shelter. (c) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity announcement. ■ 14. Add Subpart D to read as follows: Subpart D—What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific performance standards? Sec. 1351.30 What performance standards must Basic Center Program grantees meet? 1351.31 What performance standards must Transitional Living Program grantees, including Maternity Group Homes (MGH), meet? 1351.32 What performance standards must Street Outreach Program grantees meet? Subpart D—What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific performance standards? § 1351.30 What performance standards must Basic Center Program grantees meet? (a)(1) Grantees shall consistently enhance outcomes for youth in the following four core areas: (i) Social and Emotional Well-being; (ii) Permanent Connections; (iii) Education or Employment; and (iv) Stable Housing. (2) Each grantee shall report data related to these outcomes, using existing data collection processes found under PRA OMB Control Numbers 0970–0406 and 0970–0123, and their successors. (b) Grantees shall ensure that youth receive counseling services that are trauma informed and match the individual needs of each client. Data shall be reported by each grantee on the type of counseling each youth received (individual, family and/or group counseling), the participation rate based on a youth’s service plan or treatment plan, and the completion rate based on a youth’s service plan or treatment plan, where applicable. (c) Grantees that choose to provide street-based services, home-based services, drug and/or alcohol abuse education and prevention services, and/ or testing for sexually transmitted diseases (at the request of the youth) shall ensure youth receive the appropriate services. Data shall be reported on the completion rate for each service provided based on the youth’s service or treatment plan. (d) Grantees shall ensure that youth have safe and appropriate exits when leaving the program. Each grantee shall PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 report data on the type of exit experienced by each young person departing a Basic Center Program. § 1351.31 What performance standards must Transitional Living Program grantees, including Maternity Group Homes, meet? (a)(1) Grantees shall consistently enhance outcomes for youth in the following four core areas: (i) Social and Emotional Well-being; (ii) Permanent Connections; (iii) Education or Employment; and (iv) Stable Housing. (2) Each grantee shall report data related to these outcomes, using existing data collection and reporting processes, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act and the Office of Management and Budget Control Numbers 0970–0406 and 0970–0123, and their successors. (b) Grantees shall ensure youth are engaged in educational advancement, job attainment skills or work activities while in the program. Each grantee shall report data on the type of education or job-related activities that each youth is engaged in. (c) Grantees shall ensure and report that youth receive health care referrals, including both services and insurance, as determined within their health care referral plan. (d) Maternity Group Home Grantees shall ensure and report that youth receive consistent pre-natal care, wellbaby exams, and immunizations for the infant while in the program. (e) Grantees shall ensure that youth have safe and appropriate exits when leaving the program. Each grantee shall report data on the type of exit experienced by each young person departing a Transitional Living Program. § 1351.32 What performance standards must Street Outreach Program grantees meet? Grantees shall contact youth who are or who are at risk of homeless or runaway status on the streets in numbers that are reasonably attainable for the staff size of the project. Grantees with larger staff will be expected to contact larger numbers of youth in approximate proportion, as determined by HHS, to the larger number of staff available to provide this service. Each grantee shall report data related to this outcome, using existing data collection and reporting processes, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act and the Office of Management and Budget Control Numbers 0970–0406 and 0970– 0123, and their successors. [FR Doc. 2016–30241 Filed 12–19–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184–01–P E:\FR\FM\20DER3.SGM 20DER3

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 244 (Tuesday, December 20, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 93030-93064]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-30241]



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Vol. 81

Tuesday,

No. 244

December 20, 2016

Part III





Department of Health and Human Services





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Administration for Children and Families





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45 CFR Part 1351





Runaway and Homeless Youth; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 81 , No. 244 / Tuesday, December 20, 2016 / 
Rules and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Administration for Children and Families

45 CFR Part 1351

RIN 0970-AC43


Runaway and Homeless Youth

AGENCY: Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Administration on 
Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and 
Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule reflects existing statutory requirements in 
the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and changes made via the 
Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008. More specifically, the rule 
establishes program performance standards for Runaway and Homeless 
Youth grantees providing services to eligible youth and their families. 
Revisions have been made to the rule regarding additional requirements 
that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street 
Outreach Programs, including non-discrimination, background checks, 
outreach, and training. Furthermore, the rule updates existing 
regulations to reflect statutory changes made to the Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Act, and updates procedures for soliciting and awarding 
grants. This final rule makes changes to the proposed rule published on 
April 14, 2014, and is in response to public comments recommending ways 
to improve the rule.

DATES: This final rule is effective January 19, 2017. However, 
compliance with the new performance standards is not required until the 
beginning of the next budget period after promulgation of this final 
rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher Holloway, (202) 205-9560 
(not a toll-free call). Deaf and hearing impaired individuals may call 
the Federal Dual Party Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. 
and 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Statutory Authority

    This final rule is published under the authority granted to the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services by the Runaway and Homeless 
Youth Act (Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 
Act of 1974), 42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq. as amended by the Reconnecting 
Homeless Youth Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-378). Specifically, under 42 
U.S.C. 5702, ``the Secretary of Health and Human Services . . . may 
issue such rules as the Secretary considers necessary or appropriate to 
carry out the purposes of this subchapter.''

II. Background

    The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (``the Act'') authorizes three 
major grant programs administered by the Family and Youth Services 
Bureau (FYSB), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), 
Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in the Department of 
Health and Human Services (HHS). These programs support local efforts 
to assist youth who have run away or are homeless.
    The Basic Center Grant Program (hereafter referred to as the Basic 
Center Program) funds grants to community-based public and nonprofit 
private agencies (and combinations of such entities) to establish and 
operate local centers to provide services for runaway and homeless 
youth and for the families of such youth. Services provided include the 
provision of outreach, crisis intervention, temporary shelter, 
counseling, family unification, and aftercare services to runaway and 
homeless youth and their families. Basic Center projects generally 
serve youth under 18 years of age and can provide up to 21 days of 
shelter.
    The Transitional Living Grant Program (hereafter referred to as the 
Transitional Living Program) provides grants to public and private 
organizations to establish and operate transitional living youth 
projects for homeless youth, including for community-based shelter 
including group homes, host family homes, and supervised apartments for 
youth, ages 16 to under 22, who cannot safely live with their own 
families. Transitional Living projects provide a safe, stable, and 
nurturing environment for up to 21 months. Young people who have not 
yet reached their 18th birthday at the end of the 21-month period may 
continue to receive services until they turn 18. Services include 
counseling in basic life skills, interpersonal skill building, 
educational advancement, job attainment skills, and physical and mental 
health care. These services are designed to help youth who are homeless 
develop the skills necessary to make a successful transition to self-
sufficient living. The Transitional Living Program also funds Maternity 
Group Homes, which are specifically designed to meet the needs of 
pregnant and parenting youth.
    The Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (hereafter referred to as the 
Street Outreach Program) provides grants to nonprofit private agencies 
for street-based outreach and education, including treatment, 
counseling, provision of information, and referrals for runaway, 
homeless, and street youth 21 years and younger who have been subjected 
to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse, prostitution or 
sexual exploitation.
    The Act also authorizes additional activities conducted through 
grants, including grants for research, evaluation, and service 
projects; grants for a national communications system to assist runaway 
and homeless youth in communicating with their families and service 
providers; and grants for technical assistance and training. This final 
rule covers all of these activities.
    The Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008 (hereafter referred to 
as ``the 2008 Act'') (Pub. L. 110-378) reauthorized the Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Act (hereafter referred to as ``the Act'') through 
federal fiscal year (FY) 2013, and made a number of changes to the Act, 
including a requirement for the establishment of performance standards. 
Specifically, section 386A of the 2008 Act, Performance Standards, 
requires that: (1) HHS issue rules that specify performance standards; 
(2) HHS consult with grantees and national nonprofit organizations 
concerned with youth homelessness in developing those standards; and 
(3) HHS integrate the performance standards into the HHS processes for 
grant making, monitoring, and evaluation for the three major grant 
programs under the Act.
    We have already implemented elements of these statutory mandates 
through funding opportunity announcements, technical assistance and 
training, and data collection. This final rule allows us to complete 
implementation of these legislative requirements. In addition, it will 
bring the program's codified regulations, last updated August 17, 2000 
(65 FR 50139), into conformity with existing statutory provisions, the 
administrative and managerial procedures we already use in accordance 
with the 2008 Act, and previous statutory changes.
    We intend to provide technical assistance to grantees that focuses 
on effective implementation of these performance standards, and to 
implement them as new budget periods begin, after promulgation of this 
final rule, rather than in the middle of an existing budget period.

[[Page 93031]]

III. Consultation and the Development of the Final Rule

    In keeping with the requirements of the 2008 Act, the Family and 
Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) sought input from grantees and other 
stakeholders prior to the development of the proposed rule. In April 
2009, FYSB conducted a consultation forum that brought together forty-
four individuals including subject experts, technical assistance 
providers, Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) grantees, federal staff, 
persons with extensive program monitoring experience, and national, 
regional and statewide youth servicing organization representatives.
    FYSB also obtained stakeholder perspectives and other information 
to inform the proposed rule in a number of additional ways. Since 2008, 
we have conducted national conferences bringing together all 
stakeholder groups and allowing for broad, informal exchanges of views. 
One such conference, the 2008 Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantee 
Conference was attended by 442 participants (including representatives 
from 252 grantee organizations) to share ideas, promising approaches, 
and best practices. Participants met in over 30 different workshops 
addressing both universal issues and specific programmatic needs of the 
three major RHY programs. Through the Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Training and Technical Assistance Centers, we have conducted an 
extensive training, technical assistance, and monitoring effort aimed 
not only at assisting grantees, but also at obtaining their feedback on 
operational issues. In tandem with these efforts, we conducted an in-
depth review of existing regulatory and sub-regulatory issuances and 
developed a comprehensive set of on-site review materials, in use since 
February 2009.
    These consultative processes provided valuable input that we used 
in formulating the performance and procedural standards. Importantly, 
the input we received emphasized that:
     The standards should promote an integrated, holistic 
approach to service delivery.
     The standards should be responsive to the complex social 
identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, 
gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, 
disability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs) 
of clients.
     The standards should serve as models for program quality 
and encourage programs to strive for excellence.
     The standards should achieve a balance between clarity and 
precision of regulatory intent and regulatory flexibility so that 
programs can be most responsive to local needs, settings, and 
circumstances.
     The standards should place emphasis on family-focused 
aspects of the program by strengthening links with local community 
providers, and helping families identify and address individualized 
goals.
     Standards of any kind--whether performance or procedural--
should facilitate rather than impede local flexibility in creating and 
operating effective programs that respond to local needs and 
priorities.
     Standards should not unnecessarily impose burdensome 
requirements that would divert local resources away from service.
    We retained these principles in developing the final rule. As we 
stated in the proposed rule, we believe that ``Regular measurement of 
progress toward specified outcomes is a vital component of any effort 
at managing-for-results.'' (Harry P. Hatry, Performance Measurement, 
Urban Institute Press, 2006). However, we recognized that effective, 
workable, and successful performance standards are extremely difficult 
to formulate and often need amending over time. Among the difficulties 
encountered are: (1) Some of the most important goals may be 
qualitative rather than quantitative; (2) near-term results may not 
correctly signal long-term effects; (3) measurement and appraisal may 
reduce the resources available for services; and (4) local 
circumstances may vary and achieving a lower absolute result in some 
settings may actually reflect superior performance over other settings 
because difficulties were greater. Despite these difficulties, we have 
increasingly incorporated performance measures and standards into the 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Program's ongoing operations to drive 
program improvement and help assure accountability. The standards and 
measures in this rule are appropriate, realistic, and consistent with 
the underlying complexity of the problems and processes involved in 
serving homeless and runaway youth.
    In the proposed rule preamble, we stated that we welcomed comments 
on whether our proposed standards struck the proper balance in meeting 
the objectives stated above, including measuring the most important 
program goals that are feasible to measure, preserving flexibility to 
grantees, and minimizing unnecessary burden. We asked for suggestions, 
particularly those supported by research or evaluative evidence, for 
improvements in the proposed standards. To assist in such comments, we 
provided specific regulatory text that commenters could review and 
suggest changes. As described later in this preamble, we received 
useful and detailed comments from individuals, providers, advocacy 
groups, government agencies, and others that have assisted us in making 
the decisions reflected in this final rule.
    As a result of the consultative and rulemaking process, this final 
rule codifies a targeted number of process and procedural requirements 
in order to minimize burden to grantees and to provide grantees 
flexibility in meeting their performance standards and in dealing with 
unique circumstances in their communities. This final rule reflects 
that there are many effective practices that are best handled through 
technical assistance and training rather than established as regulatory 
standards.
    We will work closely with our grantees in implementation of this 
final rule through our training and technical assistance activities to 
ensure they thoroughly understand the new standards and reporting 
requirements.

IV. Scope of the Final Rule

    This final rule establishes Runaway and Homeless Youth Program 
Performance Standards to help assess the quality and effectiveness of 
the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program nationally by providing 
indicators of successful outcomes for youth. The performance standards 
will be used to monitor individual grantee performance in achieving the 
purposes of the Act. Program projects will also be subject to other 
requirements including other applicable regulations (e.g., civil rights 
regulations), and those cited in funding opportunity announcements.
    This final rule also makes largely technical changes to existing 
program rules to conform to current law and to correct outdated 
provisions. Equally important, it revises our regulatory provisions on 
making awards to reflect the performance standards and to reflect 
onsite review and monitoring procedures that have been in place for a 
number of years.
    This final rule is effective 30 days after publication in the 
Federal Register; however, compliance with the new performance 
standards will not be required until the beginning of the next budget 
period (October 1) after the effective date of the final rule. This 
will allow existing grantees time to come into compliance with the new

[[Page 93032]]

standards, and provide time for us to assist grantees, and avoid 
confusion that may result from changing standards in the middle of 
budget periods. To assist grantees, we will provide them with guidance 
on best practices for implementing the standards. We will also conduct 
additional technical assistance to help grantee agencies understand and 
implement the new standards. We intend the final rule to complement our 
other efforts to strengthen Runaway and Homeless Youth grantee 
monitoring and to improve the overall program.

V. Summary of Public Comments

    We received 72 responsive and unique comments or sets of comments 
on the proposed rule, not including comments that were word-for-word 
identical. Multiple organizations and individuals endorsed several of 
these comment sets, and the total number of commenting individuals and 
organizations was about 300. About a dozen comments expressed overall 
support for the rule and made no specific suggestions for change.
    Without exception, the substantive comments reflect an 
understanding of the many problems affecting runaway and homeless 
youth, and of the many challenges that arise in administering programs 
for these youth. This understanding was evident in not only comments 
from advocacy groups and other organized commenters, but also the 
comments from individual service providers and from concerned 
individuals. We were able to accommodate many, but not all, of the 
recommendations in these comments. In some cases, the statute gives us 
little or no flexibility to accept commenter recommendations. In other 
cases, we agree that the comment raises an important issue, but not 
that the issue can or should be addressed through this regulation. Many 
recommendations in the comments address issues that we believe are best 
addressed either in implementation guidance, in funding opportunity 
announcements, or in individual decisions by service providers 
themselves. Other issues raised involved the respective roles of 
federal and state governments, or of other agencies or programs 
involved in the lives of these youth (e.g., housing programs, juvenile 
justice system). In our response to each issue raised by commenters, we 
address these factors insofar as they affect the decision in the final 
rule. These exceptions aside, we accepted many dozens of suggested 
changes in whole or in part, and believe that the comments were helpful 
in improving the final rule.

VI. Section-by-Section Discussion of the Regulatory Provisions, Issues, 
and Comments

    We received a number of comments that did not address a particular 
section of the proposed rule either directly or by inference. We 
address those first.
    Comment: One commenter said that the law needs to make room for 
faith-based programs.
    Response: We did not make any changes to the final rule in response 
to this comment because the existing ACF Policy on Grants to Faith-
Based Organizations already establishes ACF's commitment to partnering 
with faith-based organizations.
    More specifically, the ACF Policy on Grants to Faith-Based 
Organizations states the following: ``This administration is committed 
to providing the full range of legally permissible services to people 
who need them, and to doing so in a timely fashion and in a manner that 
respects the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of those we 
serve. At the same time, we also are committed to finding ways for 
organizations to partner with us even if they object to providing 
specific services on religious grounds.'' The full policy can be found 
here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/acf-policy-on-grants-to-faith-based-organizations.
    Comment: One commenter pointed out that our background preamble 
discussion of transitional housing being a ``long-term environment,'' 
in light of the 21-month period for which such housing can be provided 
in the Transitional Living Program as compared to the 21-day period 
allowed in the Basic Center Program, is not seen as a long-term 
solution in housing programs administered by HUD.
    Response: We agree that the Transitional Living Program services 
are not permanent housing solutions, or even long-term when compared to 
the housing options that HUD offers. As indicated throughout the 
proposed and final rules, one of the major priorities of the RHY 
Program is, whenever reasonably and safely possible, to return youth to 
their family homes for support until they can find their own longer-
term solutions, or, when reunification is not possible, to assist youth 
in establishing more permanent arrangements. Within the context of the 
Continuum of Care Program, as defined by HUD, and its housing and 
service structure, TLP is considered transitional housing and BCP is 
considered emergency shelter. Neither is considered to be a permanent 
placement. We have therefore deleted references to ``long-term'' 
transitional living services throughout this rule.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we add a requirement that youth 
served by these programs be actively involved in developing these 
services, through meaningful leadership positions and involvement in 
policy development and evaluation. Research supporting this position 
was provided.
    Response: The idea is worth future consideration. We think it would 
likely present concerns if established as a regulatory requirement at 
this point in time, in part because it was not presented as a proposal 
for the public, including stakeholders, to comment on.

Subpart A. Definition of Terms

    The significant terms in Sec.  1351.1 reflect current statutory 
terminology and operating practice. We proposed to revise a number of 
existing definitions, to add a number of definitions, to delete a few 
definitions that we do not believe are useful or necessary, and to 
change the format of the definitions. We requested comment on each new 
or revised definition. The additions and revisions are intended to 
reflect both recent changes to the statute and important practices in 
the administration of the program. The definitions section applies to 
all grants under the Act. Each individual definition only applies where 
it is applicable to each type of grant. We received comments on many, 
but not all, of the definitions.
    We are leaving unchanged and as proposed the definitions on which 
we received no comments. These include the following terms: Act, 
client, drop-in center, drug abuse education and prevention services, 
runaway and homeless youth project, short-term training, state, 
supervised apartments, and technical assistance.
Act
    We received no comments on this definition and have retained it in 
this final rule.
Aftercare
    We proposed to revise the definition of Aftercare to read: 
`Aftercare means additional services provided beyond the period of 
residential stay that offer continuity and supportive follow-up to 
youth served by the program.'
    Comment: We received one comment on this definition. That comment 
suggested that we not limit this term to residential care, pointing out 
that aftercare could apply to non-residential services. The commenter 
also suggested adding a reference to the family.

[[Page 93033]]

    Response: The only two programs affected by this regulation that 
would have an aftercare component are residential programs (BCP and 
TLP), so it is not appropriate to expand the aftercare definition to 
programs that are not residential. Regarding the request to add 
references to families receiving aftercare services, our statutory 
mission under Sec.  312(b)(5) of the Act includes a provision to 
``develop an adequate plan for providing counseling and aftercare 
services to such youth, [and] for encouraging the involvement of their 
parents or legal guardians in counseling . . . '' We interpret the 
statute as intending the aftercare provision to be provided for youth 
specifically but we do encourage parental involvement. Therefore, we 
have retained the proposed rule language in this final rule.
Area
    We proposed to delete the existing regulatory definition of 
``area'' in the NPRM because a precise definition is not required for 
the purposes of the program. Receiving no comments, we have deleted it 
in this final rule.
Background Check
    We received a dozen unique comments on this definition and/or on 
the related requirement in proposed Sec.  1351.20(l), which is numbered 
Sec.  1351.23(j) in this final rule, (requirements that apply to all 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Program local services grants) that all 
grantees ``shall conduct complete background checks on all employees 
and volunteers.'' These comments represent in total over a hundred 
individuals and organizations. Most of the comments argued that the 
definition and/or requirement as worded were too broad and would be 
both expensive, time consuming (weeks for responses from some states), 
and disruptive of program operations.
    Comments: Several comments objected to making this a national 
background check, rather than one focused on state records. These 
comments argued that this would be both burdensome and time consuming. 
One commenter suggested adding consultants as individuals who should be 
subject to background checks.
    Several commenters objected to subjecting volunteers to the same 
check as employees (e.g., checking employment records and driving 
records for volunteers). Other commenters felt that the proposed 
definition was ambiguous as to what was required for volunteers' 
background checks. In particular, several commenters pointed out that 
many volunteers may be one-time attendees at particular events, that 
some staff and volunteers may not work directly with youth, and that 
some volunteers may not have unsupervised contact with youth; these 
commenters recommended exemptions in cases such as these. As examples, 
volunteers might be used to cook hot meals on holidays, might be guest 
speakers, or might visit one time as a member of a community group.
    Several commenters asked whether the driving record check would 
apply only to those who transport youth. One commenter pointed out that 
some kinds of criminal backgrounds do not pose serious risk of harm to 
the grantee or clients, and asked for clarification that employment of 
such persons (who might have committed minor crimes as youth) not be 
prohibited. Several commenters noted that there was ambiguity as to 
what kind of national check might be required and several pointed out 
that at least one state performed an out-of-state check only for states 
in which the person has recently lived.
    Response: In order to provide clarity, we have revised the final 
rule to address many of the above comments. We agree that the proposed 
rule needed more clarity regarding what kinds of background checks are 
required. As a result, we have revised the final rule at Sec.  
1351.23(j) to clarify that grantees shall conduct a background check on 
all employees, contractors, volunteers, and consultants who have 
regular and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the 
grantee, and on all adults who reside in or operate host homes.
    We do not agree with the comments that request background checks 
only include state records. Both state and national records are 
necessary for youth safety. However, we did revise the final rule to 
provide clarity on which background checks are required.
    We did not address background check fees in this rule. We 
understand programs may bear costs associated with background checks 
and we encourage programs to use the resources available to them and 
consider ways to allocate funds differently to cover these costs.
    In the interest of youth safety and to be mindful that all parties 
have an obligation to exercise due diligence, our proposed definition 
and related requirements for background checks have been revised in the 
final rule. We have revised the definition of background check for 
employees, consultants, contractors, and employment applicants to 
include: State or tribal criminal history records (including 
fingerprint checks); Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history 
records including fingerprint checks, (to the extent FSYB determines 
this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding 
Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award); a 
child abuse and neglect registry check (to the extent FSYB determines 
this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding 
Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award); and 
a sex offender registries check.
    The plans, procedures, and standards must identify background check 
findings that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for 
employment to provide services for which assistance is made available 
in accordance with this part. To further protect children's safety, in 
Sec.  1351.20(l), which is numbered Sec.  1351.23(j) in this final 
rule, we also require that programs document the justification for any 
hire where an arrest, pending criminal charge, or conviction is 
present.
Budget Period
    In the NPRM, we proposed defining the term Budget Period as 
``Budget period means the interval of time into which a multi-year 
period of assistance (project period) is divided for budgetary and 
funding purposes. '' We received no comments on this definition. 
However, this definition was used only in proposed Sec.  1351.34, 
which, as described below, has been removed from this final rule. 
Therefore, we are also removing this definition from the final rule.
Case Management
    Case management is a central concept in serving client youth, and 
we proposed to add a definition to read: Case management means 
assessing the needs of the client and, as appropriate, arranging, 
coordinating, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for a package of 
services to meet the specific needs of the client.
    Comment: We received one comment on this definition, asking that we 
add the phrase ``identification of needs.''
    Response: In the interest of clarity we have made the requested 
change, and have also included new language making clear that 
identifying the needs of a client should be done in consultation with 
the client.
Client
    We did not receive any comments on this definition and therefore 
have retained the proposed definition in the final rule.

[[Page 93034]]

Congregate Care
    We proposed congregate care to read: Congregate care means a 
shelter type that combines living quarters and restroom facilities with 
centralized dining services, shared living spaces, and access to social 
and recreational activities.
    Comments: We received two comments on the definition of congregate 
care suggesting that it too closely aligned with the definition of 
family home.
    Response: We agree with the comments and have adjusted the 
definition to add the qualification that a congregate care shelter is 
not a family home.
Contact
    Contacting homeless youth is a core function of the entire program, 
and the primary function of the Street Outreach Program. We proposed to 
define Contact to read: Contact means the engagement between Street 
Outreach Program staff and homeless youth in need of services that 
could reasonably lead to shelter or significant harm reduction. Closely 
related to this definition, and dependent on this definition, is Sec.  
1351.32, where we proposed as a performance measure for the Street 
Outreach Program the total number of contacts made by the project, 
giving the projects credit for repeatedly reaching youth.
    Comment: We received twelve comments on, either, the definition of 
contact, the performance measure, or both. Some comments represented 
multiple individuals and organizations, about 200 in total. Several of 
these comments argued that the definition should include explicit 
references to locations frequented by homeless youth. Most argued it 
should be broadened to include street youth at risk of homelessness or 
runaway status, not just those already in those situations, pointing 
out that the statute uses the term ``at risk'' in describing the 
purpose of the Street Outreach Program.
    Response: We appreciate these comments and have made most of the 
suggested changes. Although the multiple settings in which youth might 
be contacted are implicit in the proposed definition, we agree that it 
adds clarity to list some of them. We agree that ``at risk'' youth 
should count as contacts and are adding this to the definition. 
Accordingly, we have revised the definition to say that Contact 
includes ``youth who are at risk of homelessness or runaway status or 
homeless youth in need of services that could reasonably lead to 
shelter or significant harm reduction'' and have added a sentence 
saying, ``[t]his contact may occur on the streets, at a drop-in center, 
or at other locations known to be frequented by homeless, runaway, or 
street youth.''
Core Competencies of Youth Worker
    Core competencies are essential in providing services that lead to 
improved outcomes for clients. We proposed to add a definition for core 
competencies of youth worker to read: Core competencies of youth worker 
means the ability to demonstrate skills in six domain areas: (1) 
Professionalism (including, but not limited to, consistent and reliable 
job performance, awareness and use of professional ethics to guide 
practice), (2) applied positive youth development approach (including, 
but not limited to, skills to develop a positive youth development plan 
and identifying the client's strengths in order to best apply a 
positive youth development framework), (3) cultural and human diversity 
(including, but not limited to, gaining knowledge and skills to meet 
the needs of clients of a different race, ethnicity, nationality, 
religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation), 
(4) applied human development (including, but not limited to, 
understanding the needs of those at risk and with special needs), (5) 
relationship and communication (including, but not limited to, working 
with clients in a collaborative manner), and (6) developmental practice 
methods (including, but not limited to, utilizing methods focused on 
genuine relationships, health and safety, intervention planning).
    Comment: We received six unique comments on the definition of core 
competencies of youth workers. One commenter expressed the hope that 
items number (3) and (4) mean to address and include lesbian, gay, 
bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Another 
commenter recommended that item number (6) add the importance of 
working within an ``ecological framework'' that understands family and 
community and the role of the worker and client within that framework. 
Two commenters expressed the hope that youth workers will progress 
toward becoming certified by either state or national certifying 
bodies, and are guided in their professional development by competency 
domains and manuals developed by a national certifying body. One 
commenter said that all staff need not be trained in all competencies.
    Response: We appreciate these comments and have made no changes in 
the final rule. The details of skills development among youth workers 
within the domain areas we identify will depend on education, training, 
and on-the-job experience, much of which will be unique to individual 
workers and their work assignments. We expect that such education and 
training will often utilize the perspectives and materials mentioned in 
the comments, but see no reason to add such detail in a codified rule. 
Regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) 
youth, we do intend the core competencies of youth workers to address 
and include the needs of these youth, and believe that this is clear in 
the standards as written. As for the comment on not all staff needing 
training in all competencies, we agree. We address this in the final 
text of Sec.  1351.23. We expect youth workers to complete core 
competency training in order to effectively fulfill their job 
responsibilities working with runaway and homeless youth. We do not 
expect that every staff person to be trained in core competencies, but 
all staff members who work directly with youth should receive training 
sufficient to meet the stated core-competencies of youth workers.
Counseling Services
    We proposed to revise the definition of counseling services to 
include runaway prevention and intervention related services as 
follows: Counseling services means the provision of guidance, support, 
referrals for services including, but not limited to, health services, 
and advice to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families, 
as well as to youth and families when a young person is at risk of 
running away. These services are designed to alleviate the problems 
that have put a youth at risk of running away or contributed to his or 
her running away or being homeless. We received six unique comments on 
our proposed revision, several of them endorsed by many individuals or 
organizations.
    Comment: One commenter asked why the first sentence of the 
definition didn't directly say homeless.
    Response: We think that the definition as worded, which includes 
the phrase ``runaway or otherwise homeless youth'', clearly includes 
homeless youth, and have not made this change.
    Comment: One commenter said that counseling services should 
explicitly include therapeutic services, including trauma-informed 
psychotherapy. Relatedly, two other comments recommended removing the 
word ``advice'' and replacing it with ``clinical

[[Page 93035]]

services'' to include mental health counseling and psychotherapy.
    Response: We do not agree with the comments suggesting that we 
require therapeutic or clinical mental health care services in place of 
``advice.'' The Act does not authorize grantees to provide health care 
services directly and our grants do not include funding for 
professional health care providers. Our grantees' counseling services 
are intended to provide both advice and referrals when mental health 
services are needed (see our following discussion of health care 
services). Accordingly, we have not made this change.
    Comment: Two commenters said that many youth were ``forced out'' of 
family homes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, 
that a term such as ``where appropriate and in the best interest of 
youth'' should condition the language concerning advice and counseling 
for families, and that the word ``families'' should include 
``individuals identified by such youth as family'' (to include legally 
unrelated individuals with whom youth have ``strong, supportive 
relationships''). These comments pointed out that parental abandonment 
or rejection is often the cause of runaway or homeless status among 
LGBTQ youth.
    Response: We agree with the commenters who focused on the point 
that youth are often ``forced out'' of family homes. As to advice and 
counseling, the Act expresses a strong preference for reuniting youth 
and their families, and therefore, we expect grantees to work towards 
reunification as appropriate and safe for youth. Sometimes it will be 
impossible to locate families; the youth or family or both may refuse 
counseling; or some other impediment to reunification may arise. 
Grantees are not expected to achieve the impossible. Taking into 
consideration the statute and this comment, we have added language that 
counseling should be provided ``as appropriate.'' We have also added 
the phrase ``in consultation with clients'' to emphasize that these 
services and advice must reflect the unique situation that faces each 
particular youth.
    Furthermore, based on a comment received urging ACF to specifically 
prohibit conversion therapy in Sec.  1351.19 of the proposed rule we 
are adding a sentence to the definition of ``counseling services'' to 
specifically exclude conversion therapy and referrals to conversion 
therapy by adding language at the end of the definition that says 
``[a]ny treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change 
someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is 
prohibited.'' This change is described further in the comments to Sec.  
1351.19 of the proposed rule in this preamble.
Demonstrably Frequented by or Reachable
    We proposed to delete the existing regulatory definition of 
``Demonstrably frequented by or reachable''. The definition is 
unnecessary. No commenters raised any concern over this change and this 
final rule deletes it.
Drop-In Center
    We received no comments on the proposed definition and have left it 
unchanged in the regulatory text.
Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Services
    Drug abuse education and prevention services are important, and are 
defined under that term in the Act (section 387(1)). We proposed to 
broaden the substance of the statutory definition in regulatory text to 
read: `Drug abuse education and prevention services means services to 
prevent or reduce drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless 
youth, and may include (1) individual, family, group, and peer 
counseling; (2) drop-in services; (3) assistance to runaway and 
homeless youth in rural areas (including the development of community 
support groups); (4) information and training relating to drug and/or 
alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth to individuals involved in 
providing services to such youth; and (5) activities to improve the 
availability of local drug and/or alcohol abuse prevention services to 
runaway and homeless youth.' Our reasons for the broadening of this 
definition are two-fold. First, we note that the RHY statute explicitly 
contemplates services to address alcohol abuse in section 387(5). 
Second, the inclusion of alcohol abuse in addition to drug abuse is 
standard practice in the substance abuse field as is demonstrated in 
the definition used by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
Administration: `substance abuse means the abuse of alcohol or other 
drugs.' We received no comments on this definition and it is retained 
as proposed.
Health Care Services
    In the proposed rule, the definition of health care services read: 
`Health care services means physical, mental, behavioral and dental 
health services and, in the case of Maternity Group Homes mean those 
provided to the child of the youth; and where applicable and allowable 
within a program, family or household members of the youth shall 
receive information on appropriate health related services.'
    Comment: We received four unique comments on the proposed 
definition, some of these representing multiple individuals and 
organizations. Three comments pointed out that the language as drafted 
did not clearly cover both youth and any children of these youth. A 
fourth comment generally praised the proposed definition, but raised 
two issues, one concerning the need for longer-term treatment, and one 
concerning the confidentiality of private health information that might 
be provided to family members.
    Response: We have revised the definition to state more clearly that 
health care is not only for the client youth, but also in some cases 
for the child of the youth. We agree that longer-term treatment and 
privacy of medical information are important issues. We do not believe, 
however, that they should be addressed in a definition and respond to 
this comment in our discussion of requirements concerning referral 
services and information confidentiality. Additionally, based on a 
comment received in Sec.  1351.19 of the proposed rule to specifically 
prohibit conversion therapy, we are adding a sentence to the definition 
of ``health care services'' in Sec.  1351.1 to specifically exclude 
conversion therapy and referrals to conversion therapy by adding 
language at the end of the definition that says ``[a]ny treatment or 
referral to treatment that aims to change someone's sexual orientation, 
gender identity, or gender expression is prohibited.''
Home-Based Services
    We proposed to follow the substance of the statutory definition 
(section 387(2)) of home-based services to read as follows: Home-based 
services means services provided to youth and their families for the 
purpose of preventing such youth from running away or otherwise 
becoming separated from their families and assisting runaway youth to 
return to their families. It includes services that are provided in the 
residences of families (to the extent practicable), including intensive 
individual and family counseling and training related to life skills 
and parenting.
    Comment: We received three unique comments on the proposed 
definition of home-based services, representing in total about 50 
individuals and organizations. One commenter suggested that we retitle 
this definition to refer to ``family support and reunifications 
services'' rather than ``home-based'' services, to reflect the

[[Page 93036]]

clear purpose of the services as defined. This commenter also 
recommended adding a definition for supportive housing to capture the 
need for in-home services when the youth does not live with his or her 
family. The other commenters said that the definition should 
specifically allow for the case where family reunification is not in 
the best interest of the youth.
    Response: We have not changed the definition. The term ``home-
based'' is the statutory term used in the Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Act and we see no compelling reason to depart from the terminology of 
the statute. The commenters are correct that the focus is on family 
reunification, but we think ``home-based'' is well understood to mean 
services provided in the home of the youth's family. Underlying both 
sets of comments is the point that there will be cases where family 
reunification is not in the best interest of the youth. We agree with 
this point. However, nothing in this definition (or elsewhere in the 
rule) prevents or inhibits either youth or their service providers from 
considering that question and reaching a decision that home-based 
services are not possible or appropriate in a particular case, even 
though they are the preferred outcome in the great majority of cases. 
We deal further with the issue of ``best interest of the youth'' in our 
discussion of additional requirements that apply to all local services 
grants.
Homeless Youth
    Homeless youth is an essential definition because it identifies 
individuals eligible to be served under the Act. We proposed to revise 
the previous definition to read as follows, paraphrasing the Act 
(section 387(3)): `Homeless youth means an individual who cannot live 
safely with a parent, guardian or relative, and who has no other safe 
alternative living arrangement. For purposes of Basic Center Program 
eligibility, a homeless youth must be less than 18 years of age (or 
higher if allowed by a state or local law or regulation that applies to 
licensure requirements for child- or youth-serving facilities). For 
purposes of Transitional Living Program eligibility, a homeless youth 
cannot be less than 16 years of age and must be less than 22 years of 
age (unless the individual commenced his or her stay before age 22, and 
the maximum service period has not ended).'
    Comment: We received six unique comments on this definition, one 
endorsed by many individuals and organizations, focusing on a number of 
specific issues. One commenter asked if a youth could stay in the Basic 
Center program if an individual enrolled before age 18 and turned 18 
while in the programs, or whether that meant that the newly 18 year old 
individual would become his or her own legal guardian. Another asked 
whether the Basic Center age could be raised to 19. Two commenters 
asked whether the age for Transitional Living could be raised, 
mentioning 24, 24\1/2\, or 25 as options. One commenter recommended 
that the term ``guardian'' be replaced by ``legal guardian.'' One 
commenter requested clarification that ``safety'' be interpreted 
broadly to include not only safety from physical harm, but also from 
emotional and mental harm. Another comment noted conflicts between 
state laws and federal policies which include different ages for 
services. The commenter also noted that the terms ``cannot live 
safely'' and ``no other safe alternative'' are not included in some 
state definitions but are included in the federal definition of youth 
homelessness.
    Response: These age limits and the restrictions related to safe 
environments are taken from the federal statute's definition of 
homeless youth in section 387(3) of the Act. We agree that there are 
circumstances where these strict limitations may inhibit service 
provision, but note that nothing prevents a state government, a local 
government, or a private organization from funding services directly 
for older youth or those who otherwise do not qualify under federal 
law. Regarding the Basic Center program age limits, section 
387(3)(A)(i) says in the case of a youth seeking shelter in a center 
under the Basic Center program, a homeless youth is ``less than 18 
years of age or is less than a higher maximum age if the State where 
the center is located has an applicable State or local law (including a 
regulation) that permits such higher maximum age in compliance with 
licensure requirements for child- and youth-serving facilities.'' For 
the Transitional Living Program, section 387(3)(A)(ii) says youth who 
can be served in the program must be not less than 16 years of age and 
either (I) less than 22 years of age; or (II) not less than 22 years of 
age, as the expiration of the maximum period of stay permitted if such 
individual commences such stay before reaching 22 years of age.
    The word ``guardian'' normally means an officially appointed legal 
guardian, but for consistency with other text we have added the word 
``legal'' to our definition. We agree with the comment that ``safe'' 
and ``safely'' encompass avoiding mental (including emotional) and 
physical harm. We further note that Runaway and Homeless Youth projects 
must also serve youth at risk of running away or becoming homeless, 
which is particularly important when either physical or mental abuse or 
family instability is involved. Finally, while there are some instances 
in which state definitions of ``youth homelessness'' differ from 
federal law, the federal statutory language which governs RHY programs 
is very specific and cannot be amended without action from Congress. 
This definition aligns with the existing statutory language in the Act.
Host Family Home
    We proposed host family home to read: Host family home means a 
family or single adult home that provides shelter to a homeless youth.
    Comment: We received four unique comments on this definition, with 
over 100 individuals and organizations endorsing one set of comments. 
Two comments said that our definitions of congregate care and host 
family home were essentially identical. A third comment said that in at 
least one state what we called a host family home would be allowed to 
serve two homeless youth, not merely a single youth. The fourth comment 
asked why the word family was used rather than host, and whether a home 
could be a family home if only one adult was present.
    Response: While we agree that the definitions of `congregate care' 
and `host family home contain similar elements, we do not agree that 
our definitions are essentially identical. A host family home implies 
the presence of a person or family who rents or owns the building or 
apartment and uses it as its own domicile, and takes in or ``hosts'' 
one or possibly two homeless youth who will live with the person or 
family. If no homeless youth are present, it is still that person's or 
family's domicile. For clarity, we have revised the definition to 
include that a host family home means a home or domicile. A family 
retains discretion as to whether it hosts a particular youth or any 
youth. In contrast, a congregate care shelter need not be and 
ordinarily would not be the domicile of a family, would ordinarily 
serve a larger number of homeless youth, would have essentially all 
spaces shared, and would have organized social and recreational 
activities. Congregate care facilities are also normally licensed as 
shelters, whereas a family host home may be able to host unrelated 
individuals without a license. As to calling the home by that term, we 
were following the statutory terminology. As our definition states, a 
family may be a single adult. We do agree that there are circumstances 
where a family might be willing and able to host more than one youth 
(for example,

[[Page 93037]]

multiple siblings), and have revised the definition to allow for that 
option.
Intake
    Intake services are essential functions under the Act. We proposed 
to define intake to read: `Intake means a process for gathering 
information to assess eligibility and the services required to meet the 
immediate needs of the client.'
    Comment: We received three comments on the definition of intake, 
One commenter recommended that the intake definition include a clause 
stating that ``intake may occur in the context of a community-level 
coordinated entry or assessment system,'' with the justification that 
HUD has Continuum of Care regulations that can serve an important 
intake role. Another comment made the same point about the HUD process 
without recommending specific language. One commenter suggested that it 
would be beneficial for the program if ACF encouraged grantees to 
participate in broader planning processes within Continuum of Care 
areas.
    Response: We agree that all the comments raise valid concerns. We 
have added to the intake definition: `The intake process may be 
operated independently but grantees should, at minimum, ensure they are 
working with their local Continuum of Care to ensure that referrals are 
coordinated and youth have access to all of the community's resources, 
given the major role that HUD-funded programs perform in serving 
homeless individuals of all ages. We have not, however, limited it to 
any particular system or process, since states or communities need 
flexibility to experiment or supplement. We did not include a planning 
and coordination requirement in the definition, as it more 
appropriately belongs in our requirements. We proposed a requirement 
for participating in training and technical assistance related to 
coordinated services in local networks in proposed Sec.  1351.20(a), 
which applies to all local service grants, and are revising it in this 
final rule to include participation in coordinated networks (one of 
which would be Continuum of Care areas).
Juvenile Justice System
    Extremely important in this program are interfaces between Runaway 
and Homeless Youth projects and the juvenile justice system. We 
received no comments on our proposed language but have recognized that 
only the term ``juvenile justice system'' is referenced in the Act and 
in other places in regulatory text. For this reason, we have deleted 
the words ``institutions, or authorities'' from the defined term.
``Law Enforcement Structure'' and ``A Locality''
    In the proposed rule, we stated that ``law enforcement structure'' 
and ``a locality'' are definitions that are unnecessary in these 
regulations and accordingly we proposed to delete them. We received no 
comments on these proposals, and the final rule deletes these 
definitions.
Maternity Group Home
    For runaway and homeless youth who are pregnant or who have 
children, congregate or scattered-site maternity-related services are 
essential. Accordingly, we proposed: `Maternity group home means a 
community-based, adult-supervised transitional living arrangement where 
client oversight is provided on site or on-call 24 hours a day and that 
provides pregnant or parenting youth and their children with a 
supportive environment in which to learn parenting skills, including 
child development, family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other 
skills to promote their long-term economic independence and ensure the 
well-being of their children.'
    Comment: We received one comment. The commenter asked what was 
meant by ``transitional'' and what justification there would be for 
placement into other settings such as individual apartments if more 
time were needed to assess youth functioning.
    Response: For the purposes of the RHY Maternity Group Home program, 
``transitional'' simply means that these services are temporary and 
limited either by age and/or by function. For example, maternity group 
homes may be specifically tailored to serve pregnant or parenting youth 
who are transitioning to self-sufficiency. The basic purpose of a 
maternity group home is to prepare youth for a more permanent home, and 
the duties of a group home include assessing readiness for that change. 
The final rule leaves this definition unchanged.
Outreach
    We proposed to add a definition for outreach to read as follows: 
`Outreach means finding runaway, homeless, and street youth, or youth 
at risk of becoming runaway or homeless, who might not use services due 
to lack of awareness or active avoidance, providing information to them 
about services and benefits, and encouraging the use of appropriate 
services.' Outreach includes low-barrier services such as food packs 
and personal hygiene packs.
    Comment: We received two comments on this definition. One commenter 
asked if a drop-in center could perform properly, and be funded, 
without performing a street outreach function. The other commenter 
suggested that the definition include, as one outreach service purpose, 
providing information about housing options and family reunification.
    Response: We think that both commenters raise good points but the 
first does not distinguish between the definition of a function and the 
obligations of grantees. Our definitions are not intended to prescribe 
the obligations of grantees, but simply to describe the function or 
service to reduce ambiguity. Regarding the first comment, while many 
grantees may perform both drop-in center and outreach functions, our 
rules do not require that all grantees perform both functions. These 
are distinct services. We do not prohibit outreach providers from 
giving additional information, beyond that which is part of the core 
function. Regarding the second comment, our standards for Street 
Outreach Program grantees require them to provide services that are 
designed to assist clients in leaving the streets, which may include 
housing or family reunification (see Sec.  1351.27 of the final rule) 
as well as to perform outreach services. Accordingly, we have not 
changed the definition of outreach in the final rule.
Risk and Protective Factors
    We include risk and protective factors under the list of technical 
assistance or short-term training that may be determined as necessary 
by HHS as a condition of funding. Therefore, we proposed a definition 
of risk and protective factors to read: `Risk and protective factors 
mean those factors that are measureable characteristics of a youth that 
can occur at multiple levels, including biological, psychological, 
family, community, and cultural levels, that precede and are associated 
with an outcome. Risk factors are associated with higher likelihood of 
problematic outcomes, and protective factors are associated with lower 
likelihood of problematic outcomes. While we received no comments on 
this change, it was deemed appropriate to frame protective factors as 
positive impact outcomes and so we have made minor wording changes to 
reflect that protective factors are associated with a higher likelihood 
of positive outcomes. We made other minor changes in order to mirror 
the definition used across the

[[Page 93038]]

federal government and on the Youth.gov Web site.
Runaway Youth
    Another core statutory term is runaway youth. We proposed to update 
the existing definition to reflect the Act (section 387(4)) and to 
read: Runaway youth means an individual under 18 years of age who 
absents himself or herself from home or a place of legal residence 
without the permission of a parent or legal guardian.
    Comment: We received one comment on the proposed definition. This 
comment, representing the views of many individuals and organizations, 
supported our proposed definition but asked whether it limited the 
ability of grantees to serve youth who leave their place of legal 
residence at the behest of a parent or legal guardian.
    Response: We appreciate the importance of this question, since it 
is vital that the program serve youth who are forced or coerced to 
leave their homes. The answer, however, is not to change the definition 
of runaway youth, but to recognize that the program serves both runaway 
and homeless youth, and that the latter group includes those who have 
lost their family home, such as through physical or verbal pressure 
from parents or guardians. Therefore, we have left this definition 
unchanged in this final rule.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Project
    We received no comments on the proposed definition and it is 
unchanged in the final rule.
Safe and Appropriate Exits
    We proposed to add a definition of Safe and Appropriate Settings 
When Exiting Basic Center Program Services or Transitional Living 
Program Services. The proposed definition said that Safe and 
Appropriate Settings When Exiting Basic Center Program Services or 
Transitional Living Program Services means settings that reflect 
achievement of the intended purposes of the Basic Center and 
Transitional Living Programs as outlined in section 382(a) of the Act. 
Safe and appropriate settings when exiting Basic Center Program 
Services or Transitional Living Program Services are not exits:
     To another shelter;
     to the street;
     to a private residence, other than a youth who is staying 
stably with family, if the youth is not paying rent;
     to another residential program if the youth is not paying 
rent or if the youth's transition to the other residential program was 
unplanned;
     to a correctional institute or detention center if the 
youth became involved in activities that lead to this exit after 
entering the program;
     to an unspecified other living situation; or
     to a living situation that is not known.
    By defining ``Safe and Appropriate Settings when exiting Basic 
Center Program services or Transitional Living Program services,'' our 
intent was to move the field beyond just finding a place for the youth 
to stay. However, as discussed in the following responses to the 
several dozen comments we received, all requesting clarifications or 
changes to the proposed definition, we have made significant changes to 
the definition in the final rule. Almost all commenters found the 
proposed limitations on safe and appropriate settings to be 
inconsistent with commonly used best practices and some desirable 
outcomes. Some of these commenters also raised concerns about achieving 
performance standards with such restrictions in the definition.
    Comment: We received many unique comments arguing that in some 
situations a youth may need to go to another shelter, including 
shelters that provide for special needs. Most of these commenters 
pointed out that a minor is allowed to stay in a Basic Center for 21 
days, and if not unified with this family or placed in Foster Care in 
that period of time might appropriately go to a Transitional Living 
Program, which provides services up to 21 months. Also, one commenter 
pointed out 21 days is often not enough time to resolve issues and 
transition to a stable family arrangement.
    Response: We agree. Indeed, one of the appropriate exits from the 
Basic Shelter Program is to the Transitional Living Program. We have 
revised the final rule to delete ``another shelter'' from the list of 
unsafe exits.
    Comment: Many unique comments addressed the clause concerning exit 
to a private residence. Most of these pointed out that the private 
residence of a friend might not involve rent payment and might be an 
appropriate exit, that in most cases minors will not be able to sign a 
lease and pay rent, and that some programs such as Job Corps, Foster 
Care, and Transitional Living do not charge rent. Several commenters 
pointed out subsidized housing sometimes involves rent-free 
accommodation until the renter has income. These commenters recommended 
that we delete this prohibition on the use of free rental housing. Some 
commenters also recommended that we redefine family to include 
unrelated individuals thought of as family by the youth.
    Response: We agree that payment of rent is not a useful demarcation 
and have modified the definition accordingly, both as it applies to 
private residences and other residential programs. We also agree that 
there are cases where stays with an adult relative who is not a member 
of the immediate family (e.g., grandparent, aunt, or uncle), with an 
adult family friend, or with an adult friend, would be appropriate 
exits. Accordingly, we have modified the clause on private residences 
to allow for such situations, where they involve a stable arrangement. 
To address the recommendations about unrelated individuals, we revised 
the rule to allow for placement with unrelated individuals in some 
cases.
    Comment: Several commenters addressed other possible safe exits 
that were not clearly addressed under the clauses on either private 
housing or other residential programs. The commenters who raised the 
issue about supportive housing (rent free or not rent-free) also 
implicitly made the point that some older homeless youth will be placed 
into their own housing units, without any other resident. One commenter 
asserted that the proposed clause concerning other residential programs 
did not clearly include Child Welfare Services.
    Response: We agree that the pertinent clauses under the definition 
as proposed were ambiguous as to supportive housing as well as Foster 
Care or other Child Welfare Services. We have revised the clause on 
other residential programs to more clearly include such programs. In 
particular, our recognition of planned exits to other residential 
programs as being safe is intended to cover exits to permanent housing 
and to permanent supportive housing, as well as to foster home 
placement.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that we drop from the list 
of unsafe exits the case where a youth's activities after entering the 
program lead to placement in a correctional institute or detention 
center. The commenters argued that clearing up prior warrants might 
lead to jail time, or that this could create barriers to serving youth 
with many prior law enforcement encounters, such as human trafficked 
youth. One commenter was concerned that it could count against 
discharge rates for shelter providers.
    Response: We do not agree that clearing up warrants that apply to 
actions before the youth entered the program come within this 
definition. The proposed definition was worded to

[[Page 93039]]

exclude such actions. We do not believe distinguishing prior and new 
law enforcement encounters and issues will be difficult for grantees or 
will create barriers. Within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, we 
are committed to building capacity amongst RHY providers to identify 
and assist trafficking victims through training and funding opportunity 
announcements. We are also running a demonstration program initiative 
with our RHY and family violence program to expand outreach to service 
providers that may have contact with domestic victims of human 
trafficking. Since many programs for human trafficking victims are run 
by law enforcement, we have slightly refined our definition of exits 
that are not safe and appropriate.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we exempt an exit to a living 
situation that is not known by short stay residents who leave the 
program after fewer than seven days of residence.
    Response: We agree that transitory stays are a problem. 
Nonetheless, those that result in exits to unknown destinations must be 
characterized as unsuccessful. We have not accepted the proposed 
change.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we delete ``unplanned'' exits to 
another residential program from the list of unsafe exits.
    Response: We agree that there are cases in which the needs 
assessment, counseling, and guidance provided by the program will not 
have identified some particular option that would be beneficial. 
Indeed, the client himself may find that option, or learn of it from 
other sources to which he had been referred. We have changed the 
language to refer to ``inconsistent with the youth's needs.''
    Comment: We received several comments arguing that it would be 
better to define safe and appropriate exits in terms of those that are 
safe rather than those that are not, or alternatively as those that are 
both. One listing of safe exits included independent living, 
residential apprenticeships, higher education, family, mental health or 
substance abuse program, military service, or any other planned 
residential program.
    Response: We agree that defining safe and appropriate exits in 
terms of those that are safe and are not safe is a good approach and 
have changed this in the final regulatory text. We have crafted 
language in an effort to demonstrate what safe and appropriate exits 
generally look like and have incorporated some of the concepts 
suggested so that a safe and appropriate exit will include: (1) To the 
private residence of a parent, guardian, another adult relative, or 
adult family friend that has the youth's best interest in mind and can 
provide a stable arrangement; (2) to another residential program if the 
youth's transition to the other residential program is consistent with 
the youth's needs; or (3) to independent living if that is consistent 
with the youth's needs and abilities. In addition, we note that in 
comments received, commenters referred to ``safe and appropriate 
exits'' instead of the longer title proposed that read ``safe and 
appropriate settings when exiting Basic Center Program services or 
Transitional Living Program services.'' For this reason, we have 
shortened the definition to only refer to ``safe and appropriate 
exits'' in this final rule.
Service Plan or Treatment Plan
    We also proposed to define a service plan, sometimes called a 
treatment plan, to read: Service plan or treatment plan means a written 
plan of action based on the assessment of client needs and strengths 
and engagement in joint problem solving with the client that identifies 
problems, sets goals, and describes a strategy for achieving those 
goals. To the extent possible, the plan should incorporate the use of 
evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions.
    Comment: We received two unique comments on this proposed 
definition. One commenter asked whether training and technical 
assistance will include information on evidence-based practices. The 
other comment (joined by many individuals and organizations) pointed 
out that the preamble text, but not the regulatory text, included the 
concept of safety planning. That comment also asked that safety 
planning include suicide prevention and other mental health crises.
    Response: FYSB will provide training and technical assistance to 
grantees by sharing evidence-based service planning practices. As to 
safety planning, we acknowledge the oversight and have added safety 
planning to the regulatory definition in the final rule. We have 
revised the proposed definition to include, in the final rule, ``As 
appropriate, the service and treatment plans should address both 
physical and mental safety issues.'' This covers all such issues, but 
does not require that plans explicitly address every unforeseen 
circumstance.
Short-Term Training
    We received no comments and the final rule contains the proposed 
definition unchanged.
State
    We did not receive any comments and have left this definition 
unchanged in the final rule.
Street Youth
    We proposed to define street youth to read: `Street youth means an 
individual who is a runaway youth or an indefinitely or intermittently 
homeless youth who spends a significant amount of time on the street or 
in other areas that increase the risk to such youth for sexual abuse, 
sexual exploitation, prostitution, or drug and/or alcohol abuse. For 
purposes of this definition, youth means an individual who is age 21 or 
less.' This definition reflects the statutory language from the Act 
(section 387(6)).
    Comment: We received one comment, which asked why we used age 21 or 
less in the definition.
    Response: The statute defines street youth to include a runaway 
youth or indefinitely or intermittently homeless youth. The statutory 
definition of homeless youth as defined in section 387(3) states that 
youth must be less than 22 years old. Accordingly, we have made no 
change in the final rule.
Supervised Apartments
    We received no comments on the definition of `supervised 
apartments' and have left the regulatory text unchanged in this final 
rule.
Technical Assistance
    We received no comments on this definition and have left it 
unchanged in the final rule.
Temporary Shelter
    Finally, we proposed to update the definition of temporary shelter 
to read: `Temporary shelter means all shelter settings in which runaway 
and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis intervention, 
and other services on a 24-hour basis for up to 21 days.'
    Comment: We received three unique comments on the proposed 
definition. One commenter said that 21 days was too short and should be 
extended to 30 days. One said that the definition should say explicitly 
up to 21 days ``or until such time as the statute allows.'' One said 
that the federal rule should allow longer periods of stay ``where 
permitted by state law.''
    Response: We appreciate these suggestions. Regarding the 21 day 
time limit, the Act is explicit at Sec.  311(a)(2)(B) that services 
provided through the Basic Center Program shall include ``safe and 
appropriate shelter provided for not to exceed 21 days.'' As to state 
law,

[[Page 93040]]

nothing precludes a state or private organization from subsidizing 
longer stays with state or private funding. We have modified the 
definition to make clear that 21 days is a restriction on the use of 
RHY funds through the Basic Center Program, not a restriction on the 
length of stay permitted by the facility. Temporary shelter is now 
defined as all Basic Center Program shelter settings in which runaway 
and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis intervention, 
and other services on a 24-hour basis for up to 21 days. The 21 day 
restriction is on the use of RHY funds through the Basic Center 
Program, not a restriction on the length of stay permitted by the 
facility.
    We also received a number of comments suggesting that we add 
definitions to the final rule. We address these suggestions below.
Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services
    Comment: One comment endorsed by about 50 individuals and 
organizations recommended that we add a definition for ``culturally and 
linguistically appropriate services.'' This comment acknowledged that 
throughout the proposed rule ACYF had demonstrated a clear intent that 
grantees provide services that are culturally sensitive and that meet 
the needs of diverse youth. The commenters suggested that this 
obligation be defined and that the definition include as its only 
substantive content reference to a set of service and governance 
standards that are promoted by the U.S. Public Health Service for use 
in health care settings (these standards are titled ``Culturally and 
Linguistically Appropriate Standards in Health and Health Care,'' and 
abbreviated CLAS). In effect, the commenters proposed that we make CLAS 
a binding standard for our grantees.
    Response: Though this final rule does not adopt the CLAS standards, 
it maintains the proposed rule's intent that grantees provide 
culturally and linguistically sensitive services and we include 
training on this for grantees in Sec.  1351.23(a) of this final 
regulation.
Family
    Comment: One commenter asked that we add a definition for 
``family,'' pointing out that many LGBTQ youth have adopted ``families 
of choice'' with adults or caregivers other than their parents or legal 
guardians. Other commenters made similar points in comments on specific 
definitions or requirements that referred to families.
    Response: We appreciate and agree with the underlying concern. In 
key places in the proposed and final rule, we make clear that while 
family reunification with the legal parents or guardian is the 
preferred option and in most cases in the best interest of youth, we 
allow for exceptions. While we are not defining the term ``family'', we 
have revised language throughout this final rule to allow for 
flexibility in instances where it may not be safe or appropriate for 
the grantee to contact a client's parents or legal guardians.
Supportive Housing
    Comment: We received one comment requesting that we add a 
definition for supportive housing.
    Response: In as much as supportive housing is not a service 
provided through these grants, we see no need to define it or any other 
type of non-time-limited housing. Aftercare plans can, as appropriate, 
address this or any other service.

Subpart B. Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grants

    The previous rule contained a number of sections dealing with the 
purposes of the program, eligibility for grants, priority for grants, 
matching requirements, the period of grant awards, allowable costs, 
application procedures, criteria for grant funding decisions, and 
additional information for grantees. We proposed revisions to all of 
these sections as well as to the title of the subpart to be Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Program Grants. These sections apply to all grants under 
the program.
Purpose
    Currently Sec.  1351.10 asks, ``What is the purpose of the Runaway 
and Homeless Youth Program grant?'' We proposed to re-title this 
section ``What is the purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program 
grants?'' This change in title reflects the growth of the program over 
time from the core Basic Center Program to a broader range of grant 
types and purposes. Relatedly, we proposed to amend the statement of 
purpose to emphasize not only transitional living services and other 
services added in recent years, but also the increasing emphasis on 
prevention and identifying the vulnerability of these youth. Under the 
proposal, the purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants 
would be to establish or strengthen community-based projects to provide 
runaway prevention, outreach, shelter, and transition services to 
runaway, homeless, or street youth or youth at risk of running away or 
becoming homeless. We stated that youth who have become homeless or who 
leave and remain away from home without parental permission are 
disproportionately subject to serious health, behavioral, and emotional 
problems.1 2 They lack sufficient resources to obtain care 
and may live on the street for extended periods, unable to achieve 
stable, safe living arrangements, during which they may be in 
danger.3 4 Many are urgently in need of temporary shelter 
and services,\5\ including services that are linguistically 
appropriate, responsive to their complex social identities (i.e., race, 
ethnicity, nationality, age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/
expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical ability, 
language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs), and 
acknowledge the environment they come from. We proposed that services 
should have a positive youth development approach that ensures a young 
person has a sense of safety and structure; belonging and membership; 
self-worth and social contribution; independence and control over one's 
life; skills to develop plans for the future and set goals; and, 
closeness in interpersonal relationships.\6\ To make a successful 
transition to adulthood, runaway youth, homeless youth, and other 
street youth also need opportunities to complete high school or earn a 
general equivalency degree, learn job skills, and obtain employment. 
HHS operates three programs to carry out these purposes through direct 
local services: The Basic Center Program, the Transitional Living 
Program (including Maternity Group Homes), and the Street Outreach 
Program. HHS conducts three additional activities to support 
achievement of these purposes: Research, evaluation, and service 
projects; a national communications system to assist runaway and 
homeless youth in communicating with service providers; and technical 
assistance and

[[Page 93041]]

training. The proposed rule covers all of these activities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Whitbeck, LB; Johnson, KD; Hoyt, DR & Cauce, AM. (2004). 
Mental disorder and comorbidity among runaway and homeless 
adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. 35(2): 132.
    \2\ Cauce, AM, et al. (2000). The characteristics and mental 
health of homeless adolescents. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral 
Disorders. 8(4):230.
    \3\ Whitbeck, LB; Chen, X; Hoyt, DR; Tyler, KA & Johnson, KD. 
(2004). Mental disorder, subsistence strategies, and victimization 
among gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless and runaway adolescents. 
The Journal of Sex Research. 41(4):329.
    \4\ Greene, JM; Ennet, ST & Ringwalk, CL. (1999). Prevalence and 
correlates of survival sex among runaway and homeless youth. 
American Journal of Public Health. 89(9):1406.
    \5\ Clark, R. & Robertson, M.J. (1996). Surviving for the 
Moment: A Report on Homeless Youth in San Francisco. Berkeley: 
Alcohol Research Group.
    \6\ Taylor-Seehafer, MA. (2004). Positive youth development: 
Reducing the health risks of homeless youth. MCN, American Journal 
of Maternal Child Nursing. 29(1):36.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Comment: We received several comments on the purpose of the 
program. Two commenters praised the proposed text for its inclusion of 
LGBTQ in its statement of the need to serve all runaway and homeless 
youth. One commenter praised the statement of purpose and proposed that 
we adopt the U.S. Public Health Service's guidelines of Culturally and 
Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (CLAS) as standards. 
A third commenter stated that we should add ``trauma-informed care'' as 
one of two practice frameworks for youth intervention to this section.
    Response: As previously explained, though this final rule does not 
adopt the CLAS standards, it maintains the proposed rule's intent that 
grantees provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services and 
we include training on this for grantees in Sec.  1351.23(a) of this 
final regulation. As to ``trauma-informed care,'' we believe that the 
statement of purpose already encompasses this and other practices on 
dealing with the traumatic circumstances that affect runaway and 
homeless youth. The proposed text is adopted virtually without change 
(or with only stylistic changes) to the final rule.
Eligibility for Grants
    The existing rule asks in Sec.  1351.11 ``Who is eligible to apply 
for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant?'' The eligibility 
requirements of the program have not changed significantly over the 
years but we proposed changes to this section to conform the regulatory 
language to the current statute. We proposed to state that all `public 
(state and local) and private non-profit entities, and coordinated 
networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the law 
enforcement structure or the juvenile justice system.' While specific 
regulatory language is not needed, we pointed out that most faith-based 
organizations meet the regulatory definition of non-profit. We received 
no comments on this section. However, because we are removing the 
definition of ``law enforcement structure'' in this final rule, we have 
deleted the reference to ``law enforcement structure'' in this section.
Priority for Awards
    The existing regulation addresses priority for awards. In 
consideration of the numerous comments and varying points of view on 
these issues, we proposed significant and streamlined changes to the 
language regarding grant award priorities in Sec.  1351.12. We received 
more than a half dozen unique comments on the proposed priorities and 
on ways to improve or refine them.
    Comment: Several commenters stated that our proposed language did 
not clearly show consistency with the statutory preference for awarding 
grants to applicants with past experience in serving runaway or 
otherwise homeless youth and recommended regulatory language to say 
this. One commenter suggested preference for grantees seeking 
continuation funding. One commenter gave specific recommendations for 
the amount of preference, e.g., 1 to 2 points for 10 years of 
successful experience. Another commenter recognized that the language 
did allow credit for experience but asked what objective measures or 
weights could be used. Several commenters recommended that points be 
given for successful monitoring visits. One of these stated that his 
project had been funded annually since 1986 but was dropped from 
funding despite successful performance and excellent monitoring scores. 
This commenter argued there should be an appeal process in case of 
mistakes in the award process.
    Response: With respect to the comments raising the issue of the 
statutory preference for prior experience, it is important to note that 
the proposed regulatory text mirrors the statutory language exactly. We 
note that the statute itself does not require us to give preference to 
an applicant with prior experience who has not performed as well as 
other applicants are likely to perform. The RHY statute requires that 
performance standards are incorporated into grantmaking, monitoring, 
and evaluation. For clarity and consistency, this requirement was added 
to the regulatory text. As to those comments proposing specific weights 
for our priorities or asking that those weights be included in the 
final rule, or suggesting other priorities for existing grantees, we 
are also not making those suggested changes. Annual funding opportunity 
announcements (FOAs) provide far more flexibility than codified 
regulations to enable HHS to tailor detailed rating factors or their 
weights to best accommodate the needs of the particular activities. We 
will, however, consider the specific proposals we received in modifying 
our priorities and rating methods in the next round of FOAs.
    Comment: A number of commenters addressed our proposed preference 
for applications costing $200,000 or less. Most of these commenters 
noted that the statute imposes this dollar limit only on the Basic 
Center Program. Some commenters also criticized what one called a 
``flat cap'' on a funding preference for Street Outreach and 
Transitional Living projects with budgets of $200,000 or less, and 
expressed concern that this is an absolute priority. One commenter 
pointed out that the proposed preference would reduce incentives to 
obtain other public or private resources, and recommended that at the 
very least the preference not include in-kind resources. This same 
commenter also argued that larger organizations with multiple grants 
could use creative accounting techniques to allocate overhead costs. 
Several of the commenters on this issue also pointed out that this 
priority would penalize more effective programs with higher budgets. 
Some of these commenters also suggested that the dollar limit created 
adverse incentives with respect to hard to serve youth or the most 
disadvantaged youth, such as many LGBTQ youth.
    Response: We agree with comments that pointed out that the 
statutory limit relates only to the Basic Center Program and have 
revised the regulatory text in paragraph (a) to follow section 
313(b)(2) of the Act which only applies a preference for applications 
less than $200,000 to Basic Center grants. We have added a clause to 
this provision to say that the preference will be for applications less 
than $200,000 ``or such figure as Congress may specify'' to account for 
future statutory changes. In addition, we have added in statutory 
language for prioritizing other types of RHY grants.
    In paragraph (b), for the Transitional Living Program, we added 
language from section 322(b) of the Act for prioritizing grants which 
says ``[i]n selecting eligible applicants to receive grants under this 
part, the Secretary shall give priority to entities that have 
experience in providing to homeless youth shelter and services of the 
types described in subsection (a)(1)'', which references Transitional 
Living Programs.
    In paragraph (c), we have added language from section 351(b) of the 
Act which says that in selecting applicants to receive grants under the 
Street Outreach Program, the Secretary shall give priority to public 
and nonprofit private agencies that have experience in providing 
services to runaway and homeless and street youth.
    In paragraph (d), for the national communications system, we have 
added language that follows section 331 of the Act with a slight 
modification. The

[[Page 93042]]

current statutory requirement is that the ``Secretary shall give 
priority to grant applicants that have experience in providing 
telephone services to runaway and homeless youth.'' To account for 
changes in technology, in this final rule we will prioritize grantees 
who have experience providing ``electronic communications services'' to 
runaway and homeless youth, including telephone, Internet, mobile 
applications, and other technology-driven services. This change is in 
keeping with the purposes of the provision and advances those purposes. 
We note that section 303 of the Act authorizes the Secretary to issue 
rules she considers necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes 
of the Act.
    In paragraph (e), to prioritize grants for research, evaluation, 
demonstration and service projects, we added language to this section 
in accordance with section 343(b) and (c) of the Act.
    In paragraph (f), we added language to specify that the performance 
standards will be integrated into the grantmaking, monitoring, and 
evaluation processes for the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living 
Program, and the Street Outreach Program. We also indicated that 
specific details about how performance standards will be considered, 
along with examples of performance documentation, will be provided in 
the annual funding opportunity announcements.
    To be clear, a grant application in an amount larger than $200,000 
from a project with demonstrated or likely superior performance can 
indeed receive an award.
    We also understand that serving disadvantaged youth can require 
additional financial investment. We want to emphasize our dedication to 
ensuring that all youth are served, including LGBTQ youth (as noted by 
the commenter) and youth who have experienced adverse circumstances, 
including physical and mental abuse, drug use, human trafficking, and 
other circumstances. We will address additional criteria for 
prioritizing grants to serve these vulnerable young people within our 
annual FOAs.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that funding priority under 
Sec.  1351.12 be given to applicants currently accredited by a national 
accrediting body.
    Response: Accreditation is another example of a possible future 
criterion for use in setting priorities or rating factors in annual 
FOAs. From currently available evidence, we do not have a sufficient 
basis to justify including such preference in a codified rule.
    Comment: A commenter endorsed by many individuals and organizations 
argued a priority be added to Sec.  1351.12 for applicants providing 
services without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or 
gender identity and that can best provide services meeting the needs of 
LBGT youth. This commenter also suggested adoption of ``culturally and 
linguistically appropriate'' (CLAS) services as a priority, and for 
adoption of nondiscrimination requirements at 42 U.S.C. 18116 (section 
1557 of the Affordable Care Act).
    Response: These civil rights issues are dealt with elsewhere in 
this final rule preamble and in sections of the final rule text. For 
example, see Sec. Sec.  1351.20 through 1351.22 which discuss 
additional requirements for RHY grantees.
    Based on comments received and for clarity, we have revised the 
final rule language in this section to mirror the language in the Act.
Matching Requirements
    We proposed a change to Sec.  1351.13 regarding matching share. The 
previous regulatory language conflicted with the updated statute on the 
amount of funding required by grantees to satisfy the match 
requirement. The previous language required a non-federal match amount 
which was at least equal to 10 percent of the federal funds received. 
To align the statute and the regulations, we proposed that the federal 
share of the project represents 90 percent of the total project cost 
supported by the federal government, thus the remaining 10 percent 
represents the required project match cost by the grantee. This may be 
a cash or in-kind contribution.
    We note that the language of the statute is phrased in terms 
implying an exact 10 percent matching share, but HHS has always taken 
the position that the language should not be interpreted to prevent 
grantees from spending additional funds from their own resources. We 
received no comments on these proposed changes and have left them 
unchanged in the final rule.
Project Period
    We did not propose changes to Sec.  1351.14, providing that the 
period for which a grant will be awarded is generally one year, 
renewable annually. We received no comments on this section and have 
left it unchanged.
Supportable Costs
    We proposed minor changes to update the language under Sec.  
1315.15 to more fully describe costs allowed under Runaway and Homeless 
Youth Program grants. Costs that can be supported include, but are not 
limited to, staff training and core services such as outreach, intake, 
case management, data collection, temporary shelter, transitional 
living arrangements, referral services, counseling services, and 
aftercare services. We proposed to retain the existing prohibition 
against acquisition or renovation costs that exceed 15 percent of the 
grant award, subject to potential waiver. We also proposed adding 
language that clarifies that research and evaluation, communications, 
and technical assistance grants are allowable costs that pertain to 
their unique purposes.
    Comment: We received one comment on these provisions. That 
commenter recommended that the list of supportable costs be amended to 
include transition to permanent housing. Examples were suggested, 
including first month of rent, move in costs, or utility fees.
    Response: The proposed definition excluded no reasonable costs 
related to achieving the goals of the program, other than a few 
specific limitations and those listed in costs not allowable. It used 
the phrase ``include, but are not limited to.'' Hence, in some 
circumstances we may pay for costs related to transition to permanent 
housing. It would be inappropriate, however, to pay for costs that are 
the legal obligation of another program. We have not changed the 
language in the final rule.
Costs Not Allowable
    We proposed a change to the language under Sec.  1351.16, now Sec.  
1351.16(a) of the final rule, that currently states only that capital 
costs for new facilities are not allowed under Runaway and Homeless 
Youth Program grants. We proposed retaining this prohibition and also 
explicitly prohibiting payment for the operating costs of existing 
community centers or other facilities that are used partially or 
incidentally for services to runaway or homeless youth clients. This 
does not mean that a reasonable fraction of utility or other overhead 
costs could not be charged to our grant when a facility provides 
multiple services, but it does mean that such fraction would have to be 
based on a reasonable cost allocation method approved by HHS, such as 
proportion of square footage devoted exclusively to each service in the 
facility. Separable costs of the Runaway and Homeless Youth project 
are, of course, fully reimbursable. The reason for this clarification 
is that we have seen proposed project budgets that include 
disproportionate allocations of facility-wide or overhead costs to

[[Page 93043]]

Runaway and Homeless Youth projects that use only a small portion of 
the facility. We received no comments on this section and have left it 
unchanged in the final rule.
    However, we have revised the final rule by adding a new Sec.  
1351.16(b) that states, ``A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant 
does not cover any treatment or referral to treatment that aims to 
change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender 
expression.'' This is further discussed later in the preamble.
Application Procedures
    The current rule under Sec.  1351.17 provides that HHS will publish 
program announcements of availability of grant funds annually in the 
Federal Register, and includes specific but outdated procedures for 
obtaining announcements and submitting applications. We proposed to 
change Sec.  1351.17 to address three changes since the rule was last 
revised. First, proposed paragraph (a) recognized that we now rely 
primarily on the Internet (rather than the Federal Register) for 
publication of our funding opportunity announcements. Second, under 
proposed paragraph (b) we allowed for electronic submission of 
completed grant applications through the federal government's http://www.grants.gov Web site. We would continue to allow for paper 
applications for grants. Third, our proposed language said that we will 
publish such announcements periodically rather than annually. The 
timing and frequency varies by type of grant and has changed over time. 
We received no comments on these proposed changes but are seeking to 
maximize flexibility as technology and procedures change in the future. 
Therefore, we have changed the language to say that an applicant should 
follow instructions included in funding opportunity announcements, 
which describe procedures for receipt and review of applications.
Funding Criteria
    Under existing Sec.  1351.18 we listed a number of criteria that we 
use for deciding which grant applications to fund. We proposed small 
technical changes to these criteria.
    Under paragraph (a) we proposed to retain the criteria that 
proposed projects meet funding priorities. We also added a clause 
making specific reference to our use of FOAs to establish specific 
details of the broad requirements, standards, and evaluation criteria 
contained in the proposed rule. Under the proposal, in reviewing 
applications, HHS would take into consideration whether the grant 
application meets the particular priorities, requirements, standards, 
or evaluation criteria established in funding opportunity 
announcements. We renumbered these criteria accordingly.
    In paragraph (b), we proposed to modify and combine the current 
requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) for demonstrating ``need'' to 
require that the likely estimated number of unserved runaway and 
homeless youth in the area exceed the capacity of existing services. 
That is, we would not require a census-like count of such youth, but 
merely a reasonable estimate that the number of such youth exceeds the 
capacity of existing services.
    We received no comments on subsections (a) or (b) and the proposed 
text in these subsections are unchanged in the final rule.
    Under proposed paragraph (c), we proposed to retain the existing 
requirement that runaway and homeless youth centers maintain a minimum 
residential capacity of four and a maximum of 20 youth in a single 
structure (except where the applicant assures that the state where the 
center or locally controlled facility is located has a state or local 
law or regulation that requires a higher maximum to comply with 
licensure requirements for child and youth serving facilities as 
authorized in Sec.  312(b)(2) of the Act) for all youth residing at the 
shelter on any given night. We proposed to clarify that the capacity 
standards apply only to grants that include such centers. We also 
proposed to revise the regulation to require centers to have the number 
of staff sufficient to assure adequate supervision of and treatment for 
the number of clients served rather than a mandatory ratio of staff to 
clients. This change is for consistency with the statute at section 
312(b)(2)(B) of the Act. While we are not aware of any uniform best 
practice for establishing such a ratio, an agency would refer to state 
laws and licensing regulations as they pertain to runaway and homeless 
youth shelters for guidelines. If no runaway and homeless youth shelter 
laws and licensing regulations have been established in a state, the 
agency would refer to state child welfare laws and regulations for 
youth. Agencies would be required to cite the guidelines they are 
following for the staff ratios they deem to be appropriate. To clarify 
this, we have added language to paragraph (c) to say that criteria used 
when determining which grant applications to fund must consider the 
guidelines followed for determining the appropriate staff ratio.
    Comment: We received one comment on proposed Sec.  1351.18(c) on 
residential capacity, asking whether there should be a minimum number 
of youth to be served by host family homes (such as 4) and when federal 
requirements take precedence over state or local licensing 
requirements.
    Response: We do not believe there should be any minimum number of 
youth served in host family homes. Some of the best domiciles may 
involve room for, or willingness to supervise and host, just one youth. 
Our residential capacity requirements are not intended to preempt state 
or local rules in any way, and we specifically allow state or local 
licensure requirements to impose higher maximum standards.
    Under paragraph (d), we proposed to slightly modify the criteria 
under current paragraph (e) removing the language concerning the 72-
hour timeframe from admission for the program to make contact with 
family. The requirement is contained in Subpart C, at new Sec.  
1351.24(e).
    We received six unique comments on this section, and address the 
concerns of these commenters separately below.
    Comment: Section 1351.18(d) of our funding criteria contains our 
proposed provision on making ``best interest of the child'' an 
important requirement. Several comments on other sections had mentioned 
a concern over making that criterion clear. One commenter recommended 
that this term also be incorporated into the definitions of counseling 
services, health care services, and home-based services; addressed or 
added in three paragraphs of this section, and added to sections on 
requirements for Basic Center projects and performance standards for 
these grantees. Two other commenters on best interest of the child also 
suggested amending the proposed language dealing with alternative 
living arrangements.
    Response: We placed this important requirement in our section on 
overall criteria for funding priorities, a core section of the rule. We 
agree that the best interest of the child will in some cases prevent 
either counseling with or reunification with the family. In some cases 
(e.g., involving sexual orientation or gender identity) the family will 
have forced the youth to leave and be unwilling to discuss the matter, 
and in some cases physical abuse or other criminal behaviors will 
prevent family involvement. We appreciate that there are many other 
specific provisions where we could add requirements or references to 
best interest of the child and we do reference the best interest of the 
child consistently throughout this

[[Page 93044]]

rule. It is in this section that we explicitly make best interest of 
the child one of the major priorities to be addressed in all funding 
awards and all runaway and homeless youth services. Our proposed 
language explicitly conditioned joint involvement of youth and family 
to cases ``when possible.'' We did not intend ``possible'' to mean only 
literal impossibility (though this will sometimes be the case), but 
``reasonably possible,'' and taking into account the circumstances of 
each case and the best interest of the client youth. We have revised 
the rule to reflect this. Consistent with section 312 of the statute, 
our proposed language also required that grantees develop adequate 
``plans,'' which includes in this context carefully considered methods 
and procedures for handling the most difficult circumstances and 
situations where family involvement may not be reasonably possible. We 
think that the proposed rule language provides a clear ``best 
interest'' policy applicable to all services for the client youth, and 
have not revised either this section or other sections in response to 
these comments.
    As for the comments suggesting that we revise the text concerning 
best interest of the child to more clearly indicate that alternative 
living arrangements (not just to return home or to law enforcement) are 
an option that will sometimes be in the best interest of the child, we 
agree that alternative living arrangements should be considered when 
developing plans for Basic Center grantees. We have modified the 
language to cite the statute more closely, which says in section 
312(b)(3) that such grantees ``shall develop adequate plans for 
contacting the parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the 
safe return of the youth according to the best interests of the youth, 
for contacting local government officials pursuant to informal 
arrangements established with such officials by the runaway and 
homeless youth center, and for providing for other appropriate 
alternative living arrangements.''
    We proposed to retain the language in paragraphs (f) through (h) of 
the previous version of this regulation and renumber them (e) through 
(g). This language ensures that HHS criteria for deciding which RHY 
grant applications to fund include:
    (e) Plans for the delivery of aftercare or counseling services to 
runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families;
    (f) Whether the estimated cost to HHS for the Runaway and Homeless 
Youth project is reasonable considering the anticipated results; and
    (g) Whether the proposed personnel are well qualified and the 
applicant agency has adequate facilities and resources.
    We added a new paragraph (h) to ensure that HHS criteria for 
deciding which RHY grant applications to fund includes past performance 
on a RHY grant, including but not limited to program performance 
standards. In fact, paragraph (h) clearly states our intent to consider 
a grantee's past performance, including measures associated with the 
performance standards outlined in Sec. Sec.  1351.30, 1351.31, and 
1351.32, when deciding which RHY grantee applications to fund.
    Paragraphs (i) and (j) outline funding criteria for whether the 
proposed project design, if well executed, is capable of attaining 
program objectives. The paragraphs also outline funding criteria for 
whether the grant application is consistent with the provisions of the 
Act and these regulations. These paragraphs were unchanged. A new 
paragraph (k) was proposed to include other factors as outlined in the 
funding opportunity announcements.
    Comment: One commenter discussing Sec.  1351.18 argued for adding a 
reference to a new civil rights law, and for requiring ``culturally and 
linguistically appropriate services'' in five separate paragraphs 
within this section. This same commenter argued for adding such a 
reference or requirement in many other sections of the rule.
    Response: The final rule maintains the proposed rule's intent that 
grantees provide culturally and linguistically sensitive services. See 
Sec.  1351.23(a) of this final regulation.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include appeals procedures to 
deal with mistakes in the review process and involve regional staff in 
the grant review process to Sec.  1351.18.
    Response: This rule governs primarily the operation of the Runaway 
and Homeless Program by grantees, and does not address or govern the 
internal administrative processes of the federal government. Hence, 
while we appreciate the suggestions as to the grant review process, we 
do not address them in the final rule. We will take them into account 
in our internal decision making. We note that we already involve 
regional staff in the grant review process, since they bring unique 
expertise and knowledge of local conditions and grantees to that 
process. In addition, in accordance with the HHS Grants Policy 
Statement, ``The decision not to award a grant, or to award a grant at 
a particular funding level, is discretionary and is not subject to 
appeal to any OPDIV or HHS official or board.''
    Comment: Two commenters asked that we add as a criterion to Sec.  
1351.18 ``demonstrated engagement in efforts with the local Continuum 
of Care'' activity and one of these suggested adding partnerships with 
adult homeless agencies as a requirement. One of these commenters also 
recommended that grant applicants should show that they are integrating 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (RHYMIS) 
reporting with the HUD Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) 
reporting.
    Response: Coordination with other agencies and programs is very 
important to the program, both to improve outcomes and to reduce wasted 
or duplicative effort. Continuum of Care is one of the most important 
of these in many areas served by our grantees. We have chosen not to 
make such coordination a criterion for funding decisions on individual 
grant awards, but have instead included it in our additional 
requirements, discussed in our response to comments on the next section 
of the rule. As for program reporting, the integration of these two 
systems is proceeding and once completed will be enforced under Sec.  
1351.23(c) of the final rule. See our subsequent discussion of that 
subsection.
Other Federal Requirements and Program Policies
    After reviewing comments, the final rule has expanded upon Sec.  
1351.19 of the proposed rule to provide clarity by separating the 
section into Sec. Sec.  1351.20 through 1351.22 in subpart A of the 
final rule. This is discussed in detail below. Under the previous rule, 
Sec.  1351.19 contains a list of other rules and regulations that apply 
to applicants for, or recipients, of program funds. These include, for 
example, regulations concerning civil rights obligations of recipients 
and regulations concerning fraud, waste, and abuse. We proposed 
amending that rule to include additional rules that also are 
specifically intended to apply to all HHS grantees or, in some cases, 
to all federal grantees.
    The expanded list under proposed paragraph (a) included rules 
related to civil rights requirements, to other client protections, to 
administrative requirements in HHS grant programs, and to preventing 
fraud or abuse. This expanded list does not attempt to list all of the 
federal laws and regulations (e.g., provisions of the Internal Revenue 
Code regarding non-profit status, minimum wage requirements, and 
numerous

[[Page 93045]]

others) that pertain to organizations that may be grant applicants or 
awardees. The provisions we listed here are not for the most part 
administered through either the Administration for Children and 
Families or its Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (though the agency 
may in some instances assist in their enforcement), but by other HHS 
components or by other federal agencies that set the conditions and 
enforcement mechanisms that apply to those provisions, and that 
determine whether and in what circumstances grant-related penalties may 
apply. For example, the HHS Office for Civil Rights enforces civil 
rights protections. This section already contains in paragraph (b) 
several additional provisions, mainly client confidentiality 
protections, that we did not propose to change, as well as new and 
expanded protections concerning protection of youth and providing non-
discriminatory services that comprehensively address individual needs. 
In paragraph (c), we proposed to update our reference to the Act as 
defined in the proposed rule. We also proposed to amend the title of 
the section to include ``other Federal Requirements'' in the title. We 
received no comments on many of these subsections and have left the 
language of those subsections unchanged in the final rule.
    Comment: We received several comments on Sec.  1351.19 suggesting 
that we add a civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. 18116, enacted as section 
1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to the list of applicable rules 
in subsection (a). This statute prohibits discrimination on the basis 
of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain 
health programs or activities, including those funded by federal grants 
or established under Title I of ACA. Existing laws and regulations 
already prohibit most of these types of discrimination, at least for 
federal grantees and in some cases for all or most service providers, 
whether or not involving health. The most notable addition in the 
recently enacted statute is the prohibition against sex discrimination 
in the provision of health care services. Current sex discrimination 
regulations applicable directly to grantees cover only those grantees 
providing education services (of course, there also exist employment-
related prohibitions on sex discrimination by private or public 
employers that are enforced by yet other agencies, such as the Equal 
Employment Opportunity Commission, regardless of grantee status). Some 
persons, including these commenters, hope or expect that this new and 
far broader prohibition on sex discrimination will extend to sexual 
orientation and gender identity.
    Response: Section 1351.22 has been added to address discrimination 
in RHY grantee programs and facilities. The new language added in Sec.  
1351.22(a) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual 
orientation, and gender identity and expression. This section clarifies 
the intent of the section as initially written in the notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM). To be clear, the rule does not bar grantees 
from considering the needs of each applicant and the health and safety 
of other beneficiaries when determining eligibility for programs, 
activities, or services. Language has been added in Sec.  1351.22 
making this part of coordinated entry explicitly permissible.
    A preceding clause at Sec.  1351.20 includes references to 45 CFR 
part 86 and 92, both which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, 
which includes gender identity. The former rule, at 45 CFR 86.31, 
applies to education programs or activities that are carried out under 
various HHS-funded grant programs including RHY grants. The latter 
rule, at 45 CFR part 92, applies to the provision of mental health 
counseling and other health activities carried out by the RHY programs.
    Section 1351.20 of the final rule lists fourteen codified 
regulations that apply or potentially apply to all federal grantees (as 
applicable). Title 42 U.S.C. 18116 was enacted in 2010 and conforming 
regulations were issued on May 18, 2016 at 45 CFR part 92, entitled 
``Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities,'' which 
implements the prohibition of discrimination under section 1557 of the 
Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. These regulations prohibit 
discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity in HHS-
funded health programs or activities. To the extent that an RHY grantee 
operates health programs or activities, any part of which receives 
federal financial assistance, section 1557 and the corresponding 
regulations under 45 CFR part 92 will apply to that health program or 
activity.
    For these reasons we revised our list of regulations that apply or 
potentially apply to Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees to 
include 45 CFR part 92.
    Comment: Another commenter asked that we apply the language of a 
New York State nondiscrimination statute to Runaway and Homeless Youth 
grantees, on behalf of LGBTQ youth. The commenter stated that the New 
York law explicitly prohibits programs, program staff, and program 
volunteers from engaging in or condoning discrimination or harassment 
on the basis of race, creed, national origin, age, sex, sexual 
orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, religion, 
or disability. Other commenters asked that we not merely require that 
our grantees be responsive to the needs of LGBTQ youth, but also 
prohibit discrimination against such youth.
    Response: We have included language in Sec.  1351.22 of the final 
rule that requires service delivery and staff training to 
comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth as 
well as be language appropriate, gender appropriate (interventions that 
are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and 
transgender youth), and culturally sensitive and respectful of the 
complex social identities of youth (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, 
age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual 
orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, 
language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs). No runaway 
youth or homeless youth shall, on any of the foregoing bases, be 
excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be 
subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in 
whole or in part under the Act. Additionally, after publication of this 
rule, we will produce a best-practices guide focused on sheltering and 
serving LGBTQ youth. This document will serve as a tool for grantees 
and will include information about how to create safe and affirming 
spaces for transgender youth.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we specifically prohibit for 
LGBTQ youth so-called ``conversion therapy,'' meaning ``[a]ny treatment 
or referral to treatment that aims to change someone's sexual 
orientation, gender identity or gender expression.''
    Response: We are not aware of any instance where an RHY grantee has 
used ``conversion therapy'' or ``reparative therapy'' to aim to change 
an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. However, we 
agree it would be wholly inappropriate for this to take place and are 
amending this final rule to explicitly exclude, by definition, 
conversion therapy from allowable counseling services and health care 
services. Additionally, we have revised the final rule by adding a new 
Sec.  1351.16(b) that states, ``A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program 
grant does not cover any treatment or referral to treatment that aims 
to change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender 
expression.''
    Additionally, we have revised ``counseling services'' and ``health 
care

[[Page 93046]]

services'' in Sec.  1351.1 to specifically exclude conversion therapy 
by adding language at the end of the definition that says ``[a]ny 
treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone's sexual 
orientation, gender identity or gender expression is prohibited.''
    Conversion therapy is a controversial practice and a number of 
states, including Oregon, California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, 
have passed laws in recent years banning it. In 2001, U.S. Surgeon 
General issued a report stating that ``there is no valid scientific 
evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.'' \7\ Over recent 
years, the Pan American Health Organization, American Psychological 
Association and other organizations have concluded that the practice is 
unethical and should be banned.8 9 10 11
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ \b\ The Surgeon General's call to Action to Promote Sexual 
Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior'', A Letter from the Surgeon 
General U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. 
Department of Health and Human Services.
    \8\ Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill (2006). Youth in the 
crosshairs: The third wave of ex-gay activism. New York: National 
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
    \9\ ``Statement of the American Psychological Association 
(PDF).http://web.archive.org/web/20110806095055/http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/ex-gay.pdf APA.org. American Psychological 
Association. 10 August 2006. Archived
    \10\ ``Therapies to change sexual orientation lack medical 
justification and threaten health''. Pan American Health 
Organization (PAHO). Retrieved 26 May 2012.Archived
    \11\ Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office of the 
World Health Organization; Press release May 17, 2012 ``Therapies'' 
to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten 
health http://www.webcitation.org/67xKQyixE.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Comment: Another commenter argued that we should point out the 
recent issuances of the Department of Education (ED) stating that the 
protections of title IX of the Education Act extend to gender identity 
and expression.
    Response: We agree that title IX of the Education Amendments of 
1972 is an important statute. While the recent guidelines from ED are a 
new interpretation under the statute, title IX applies only to 
education programs. Services provided under Runaway and Homeless Youth 
grants in the three main service programs are not considered education 
programs, and therefore, title IX will rarely, if ever, apply to 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. Title IX applies to the education 
programs (typically public or private schools, colleges, and 
universities receiving federal grants from the Department of Education) 
to which runaway or homeless youth are sometimes referred. Therefore, 
we did not make changes in response to this comment.
    Comment: Six commenters addressed the confidentiality and 
information disclosure requirements proposed in Sec.  1351.19(b)(1). We 
had proposed this language unchanged from the present rule. Most of 
these commenters addressed potential disclosure to state law 
enforcement authorities or pursuant to court order, and argued that 
this would reduce the protection afforded to youth. Most commenters 
argued for eliminating or reducing the scope of our proposed language, 
which created an exception for cases in which release is ``compelled by 
a court or statutory mandate.'' These commenters seemed to assume that 
this would place youth in danger, and asserted that youth would be 
dissuaded from seeking help by what they perceived as weakened privacy 
protections. One of these commenters asked whether a subpoena would 
apply. Yet another commenter suggested that we create a different 
standard for youth served in the Basic Center and Transitional Living 
Programs, because the statutory text differs as to parental consent and 
whether consent must be informed.
    Response: We very much appreciate these thoughtful responses, which 
we have used to make important changes to the proposed language. Based 
on the comments received, we have modified the regulatory text to 
reflect the different statutory standards for youth served in the Basic 
Center and Transitional Living Programs, and to interpret 
confidentiality requirements more narrowly.
    With respect to the Basic Center Program, section 312(b)(7) of the 
Act is clear that grantees ``shall keep adequate statistical records 
profiling the youth and family members whom it serves (including youth 
who are not referred to out-of-home shelter services), except that 
records maintained on individual runaway and homeless youth shall not 
be disclosed without the consent of the individual youth and parent or 
legal guardian to anyone other than another agency compiling 
statistical records or a government agency involved in the disposition 
of criminal charges against an individual youth. Reports or other 
documents based on such statistical records shall not disclose the 
identity of individual runaway and homeless youth.''
    For youth in Transitional Living Programs, section 322(a)(13) of 
the Act requires grantees ``not to disclose records maintained on 
individual homeless youth without the informed consent of the 
individual youth to anyone other than an agency compiling statistical 
records.'' Specific to Transitional Living Programs, the Act only 
requires consent from the youth to release records, which is different 
from the Basic Center Programs which require informed consent from the 
individual youth and their legal guardian.
    Section 384 of the Act reads: ``Records containing the identity of 
individual youth pursuant to this Act may under no circumstances be 
disclosed or transferred to any individual or to any public or private 
agency.'' It is important to note that there are exceptions to this 
provision. For example, as noted previously, records may be released 
after proper consent of youth or parent/guardian. Further, de-
identified information can be released for research purposes. De-
identified is a technical term that applies to methods commonly used in 
sensitive research to prevent identification of individuals from a 
dataset. For example, names might be replaced by numbers (often much 
more complex steps need to be taken as well). This is further explained 
in the response to the comment below. We have changed the regulatory 
text to reflect these statutory requirements.
    Comment: Another commenter asked whether de-identified information 
could be released for purposes of program evaluation or academic 
research, pointing out that research using such information is 
essential to improving the quality of services over time.
    Response: The Act allows and requires research on service 
effectiveness (section 343), which normally cannot be measured without 
records on individual outcomes, but specifically prohibits disclosure 
or release of ``records containing the identity of individual youth'' 
to ``any individual or any public or private agency'' (section 384). In 
other places, the Act requires shelter grantees to ``keep adequate 
statistical records'' and allows their use in reports ``based on such 
statistical records'' (section 312(b)(7) for Basic Center grants; 
similar language applies to other services). In the light of these 
provisions, we interpret the statute to state that research, 
evaluation, and statistical reports funded by grants provided under 
section 343 of the Act are allowed to be based on individual data but 
only if such data are de-identified in ways that preclude disclosing 
identifiable information on individuals. We have added language in 
Sec.  1351.21(a)(3) to codify this interpretation.
    Comment: Several other unique comments pointed out that requiring 
consent of both the youth and the family will not always be appropriate 
or consistent with state law, or consistent with the emancipated status 
of many

[[Page 93047]]

youth served. One commenter pointed out that the statutory requirements 
for consent to release of information differ for Basic Center and 
Transitional Living Programs.
    Response: We appreciate commenters bringing these issues to our 
attention. We agree that for the Transitional Living Program, only the 
individual youth's informed consent is required under section 
322(a)(13) of the Act. In addition, the Basic Center grant has 
different disclosure criteria under section 312(b)(7) of the Act. For 
Basic Center Programs, youth and parents must provide consent. We have 
revised the regulatory text in Sec.  1351.21(a)(1) to reflect the 
statute accordingly.
    We did not receive any comments on paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) 
and therefore did not make any changes to the proposed text in this 
final rule.
    Section 1351.19(b)(5) proposed requirements that grantees serve, in 
a non-discriminatory fashion, individual needs of youth without regard 
to language, gender, or LGBTQ status, and to be ``culturally sensitive 
and respectful of the complex social identities of youth,'' including 
``religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual 
orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, language, beliefs, 
values, behavior patterns, or customs'' as well as race and physical 
abilities. The inclusion of the term ``behavior patterns'' in this 
section will of course not prevent grantees from determining ineligible 
for services youth with a history or criminal record that poses a 
potential safety risk to other youth in the grantee's care.
    Comment: We received six comments regarding proposed Sec.  
1351.19(a)(5), now Sec.  1351.22(a), concerning ``non-discriminatory 
services and training'' and ``culturally sensitive'' services. The 
comments principally requested that the rule establish a new legal 
right of individuals for protection against discrimination aimed at 
them personally, or including such terms as ``cultural and 
linguistically appropriate'' throughout the rule.
    Response: In response, Sec.  1351.22 has been added, addressing 
discrimination in RHY grantee programs and facilities. We are changing 
the title of subsection (a) to clarify that this section does require 
that runaway and homeless youth services and training must be both 
``non-discriminatory and culturally and linguistically sensitive.'' We 
believe it is important that all grantees and other stakeholders 
understand that our practice and intent is to hold grantees to 
practices that meet individual needs, regardless of racial, sexual 
orientation, cultural, or other diverse backgrounds.
    We specifically do not intend this change to reference the CLAS 
voluntary guideline standards of the U.S. Public Health Service, which 
as previously explained are inappropriate for a number of reasons 
(e.g., intended only for health care programs and conflicting in some 
respects with the requirements of the Act and best practices for 
runaway and homeless youth). We will continue to provide appropriate 
guidance to grantees on our approach through training and technical 
assistance. For example, there are differences among Native American 
tribes and some immigrant groups as to whether the locus of family 
authority is patrilineal or matrilineal. This should influence the 
practices that grantees use to approach and counsel certain families 
and youth they serve. We believe that our grantees generally understand 
these nuances quite well, since they have significant experience 
working with these populations.
    We emphasize that the language of this final rule is in no way 
intended to create new individual rights. Civil rights for individuals 
served by HHS programs are enforced through the Office for Civil Rights 
under its regulations and guidance and in compliance with federal civil 
rights law. Grantees who are unfamiliar with these laws and regulations 
should review our list of civil rights and other regulations that apply 
to HHS grantees but that are administered by other agencies.
    Comment: One commenter pointed out that often the provision of 
gender appropriate services is a matter of allowing a youth to 
participate in programming that is appropriate for their gender 
identity, or with the gendered group where they feel most safe and 
supported. The commenter also highlighted that the provision of gender 
appropriate services requires sensitivity to the diverse experiences of 
youth, and the process of determining what services are appropriate for 
a transgender youth may require individualized consultation with the 
youth, rather than a blanket determination of what services are 
necessary or appropriate based on their gender identity, sex assigned 
at birth, gender expression, or the status of their identity documents.
    Response: We agree. Section 1351.22(a) of this final regulation 
includes a provision to require that service delivery and staff 
training comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of 
youth, including the youth's gender and gender identity. We note that 
best practices in this area include asking transgender, questioning and 
intersex clients to identify their gender and to assign them housing 
based on their gender self-identification. Technical assistance to 
grantees will be provided on this issue.
    Comment: One commenter mentioned a recent HUD rule adding a new 
non-discrimination right for LGBTQ adults participating in subsidized 
housing programs and recommended including an explicit 
nondiscrimination provision into these rules to harmonize the 
requirements applicable to the many grantees receiving funding from 
both HUD and HHS.
    Response: The HUD rule mentioned is grounded in the applicable 
housing statutes. Therefore, we did not add these specific provisions 
to the rule. However, Sec.  1351.22 of the final rule was added to 
address discrimination in RHY grantee programs and facilities. This 
section includes strong non-discrimination standards for LGBTQ 
individuals.
    Comment: Two commenters argued that our use of the term ``gender 
specific'' might be misinterpreted as requiring segregation, such as 
segregation of transgender youth from their male or female peers, or 
separate programming on the basis of gender.
    Response: The full phrasing in the proposed rule stated that gender 
specific meant ``interventions that are sensitive to the diverse 
experiences of male, female, and transgender youth'' and ``respectful 
of the complex social identities of youth'' including ``gender 
identity/expression'' and ``sexual orientation.'' However, to ensure 
that our language is not misunderstood we have changed the term 
``gender specific'' to ``gender appropriate'' in the final rule, as 
suggested.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that education, age, cognitive 
ability, and physical ability be added to the list of ``complex social 
identities of youth in Sec.  1351.19(b)(5)'' of the proposed rule.
    Response: We have reviewed these suggestions. We do not believe 
that ``education'' is needed on a list of ``complex social identities 
of youth,'' as education is not part of a youth's social identity and 
is instead something that a youth achieves.
    However, we do agree that ``age'' and ``cognitive'' ability, as 
well as ``physical ability,'' should be included in paragraph (a). We 
have made these changes in the final rule.

Subpart C. Additional Requirements

    As discussed in the previous section of this preamble, the final 
rule expands on Sec.  1351.19 of the proposed rule and provisions of 
this section have been reorganized in Sec. Sec.  1351.20 through 
1351.22 to address, ``What Government-

[[Page 93048]]

wide and HHS-wide regulations apply to these programs?,'' ``What 
confidentiality requirements apply to these programs?,'' and ``What 
additional requirements apply to these programs?,'' respectively, and 
these sections are now included in subpart C of the final rule. 
Additional changes to subpart C of the proposed rule are discussed 
below.
    We requested comments on whether there is substantial evidence that 
these or any other requirements not proposed here would improve program 
outcomes, either overall or for each type of grant, at reasonable 
effort and cost. We also requested comment on whether placing either 
the proposed standards or additional standards in funding opportunity 
announcements rather than in regulations would allow sufficient 
flexibility to grantees or would hinder our ability to use targeted 
initiatives to improve program practices.
    Under Sec.  1351.20(a), we proposed revising the language requiring 
grantees to participate in technical assistance and training in order 
to allow flexibility in which techniques will be used, and proposed 
clarifying that grantees must also accept monitoring. This list of 
technical assistance and training options reflected primarily the 
evolution and expansion over the years of the training and technical 
assistance program, and the items listed are all conducted currently 
under the program. Requirements we proposed to add are core 
competencies for youth workers, core support services, cultural and 
linguistic diversity, background checks, ethics, and staff safety. In 
particular, we proposed positive youth development as a priority area 
for training or technical assistance. Under our proposal, grantees 
would participate in technical assistance or short-term training as a 
condition of funding, as determined necessary by HHS, in areas such as, 
but not limited to:
     Aftercare services or counseling;
     Background checks;
     Core competencies of youth workers;
     Core support services;
     Crisis intervention techniques;
     Cultural and linguistic diversity;
     Development of coordinated networks of private nonprofit 
agencies and/or public agencies to provide services;
     Ethics and staff safety;
     Fiscal management;
     Low cost community alternatives for runaway or otherwise 
homeless youth;
     Positive youth development;
     Program management;
     Risk and Protective Factors related to youth homelessness;
     Screening and assessment practices;
     Shelter facility staff development;
     Special populations (tribal youth; LGBTQ; intersex youth; 
youth with disabilities; youth victims of trafficking, sexual 
exploitation or sexual abuse),
     Trauma and the effects of trauma on youth;
     Use of evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions;
     Youth and family counseling; and
     Confidentiality policies and protocols.
    This is a substantial addition but one that we believe is useful to 
reflect the current set of policy and program priorities as set forth 
in the Act and in the program solicitations and management improvements 
that have been made in the overall program in recent years. Virtually 
all of these proposed provisions were derived from specific statutory 
mandates and are already part of standard operating procedures. Many 
participants in our consultative process also suggested most of these 
items, reflecting the general consensus as to their importance in 
operating effective services. We received six comments on this 
subsection.
    Comment: Several comments were supportive and raised no questions. 
Several comments posed questions about the training requirements. Four 
commenters asked whether all individuals on grantee staff would have to 
receive training or technical assistance, or if this requirement could 
be applied to certain grantee staff but not all, particularly when 
staff members are not regularly in contact with youth. One commenter 
asked whether all individuals would have to receive all types of 
training, or whether training could be tailored to each individual's 
role in providing services. Several commenters asked that only 
individuals in contact with youth more than 10 hours a week be required 
to participate in training. Another commenter asked who would decide 
what technical assistance is needed and who will provide it. One 
commenter asked whether new hires would have to be trained before 
employment begins. Yet another commenter asked several questions about 
whether grantees could provide their own training or whether the 
federal government would provide the curriculum.
    Response: First, the new language would not require every single 
individual to participate in every kind of training.
    To clarify this provision further, we have added a sentence at the 
end of paragraph (a) that highlights that this it is not a requirement 
that every staff person receive training in every subject but all 
youth-serving workers on staff should receive training sufficient to 
meet the stated core competencies of youth workers. This training is 
offered by ACF.
    ACF will provide the development of the curriculum for all training 
and technical assistance as well as provide access to courses and 
materials. The vast majority of these trainings will be available on 
the internet. We hope that this will provide the greatest flexibility 
for our grantees.
    If for any reason, a staff member is not able to participate in the 
training from the federal government, the grantee can provide its own 
training based on the ACF materials.
    Additionally, grantees are expected to provide in-house training to 
new hires on some of the most critical responsibilities, without 
waiting for the next available Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and 
Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) course. Some kinds of training or 
technical assistance, beyond core competencies, may be mandated for all 
grantees in funding opportunity announcements, in other cases only for 
those identified as needing help.
    In still other cases, grantees will request help in particular 
areas. ACF offers different formats and levels of training within a 
variety of subjects, allowing quick training for many and in-depth 
training for few. More information about these resources is available 
at our online Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical 
Assistance Center (see: http://www.rhyttac.net/about/what-rhyttac).
    Comment: One commenter asked us to add ``secondary trauma and self-
care'' to our list of required subjects in Sec.  1351.20(a) of the 
proposed rule.
    Response: We agree that trauma is an extremely important issue and 
think that proposed list of training and technical assistance 
sufficiently addresses trauma and the effects of trauma on youth. We 
encourage grantees to include secondary trauma in their training when 
discussing the effects of trauma on youth. Grantees are welcome and 
encouraged to train staff beyond requirements listed in this 
regulation. In addition, there are multiple ways to propose changes as 
identified on the RHYTTAC Web site, including contacting RHYTTAC 
leadership, membership on or contact with the National Advisory Board, 
using the RHYTTAC Community of Practice, participating in workshops, or 
contacting subject matter experts.
    Comment: One commenter asked us to change ``cultural and linguistic 
diversity'' in paragraph (a) to ``culturally

[[Page 93049]]

and linguistically appropriate.'' This commenter also asked that we 
clarify that crisis intervention techniques be interpreted to include 
knowledge and learning for suicide prevention and crisis intervention.
    Response: We agree and have made the change to ``culturally and 
linguistically sensitive services'' in the final rule. We agree that 
crisis intervention techniques include suicide prevention. No change is 
needed in the wording of the final rule, however, on this latter point.
    Under Sec.  1351.20(b), we proposed minor technical revisions to 
update the existing provision requiring coordination with the National 
Runaway Safeline. Under our proposal, grantees shall coordinate their 
activities with the 24-hour national toll-free communication system, 
which links Runaway and Homeless Youth projects and other service 
providers with runaway or otherwise homeless youth, as appropriate to 
the specific activities provided by the grantee. At present, this 
system is called the National Runaway Safeline, its Web site is 
www.1800runaway.org, and the toll-free number is 1-800-RUNAWAY. We 
received no comments on this provision and the language is unchanged in 
the final rule.
    Under Sec.  1351.20(c), we proposed a technical revision to the 
reporting provision to require grantees to submit statistical reports 
that profile the clients served and that provide management and 
performance information in accordance with guidance provided by HHS. 
Such data submission was handled through the Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Management Information System (RHYMIS) and is now being handled through 
an integrated RHYMIS/HUD Management Information System (HMIS). While 
these information systems are a major innovation and improvement tool 
in program data collection, updating the regulatory reference is a 
minor change from a regulatory perspective. The existing rule quotes 
specific statutory language in place when the rule was written. The Act 
now contains additional requirements (see in particular sections 
312(b)(7) and (8), and section 322(a)(9)). For example, it explicitly 
states that Runaway and Homeless Youth projects ``shall keep adequate 
statistical records profiling the youth and family members whom it 
serves,'' that grantees ``shall submit annual reports to the Secretary 
detailing how the center has been able to meet the goals of its 
plans,'' and that grantees shall submit ``statistical summaries 
describing . . . the number and characteristics of the runaway and 
homeless youth . . . who participate . . . and the services provided to 
such youth.'' We proposed to revise this section to require appropriate 
reporting and to delete specific quotations from the Act.
    Comment: We received two comments directly on Sec.  1351.20(c). One 
commenter argued for acceptance of data from a system called Child and 
Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) in RHYMIS. One commenter quoted 
several research studies in arguing that the RHYMIS data significantly 
understate the number of LBGT youth who are homeless and recommended 
improving grantee recording of such information through technical 
assistance and training.
    Response: We are continually working to improve our data collection 
system. We will continue to work to improve data reporting and will 
consider these comments under the integrated HMIS system, which has now 
incorporated RHYMIS. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control 
Number for RHYMIS is 0970-0123, which has a current expiration date of 
February 28, 2018. We are looking to revise data standards to reduce 
the burden associated with filling out the data for the RHY program by 
the Spring of 2017, with the effective date of October 1, 2017.
    Comment: Six comments on either the preamble or this provision 
recommended that RHYMIS be coordinated or combined with the HMIS system 
used in HUD's homeless programs. Several of these commenters also 
mentioned the Point In Time (PIT) counts used by HUD to estimate the 
number of homeless. One commenter pointed out that it is essentially 
forced to use three database systems: Its own internal system, RHYMIS, 
and HMIS.
    Response: We agree and as noted, ACF and HUD are coordinating the 
integration of the RHYMIS with HMIS systems. Specific information about 
the integration process and the data standards grantees are required to 
comply with has been and will continue to be provided to grantees in 
separate guidance from FYSB.
    Comment: One unique comment recommended that client confidentiality 
be protected under the merged system.
    Response: We agree and the confidentiality standards set forth in 
the Act will apply to access to information in the integrated system.
    We proposed adding a new regulatory requirement for outreach for 
the three major grant programs. Outreach is a key statutory requirement 
of these programs. We proposed in Sec.  1351.20(d) that grantees 
perform outreach to locate runaway and homeless youth, and to 
coordinate activities with other organizations serving the same or 
similar clients.
    Comment: We received several comments on these provisions. One 
commenter was strongly supportive and raised no issues. One commenter 
asked what expectation we had for Basic Center grantees. One commenter 
pointed out that outreach efforts are needed to ensure that vulnerable 
youth, including LGBTQ youth, are made aware of available services, and 
that training related to special populations such as these that is 
culturally and linguistically appropriate is important. Another 
commenter suggested coordinated outreach and services with Continuums 
of Care, child welfare, and law enforcement.
    Response: While the roles and level of effort of each type of 
grantee will differ, the Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street 
Outreach Program grantees are all expected to perform at least some 
outreach services. We point out that local coordination is also part of 
this requirement, and that for this as well there will be differences 
among types of grantees as to how that is performed and the appropriate 
level of effort. With regards to the question of what expectations for 
outreach will be for Basic Center grantees, under section 312(c) and 
(e) of the Act, Basic Center grantees must outreach to youth if the 
grantees are providing street-based or drug abuse services. Beyond 
these statutory requirements, outreach by Basic Centers grantees is 
appropriate in other circumstances as well. Therefore, we maintained 
this requirement for Basic Center Programs. Additionally, in the final 
rule, based on comments related to coordination of activities and 
services, we specified that coordination should occur with 
organizations, such as child welfare agencies, juvenile justice 
systems, schools, and Continuums of Care, as defined by HUD.
    We requested comments on the following two proposed requirements. 
First, under paragraph (e), we proposed that grantees shall develop and 
implement a plan for addressing youth who have run away from foster 
care placement or correctional institutions and for returning those 
youth appropriately to the responsible organizations, in accordance 
with federal, state, or local laws or regulations that apply to these 
situations.
    Second, under Sec.  1351.20(f) of the proposed rule, we proposed 
that grantees take steps to ensure that youth who are under the legal 
jurisdiction of

[[Page 93050]]

the juvenile justice or child welfare systems receive services from 
those systems until such time as they are released from the 
jurisdiction of those systems. The purpose of these provisions is to 
provide a clear demarcation between services that are the legal and 
financial responsibility of other programs, and services that are the 
responsibility of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
    Comment: We received six comments on Sec.  1351.20(e) and (f). One 
commenter asked what federal, state, and local laws we were 
referencing. One commenter questioned whether returning a child to 
foster care or the criminal justice system would always be in the best 
interest of the child. The commenter proposed language that essentially 
said the return need not be immediate, but that grantees had to act in 
accordance with applicable laws. Another commenter asked about the case 
where a youth might be eligible for child welfare services but was not 
currently enrolled.
    Response: Regarding applicable laws, the federal law likely to 
apply in such cases is title IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, 
implemented through regulations at 45 CFR parts 1355 through 1357. The 
programs authorized by these statutes are operated through the states 
and tribes. There are various state and local juvenile justice and 
foster care laws in all states and some older youth may also be subject 
to laws that apply to adults. In addition to federal law, grantees are 
expected to know the applicable laws and systems in their own 
jurisdictions and to coordinate with the responsible agencies. One 
specific example of a possible problem given by the commenter was of a 
child fleeing from an abusive foster home. In such cases, the foster 
care agency would be legally responsible for finding an alternative, 
safe foster home placement. As to the criminal justice system, grantees 
that failed to act in accordance with state law (e.g., regarding 
escapees from correctional institutions) could find themselves in 
violation of criminal statutes. We have not changed our proposed 
language to address these suggestions in the final rule because, as a 
practical matter, RHY grantees have little or no discretion in such 
situations. However, in paragraph (e) we have incorporated the 
statutory requirement in section 312(b)(4) of the Act which requires 
Basic Center grantees to develop a plan that ensures the return of 
youth who have run away from correctional institutions to those 
institutions. In all cases, grantees are responsible for seeking 
outcomes that are in the best interest of the child and are expected to 
do so within the legal and regulatory frameworks in which they operate. 
This includes, for example, seeking to place youth into child welfare 
systems if reuniting the family is not reasonably possible. All of 
these steps are relevant to the aftercare requirement that follows.
    We proposed to codify three provisions focused on the need to serve 
youth outside the program, which have previously been included in RHY 
funding opportunity announcements. Under proposed Sec.  1351.20(g), 
which in the final rule is Sec.  1351.26(a), grantees shall develop and 
implement an aftercare plan, covering at least six months, to stay in 
contact with youth who leave the program in order to ensure their 
ongoing safety. A youth's individual aftercare plan shall outline what 
services were provided, including appropriate referrals for needed 
health care services, the youth's housing status, and the rate of 
participation and completion of the services in the plan at three 
months and at six months after exiting the program. In Sec.  
1351.20(h), which in the final rule is Sec.  1351.26(b), we proposed 
that grantees shall develop and implement a plan for health care 
service referrals for youth during the service and aftercare periods. 
Under proposed Sec.  1351.20(i), which in the final rule is Sec.  
1351.26(c), we proposed that grantees shall assist youth to stay 
connected with their schools or to obtain appropriate educational 
services. This includes coordination with McKinney-Vento school 
district liaisons, designated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless 
Assistance Act, to assure that runaway and homeless youth are provided 
information about the services available under that Act. Under that 
law, which is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the 
education of homeless children in U.S. public schools, school districts 
are required to provide equal access to the same free, appropriate 
public education provided to other children and youth and to undertake 
additional steps as needed for such access. For example, school 
districts must identify potential barriers to the education of homeless 
youth, and homeless youth may not be segregated from other students. We 
received almost 24 unique comments on these proposed requirements, some 
of which represented individuals, while others represented several 
hundred individuals and/or organizations.
    Comment: More than six unique comments raised an issue as to 
whether it is appropriate under Sec.  1351.20(g) of the proposed rule 
to require Street Outreach Program grantees to provide aftercare plans. 
Several commenters noted that the Act does not include such a 
requirement for these grantees. Commenters argued that these grantees 
rarely had more than brief contact with youth, and were expected to 
refer them to other service providers (including Basic Center and 
Transitional Housing grantees) who would be both qualified and 
responsible for developing such plans.
    Response: We agree that this requirement should not apply to the 
Street Outreach Program and have revised the final rule to exclude 
those grantees from its coverage.
    Comment: Another six unique commenters, some of which represent 
numerous individuals and organizations, on Sec.  1351.20(g) of the 
proposed rule, which in the final rule is Sec.  1351.26(a), stated that 
six months was far too long to continue a youth's aftercare plan and to 
stay in contact with youth who leave the program. Commenters expressed 
concern that youth would no longer be participating in the program and 
it would be difficult or impossible to contact them six months after 
exiting the programs. One commenter suggested limiting the aftercare 
requirement to two months.
    Response: In response to comments raising concerns as to whether 
most youth can be contacted in six months, we have modified the final 
rule to provide for such contacts and documentation of service 
completion at three months after exiting the BCP and TLP programs. 
Three months will provide youth the time they need to transition out of 
the RHY program and adjust to their new housing arrangement while 
avoiding the challenges associated with the longer six month timeframe. 
While a two month after care plan was also proposed by one commenter, 
we did not feel this was enough time to allow youth to fully adjust 
after their participation in an RHY program.
    Comment: More than six unique commenters, all from service 
providers or organizations representing service providers, on Sec.  
1351.20(g) of the proposed rule, which in the final rule is Sec.  
1351.26(a), stated that the overall requirement of providing aftercare 
services for six months after a child's exit from the program was 
unduly burdensome and cost prohibitive to meet. Several of these 
pointed out that such follow-up would be impossible in several common 
situations that affect many of those served. For example: Youth cannot 
be located after leaving program; youth can be located but refuse to 
stay in contact; foster care agencies taking over service planning

[[Page 93051]]

and refusing to share information or allow contact; or parental refusal 
to allow further contact. Several suggested that the requirement be 
limited to those clients who were in contact with the program for some 
minimum length of stay, such as two weeks for the Basic Center Program 
and three months for the Transitional Living Program. These same 
commenters suggested that the requirement be limited to those clients 
who requested and consented to follow-up. One commenter endorsed the 
requirements of the proposed rule and argued it should be even 
stronger, by incentivizing programs to build strong relationships with 
other service providers in the community and leverage those to better 
client outcomes. One commenter said this was an important area for 
improvement, but that ``we struggle with keeping track of youth after 
they leave our program,'' a problem cited in a number of comments. One 
commenter suggested that the requirement be changed to offering youth 
aftercare services and documenting those actually provided, with 
ratings only on participation rates. Another commenter said that the 
grantee calls all youth and their guardians at four to six weeks post-
exit, but is able to locate only about 25 percent due to ``ever 
changing residences and cell phone numbers.'' Yet another comment in 
the same vein said that its success rate in contacting youth was only 
about 5 percent at six months, and that those who actually needed 
assistance generally contacted the center themselves. Finally, one 
commenter questioned whether grantees had the resources to follow the 
youth into such systems or upon release from such systems.
    Response: We are persuaded by these comments that the requirement 
as proposed was unrealistically burdensome. The revisions to exclude 
the Street Outreach Program and to require contact only after three 
months will reduce the burden substantially. We have revised the final 
rule to require that such plans be developed for all BCP and TLP youth, 
and included in exit counseling, covering at least three months after 
the youth leaves the program. Grantees should follow up with youth 
during and at the end of the three month timeframe. We understand that 
it may be difficult to contact 100 percent of youth, but grantees 
should attempt to contact all youth within this period.
    In addition, we have added the requirement in section 312(b)(5) of 
the Act that, as possible, Basic Center program grantees should provide 
counseling and aftercare services to youth who are returned beyond the 
state in which a runaway and homeless youth services is located, as 
possible.
    Comment: Three commenters suggested that the requirement in Sec.  
1351.20(h) of the proposed rule regarding access to health care 
services also include connecting youth with organizations that assist 
in enrolling in public or private health insurance. One commenter asked 
how health care would be paid for and objected to the expense of a new 
health care service plan. One commenter said that the text of this 
provision should not include aftercare, since that was covered under 
the previous provision, arguing that this was duplicative, confusing, 
and potentially very costly if it were read to require a detailed 
referral plan for each client's specific services. Another commenter 
said that the aftercare requirement should include not only health care 
services, but also health insurance.
    Response: We think the idea of including referrals for health 
insurance advice (where appropriate) in the health services plan is a 
useful addition to the planning requirement. Many sources of 
information which can assist in providing insurance information are 
available to youth. Key among these resources are the state Medicaid 
agency and local Navigators and Application Assisters established under 
the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some youth will be insured under an 
existing parental plan funded through employer insurance (such plans 
cover some families). In all states, youth are eligible for Medicaid if 
they are in a household with income below 133 percent of the federal 
poverty level (FPL) and meet other non-financial eligibility 
requirements, such as citizenship or eligible immigration status and 
state residence. It is also important to note that most states cover 
children under 19 at higher income levels. Youth over 19 may be 
eligible for Medicaid coverage in a variety of eligibility categories; 
their eligibility for Medicaid may also depend on whether they live in 
a state that has chosen to expand Medicaid for adults age 19 to 65. In 
addition, some youth may have sufficient income (above 100% of the FPL) 
to receive financial assistance to purchase coverage through the Health 
Insurance Marketplace. We are not asking grantees to plan specific 
services for each youth, but to plan for and, as appropriate, provide 
referrals to health care providers, such as health centers and other 
service providers for low-income and vulnerable patients, with or 
without insurance. Grantees should also consider additional referrals 
as appropriate. We are also not asking grantees to manage or finance 
the provision of health care. Accordingly, we have revised the final 
rule text to include health insurance referrals in the health services 
plan. In most cases, this would be handled through family counseling 
and reunification services since the great majority of parents have 
family insurance. In this regard, we note that the great majority of 
family health insurance policies now cover children up to age 26. Also, 
youth under 26 who age-out of Foster Care and are enrolled in Medicaid 
at the time that they age out are eligible for Medicaid from their 
state, with no income eligibility requirements. We did not eliminate 
the reference to aftercare in the rule, as we consider it critical that 
referrals to health services should extend into the aftercare period. 
We have also revised the text to exempt Street Outreach Program 
grantees from this requirement, per the discussion above.
    Comment: We received several comments on Sec.  1351.20(i) of the 
proposed rule regarding schooling and education. One commenter asked 
that we add a mandated service linkage to employment and training 
programs, since these provide a path towards economic self-sufficiency. 
Two commenters asked that we add college as an option and specifically 
referenced grantees making youth aware of the Free Application for 
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) service. The commenter noted that FAFSA 
does not necessarily require parental tax information precisely because 
it recognizes that there are situations where that is not feasible.
    Response: These are valid suggestions. While returning to school 
will be the typical pathway for runaway and homeless youth, some of 
them (particularly older youth) will prefer job training or employment 
and some will have already graduated from high school. Many federally-
funded and state and local job placement and training programs are 
aimed at school dropouts or recent graduates. College is an obvious 
option for many youth. For many, employment and education can often be 
managed together, to the benefit of youth with little or no other 
source of income. We have modified the text of the final rule to cover 
these options. We have also changed the text to exempt Street Outreach 
Program grantees from this requirement, and to make the language 
parallel with the language on health care services.
    The Act, at sections 312(b)(13) and 322(a)(16), specifically 
requires grantees to develop emergency plans. We proposed to adopt this 
requirement under Sec.  1351.20(j) of the proposed rule by requiring 
that grantees develop and

[[Page 93052]]

document plans that address steps to be taken in case of a local or 
national situation that poses risk to the health and safety of staff 
and youth. Emergency preparedness plans should, at a minimum, include 
routine preventative maintenance of facilities (e.g., fire 
extinguishers and alarms checked, furnace serviced) as well as 
preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The plan should contain 
strategies for addressing evacuation, security, food, medical supplies, 
and notification of youths' families, as appropriate. In the event of 
an evacuation due to specific facility issues, such as a fire, loss of 
utilities, or mandatory evacuation by the local authorities, an 
alternative location needs to be designated and included in the plan. 
Grantees must immediately provide notification to their project officer 
and grants officer when evacuation plans are executed. ACF has an 
Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response that can 
provide technical assistance, in collaboration with FYSB/ACYF and the 
ACF Regions, to support grantee development of emergency preparedness 
plans.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include suicide prevention and 
post-intervention plans in the requirement for emergency planning under 
Sec.  1351.20(j) of the proposed rule.
    Response: We did not make this change because this provision is 
intended to cover emergencies that affect entire facilities or all or 
most clients, not individual health crises. We already require that 
individual client treatment plans cover both physical and mental 
health, which is inclusive of suicide prevention.
    In Sec.  1351.20(k), which is numbered Sec.  1351.23(h) in this 
final rule, we clarify that shelters operated by grantees must meet any 
applicable state or local licensure requirements, and that grantees 
determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer clients also 
meet such requirements. We did not propose to establish as a federal 
requirement that grantees meet any other state or local laws.
    Comment: One comment stated that ACF should develop guidance for 
cases where such licensure requirements conflicted with 
nondiscrimination or other standards established by these rules or 
other HHS requirements.
    Response: In the event there appears to be a conflict between 
federal law or regulations and state or local licensing standards, we 
will handle these on a case-by-case basis through monitoring and 
regular contact with grantees, since licensing laws differ in every 
state and jurisdiction. Based on this case-by-case approach, we did not 
amend the final rule to respond to this comment.
    Comment: One commenter asked how we proposed to monitor the 
requirement of Sec.  1351.20(k) that shelters operated by grantees meet 
any applicable state or local licensure requirements, and that grantees 
determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer clients also 
meet such requirements. The commenter also asked how the federal 
government would know whether a state requirement existed or had been 
met.
    Response: Our regional staff will review licensure issues as part 
of their compliance reviews and monitoring visits. FOAs may include 
requiring an agency to provide documentation of a valid license, as 
well as coordination with the state or local agency when licensing is 
in question. In addition, if a facility is found by a state or local 
agency to fail licensure requirements, the state or local agency will 
presumably act to impose proper sanctions. Likewise, grantees 
themselves have huge incentives to meet state licensure requirements 
not only to remain open, but also because that is a condition of grant 
award and there are sanctions that can be levied for non-compliance, 
including loss of funding and debarment from future awards (see non-
procurement debarment, which is second on our list of applicable 
federal regulations).
    We have revised the regulatory language to require grantees to 
report to HHS instances when they fail to meet licensing requirements 
or lose their license. The rule now states, ``grantees shall promptly 
report to HHS instances in which shelters are cited for failure to meet 
licensure or related requirements, or lose licensure. For grantee-
operated facilities, failure to meet any applicable state or local 
legal requirements as a condition of operation may be grounds for grant 
termination''.
    Under Sec.  1351.20(l), which is numbered Sec.  1351.23(j) in this 
final rule, we initially proposed to require that all employees and 
volunteers be subject to a broad range of background checks for 
criminality and suitability (see the definition of background check). 
We also proposed to require that all adult host homes occupants be 
subjected to criminal and child abuse checks.
    Comment: One commenter suggested adding consultants as individuals 
who should be subject to background checks. Several commenters objected 
to subjecting volunteers to the same check as employees (e.g., why 
employment records or driving records for volunteers?) or argued that 
the proposed definition was ambiguous as to what was required for 
volunteers. In particular, several commenters pointed out that many 
volunteers may be one-time attendees at particular events that some 
staff and volunteers may not work directly with youth, that some 
volunteers may not have unsupervised contact with youth, and 
recommended exemptions in cases such as these. As examples, volunteers 
might be used to cook hot meals on holidays, might be guest speakers, 
or might visit as members of a community group.
    Response: We agree with these points. We have modified the text of 
the final rule, as described below, to clarify that for volunteers, 
employees, consultants, and contractors, who have regular unsupervised 
contact with individual youth, and all adults who reside in or operate 
host homes, a background check includes an examination of criminal 
records, sex offender registries, a request for child abuse and neglect 
history, and any other checks required under state or tribal law.
    Comment: Several commenters asked whether the driving record check 
would apply only to those who transport youth. One commenter pointed 
out that some kinds of criminal backgrounds do not pose serious risks 
of harm to the grantee or clients, and asked for clarification that 
employment of such persons (who might have committed minor crimes as 
youth) not be prohibited. Several commenters noted that there was 
ambiguity as to what kind of national check might be required and 
several pointed out that at least one state performed an out-of-state 
check only for states in which the person has recently lived.
    Response: We agree that most of these comments raise valid points 
and have made several changes in the final rule. First, we have revised 
the text at Sec.  1351.22(j) in this final rule to read that grantees 
shall have a plan, procedures, and standards for ensuring background 
checks on all employees, contractors, volunteers and consultants who 
have regular and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the 
grantee, and on all adults who reside in or operate host homes. The 
plans, procedures and standards must identify background check findings 
that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment to 
provide services for which assistance is made available in accordance 
with this part. This provides grantees' discretion for the kinds of 
volunteer help that the commenters identified, and discretion to reduce 
the scope of the background check for those volunteers who do not work 
directly with youth. It also gives

[[Page 93053]]

flexibility to grantees to avoid the time and trouble of background 
checks for job applicants who will not be offered employment for other 
reasons. We agree with the commenter who pointed out that consultants 
may take on duties similar to employees, perhaps involving unsupervised 
contact with youth, and should therefore be subject to background 
checks. We also added new provisions to Sec.  1351.23(j) to clarify 
that programs are required to obtain state or tribal criminal history 
records with fingerprint checks, federal criminal history records with 
fingerprints (to the extent FSYB determines this to be practicable and 
specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is 
applicable to a grantee's award), a sex offender registries check, and 
a child abuse and neglect registry check (to the extent FSYB determines 
this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding 
Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award).
    We point out that the rule also requires training in a number of 
subjects, including the administration and use of background checks 
that will cover cases such as these. Also, while we note that the 
requirement in the rule does not propose a specific standard or 
criterion for ``passing'' a background check, grantees should have a 
set of ``passing'' criteria in place. In this regard, we note there are 
issues of fiduciary stewardship such as potential embezzlement, not 
just crimes such as rape or assault that may be identified by 
background checks.
    In the final rule, we did not limit background checks to the state 
of the grantee, as suggested by several commenters. Instead we are 
requiring state or tribal criminal history records including 
fingerprint checks as well as Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal 
history records including fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB 
determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a 
Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's 
award. The federal background check will provide RHY providers with 
critical information about both in-state and out-of-state histories of 
prospective employees and volunteers. Criminal activity may not be 
limited to one state, and not all states share information through 
reciprocal agreements. As such, limiting a background check to only a 
single state could miss important criminal history. We also are aware 
that there may be complications or challenges with securing federal 
background checks. The background check requirements also include a 
child abuse and neglect state registry check (to the extent FSYB 
determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in a 
Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's 
award), sex offender registries checks, and other checks required by 
state or local law. The essence of the final requirement is that 
grantees are responsible for developing plans and procedures that 
reasonably protect youth while minimizing unnecessary costs and burden 
while allowing for effective services.
    Under proposed Sec.  1351.20(m), which is numbered Sec.  1351.23(a) 
in this final rule, positive youth development (PYD), which has been a 
central framework of the program for years, would be required. PYD 
emphasizes:
     Healthy messages to adolescents about their bodies, 
behaviors, interpersonal relationships, and interactions;
     Safe and structured places for teens to study, recreate, 
and socialize;
     Strong relationships with adult role models;
     Skill development in literacy competence, work readiness, 
and social skills; and
     Opportunities for youth to serve others and build self-
esteem.
    Runaway and Homeless Youth projects that adopt these principles 
provide the youth they serve with opportunities for positive use of 
time, for positive self-expression and self-development, and for 
constructive civic and social engagement. Accordingly, we proposed 
under this section to require PYD on a program-wide basis. Under this 
paragraph, grantees must utilize and integrate into the operation of 
their projects the principles of positive youth development, including 
healthy messages, safe and structured places, adult role models, skill 
development, and opportunities to serve others.
    Comment: We received one comment on this section. That commenter 
praised this provision but pointed out that LGBTQ youth were at greater 
risk than heterosexual peers for a variety of physical and mental 
problems, and could therefore benefit disproportionately from skills 
and messages associated with positive youth development services. This 
comment asked that ACF provide additional non-regulatory guidance on 
messaging to assist such youth in developing identity formation and 
acceptance.
    Response: Our Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical 
Assistance Center provides extensive tools and technical assistance, 
including those aimed at LGBTQ youth (see, for example, our recent 
``Research Review of Evidence-Based Practices for RHY in the Doman of 
LGBTQ'' at http://www.rhyttac.net/sites/default/files/resources/EBP%20Literature%20Review%20for%20LGBTQ%20Services.pdf). We will 
continue to work with stakeholders and researchers to develop 
information and guidance to improve services to these youth. We have 
made no changes to this provision.
    We preface Sec.  1351.23(a) of this final rule with the statement 
that there are numerous other possible requirements related to positive 
youth development that could have been included in this section of the 
final rule. We did not propose such additional requirements for three 
reasons. First, it is difficult to craft requirements that do not 
unduly constrain grantee flexibility by imposing a ``one size fits 
all'' approach that does not in fact reasonably apply to particular 
grantees, particular situations, or particular staff. Second, such 
requirements almost by necessity create burdens, e.g. for recordkeeping 
or reporting to demonstrate that grantees meet the requirement. Third, 
we use funding opportunity announcements to further clarify 
requirements and guidance for particular grant recipients. These 
announcements provide the flexibility to add particular requirements 
(including temporary priorities) without going through a rulemaking 
process and, more importantly, allow far more flexibility to adapt as 
needed over time. For instance, the 2014 funding opportunity 
announcement for the Basic Center Program (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/view/HHS-2014-ACF-ACYF-CY-0792) gives examples of 
practices to follow or services that agencies can provide. This 
language allows grantees the option to provide most but not all of 
these services. This would allow, for example, for the situation in 
which another agency provides a key service and the grantee can use 
referral arrangements. Particularly in a program dealing with such 
complex problems, and given the extreme variation in service 
availability from other providers in particular localities, we believe 
that funding opportunity announcements are often a preferable vehicle 
for encouraging certain practices and partnerships.
    To this end, we have included language in Sec.  1351.22(l) in this 
final rule, stating that grantees must provide such other services and 
meet such additional requirements as HHS determines are necessary to 
carry out the purposes of the statute, as appropriate to the services 
and activities for which they are funded. These services and 
requirements will be articulated in the funding opportunity

[[Page 93054]]

announcements and other guidance issued by FYSB. This includes 
operational instructions and standards of execution determined by the 
Secretary or Secretarial designees to be necessary to properly perform 
or document meeting the requirements applicable to particular programs 
or projects. We received no comments on this provision, and it is 
retained unchanged in the final rule.
    Language has been moved from Sec.  1351.22(b) to Sec.  1351.23(m) 
as it applies to all programs, stating that nothing in this rule gives 
the federal government control over staffing and personnel decisions. 
This will be interpreted to mean that FYSB will not make direct hiring 
decisions. At the same time, rules regarding nondiscrimination and 
background checks, and other requirements still apply.
    In addition to the requirements that all RHY grantees must meet, 
there are additional requirements specific to each of the three core 
RHY programs which stem from the Act and the unique purposes of each 
program.
    We proposed to create a new Sec.  1351.21 ``What are the additional 
requirements that the Basic Center Program grantees must meet?'' This 
section addresses the additional program specific requirements that are 
central to the purposes of the Basic Center Program. First, we proposed 
under paragraph (a) that all Basic Center grantees shall have an intake 
procedure that is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to all 
youth seeking services and temporary shelter. The intake process must, 
at all hours, enable staff to address and respond to young people's 
immediate needs for crisis counseling, food, clothing, shelter, and 
health care services. The second proposed requirement under paragraph 
(b) describes the primary function described under the Act for Basic 
Center grantees, requiring that grantees shall provide, either directly 
or through arrangements, access to temporary shelter 24 hours a day and 
7 days a week. Any grantee that did not provide temporary living 
services to eligible youth would not be meeting an essential function 
of the program (section 311(a)(2) of the Act). Note that this 
requirement allows for a combination of facilities that are directly 
operated by the grantee, operated by others, or accessible through 
referral. Third, under paragraph (c), we proposed to require that Basic 
Center grantees provide case management, counseling and referral 
services that meet client needs and that encourage, when in the best 
interests of youth particularly with regard to safety, the involvement 
of parents or legal guardians. Under paragraph (d), we proposed to 
require that grantees provide additional core support services to 
clients both residentially and non-residentially, as appropriate. The 
core services must include case planning, skill building, recreation 
and leisure activities, and aftercare. Again, this is an essential 
function of the program established by the Act and codification in this 
final rules does not require changes in program operations. Under 
paragraph (e), we proposed to require that grantees make contact with 
the parent(s), legal guardian or other relatives of each client within 
72 hours of entering the program with a ``best interest of the youth'' 
exception allowed for disclosure of the location if additional 
information is needed to ensure the safety of the youth. The ``best 
interest of the youth'' would be defined by the state child welfare 
legal requirements with respect to child protective services and law 
enforcement mandated reporting. Finally, under paragraph (f), we 
proposed that grantees be subject to any additional requirements that 
are included in the FOA. We received several comments on these 
proposals and made revisions as appropriate.
    Comment: We received two comments on the proposed requirement in 
Sec.  1351.21(a) and (b) of the proposed rule for 24/7 assistance to 
youth seeking shelter, crisis counseling, shelter, health care, and 
other services. One commenter strongly endorsed the proposal. One 
commenter on crisis counseling asked for clarification to indicate that 
this should be interpreted broadly to include immediate needs for 
suicide prevention counseling and treatment as well as other immediate 
mental health crises.
    Response: ``Health care services'' as proposed covers both physical 
and mental health needs and services, whether related to suicide 
prevention or to other physical or mental problems. The final rule text 
is unchanged from the proposal.
    Comment: We received two comments on the proposed requirement in 
Sec.  1351.21(c) of the proposed rule for referral services that meet 
client needs and that encourage the involvement of parents or legal 
guardians when in the best interests of the child, particularly taking 
into account safety. One commenter endorsed the proposal and pointed 
out that a youth may change his mind on parental contact, recommended 
use of best practices, and suggested that child welfare be contacted 
before parents to be sure no safety or other issues existed. The other 
commenter also endorsed the proposal and requested clarification that 
safety address not only physical but also mental health, arguing that 
parental involvement may create a hostile environment detrimental to 
LGBTQ youth.
    Response: This requirement deals with both physical and mental 
safety, for both LGBTQ clients and all other clients where safety 
threats may exist. As to contacting child welfare before the parents, 
that will sometimes be appropriate but will depend on the judgment of 
the staff according to individual cases (indeed, in some cases law 
enforcement systems will need to be contacted first). Normally, 
parental involvement will be first. We agree that the situation can be 
fluid and that the views of the youth can change. Again, staff will 
have to make case-by-case judgments over time. The final rule text is 
unchanged.
    Comment: We received one comment on Sec.  1351.21(c) of the 
proposed rule asking that the term ``trauma-informed'' be added as a 
specific reference to counseling under the Basic Center grantee 
requirements. This same comment was made on the corresponding 
provisions for Street Outreach, Transitional Living, and Maternity 
Group Homes (MGH) Program grantees.
    Response: Counseling is understood to deal with any serious issues 
facing each youth, including trauma, among others, and we agree with 
the comment that programs should use a trauma informed and evidenced-
based approach when such evidence is reliably available. Additionally, 
we require training and technical assistance materials be very clear on 
this point and that they provide guidance on trauma issues. We also 
note that our definition of screening and assessment refers 
specifically to trauma and the potential need for in-depth diagnostic 
assessments and services. We have revised paragraph (c) to include an 
emphasis on trauma-informed care and evidenced-based approaches that 
must be part of the core services provided. In addition to this 
requirement, we added a corresponding performance standard designed to 
measure each grantee's ability to ensure that youth receive counseling 
services that are trauma informed and match their individual needs.
    We received no comments on Sec.  1351.21(d) of the proposed rule 
and have left it unchanged in this final rule.
    Comment: We received two comments on Sec.  1351.21(e) of the 
proposed rule. One commenter argued against creating the 72-hour 
standard and recommended that we defer to state law in deciding whether 
or when to contact parents.

[[Page 93055]]

This commenter also argued that missing children's databases, including 
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, should be 
checked within 72 hours of the youth entering the program. This 
commenter pointed out that fear of contact with child welfare, law 
enforcement, or parents is a major barrier to youth seeking services, 
and that one research study found it to be the most important barrier. 
The other commenter raised three concerns. First, the proposed language 
does not deal with cases where the parent cannot be located or will not 
respond. Second, the comment argues, we should defer to state law both 
as to timing of parental notification and also as to the ``best 
interest'' decision. Third, the commenter disagreed with preamble 
language stating, ``best interest of the youth would be defined by the 
state child welfare legal requirements with respect to child protective 
services and law enforcement mandated reporting.'' This commenter gave 
examples where ``best interest'' cases might arise even when mandatory 
reporting to state agencies is not required, such as threats of harm to 
the youth.
    Response: As these comments demonstrate, this issue area is complex 
as well as important. Section 312(b)(3) of the Act says that Basic 
Center grantees ``shall develop adequate plans for contacting the 
parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the safe return of 
the youth according to the best interests of the youth.'' To align 
better with the statute and to address the comments raised in the 
proposed rule, we are amending the proposed rule language to say that 
grantees ``shall, as soon as feasible and no later than 72 hours of the 
youth entering the program, contact the parents, legal guardians or 
other relatives of each youth according to the best interests of the 
youth. If a grantee determines that it is not in the best interest of 
the client to contact the parents, legal guardian or other relatives of 
the client, they must (i) inform another adult identified by the child, 
(ii) document why it is not in the client's best interest to contact 
the parent, legal guardian or other relative and (iii) send a copy of 
the documentation to the regional program specialist for review.''
    Additionally, if the grantee is unable to locate, or the youth 
refuses to disclose the contact information of, the parent(s), legal 
guardian or other relative of the client within 72 hours of entering 
the program the grantee will follow the protocols set forth in 
paragraph (e).
    Examples of when it would not be in the best interest of the child 
to contact the parents include instances of severe physical or 
emotional abuse, or fear of harm to the child.
    Regarding the 72-hour timeframe, based on the past practice of our 
grantees, it has been determined that making a notification within 72 
hours allows grantees time to assess whether contacting parents will be 
in the best interest of a child. However, we encourage grantees to 
contact parents or guardians sooner if appropriate and possible.
    Comment: We received one comment on Sec.  1351.21(f) regarding our 
intention to use FOAs to impose any additional requirements. The 
commenter expressed concern over possible misinterpretations of intent 
by grant application reviewers.
    Response: The proposed rule language is retained in the final rule 
without changes because FOAs are routinely updated and grant 
application reviewers are fully trained on new provisions in a 
systematic way. Additionally, contact information for RHY program staff 
is provided on each FOA and grantees are always encouraged to ask 
questions about the announcement. While ACF/FYSB may not necessarily 
provide individual responses to every inquiry, responses, when 
provided, will be posted and made available to all applicants. 
Responses may be given if information is included the FOA. However, if 
questions do not pertain to information found in the FOA, ACF has a 
policy of not providing direct guidance or instruction in the 
development and writing of an application.
    We also proposed a new Sec.  1351.22 ``What are the additional 
requirements that the Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group 
Home grantees must meet?'' to include specific requirements for core 
services to be provided by the programs. Under paragraph (a), we 
proposed requiring that grantees provide transitional living 
arrangements and additional core services including case planning/
management, counseling, skill building, consumer education, referral to 
needed social and health care services, and education, recreation and 
leisure activities, aftercare, and, as appropriate to grantees 
providing maternity-related services, parenting skills, child care, and 
child nutrition. Additionally, under paragraph (b), we proposed 
requiring that Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home 
grantees be subject to any additional requirements included in the FOA. 
We received no comments on this section and make no changes in the 
final rule.
    We proposed to create a new Sec.  1351.23 ``What are the additional 
requirements that the Street Outreach Program grantees must meet?'' The 
proposed requirements were specific to the purposes of the Street 
Outreach Program. We proposed under paragraph (a) to require that SOP 
grantees provide services designed to assist clients in leaving the 
streets, in making healthy choices, and in building trusting 
relationships in areas where targeted youth congregate. Under paragraph 
(b), we proposed to require SOP grantees provide directly or by 
referral other core services to their clients. Finally, under paragraph 
(c), we proposed to require that SOP grantees be subject to any 
additional requirements included in the FOA. We received no comments on 
this section other than those previously addressed, and make no changes 
in the final rule.

Subpart D. What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific 
standards?

    Section 386A of the Act requires performance standards be 
established for Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach 
Programs. In addition to requirements that apply to all Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Programs, we proposed to establish a new Subpart that 
creates specific standards for each major type of local services grant, 
with a focus on performance-based standards. Performance standards 
focus directly on program outcomes. More specifically, we explained 
that performance standards are focused on four core outcomes: (1) 
Social and emotional well-being; (2) permanent connections; (3) 
education or employment; and (4) stable housing. Research indicates 
that improvements on risk and protective factors can serve as pathways 
to get to better outcomes in these four core areas.12 13 14 
These four core outcomes are expected to lead to healthy and productive 
transitions to adulthood for homeless youth. In the proposed rule, some 
of the performance standards included specific quantifiable metrics.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ Kidd, S., & Shahar, G. (2008). Resilience in homeless 
youth: The key role of self-esteem. American Journal of 
Orthopsychiatry, 78 (2), 163.
    \13\ Milburn, N.G., Jane Rotheram-Borus, M., Batterham, P., 
Brumback, B., Rosenthal, D., & Mallett, S. (2005). Predictors of 
close family relationships over one year among homeless young 
people. Journal of Adolescence, 28(2), 263-275.
    \14\ Milburn, N., Liang, L., Lee, S., Roteram-Borus, M., 
Rosenthal, D., Mallett, S., et al. (2009). Who is doing well? A 
typology of newly homeless adolescents. Journal of Community 
Psychology, 37 (2), 135-147.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Comment: We received several comments regarding difficulties with 
requiring grantees to contact the parent(s), legal guardian, or other 
relatives of clients within 72 hours of

[[Page 93056]]

entering the program to inform them that the youth is safe, with a 
determination to be made on a case-by-case basis of whether it is in 
the best interests of the youth to notify the parent(s), legal guardian 
or other relatives of the location of the youth until further 
information has been gathered to assure safety.
    Response: After reviewing these comments and the entire final rule, 
we decided to remove the 72-hour requirement from the performance 
standards since it is already included in Sec.  1351.24(e). It was 
clear that this was duplicative and unnecessary since the same language 
was already included in the Basic Center Program requirements.
    Comment: We received two comments related to health care services. 
One commenter asked that we add health insurance to this section. The 
other commenter asked that we revise the proposed language to clarify 
that the referral plan is for the program as a whole, not for each 
individual client.
    Response: We have revised the language to make clear that a 
referral plan shall, as appropriate, cover referral for insurance 
services as well as for health care services. Individualized plans are 
required. We have, however, modified the language to make clear that 
the grantee responsibility is to make referrals, not to arrange or 
monitor the actual provision of specific medical care services, 
insurance, or insurance coverage. Those functions are the 
responsibility of the health care providers themselves, and the youth 
who are their patients, not of our grantees.
    The regulatory provisions concerning pre-natal care, well-baby 
exams, and immunizations for Maternity Group Home grantees are fully 
adopted without changes in this final rule.
    Comment: Almost all commenters addressing performance standards for 
the Basic Center Program welcomed the idea of performance standards but 
criticized the proposed 90 percent standard in Sec.  1351.30(b) for 
youth transitioning to safe and appropriate settings when exiting Basic 
Center Program settings. Many commenters said that 90 percent was an 
unrealistically high goal, and proposed lower standards, such as 75 
percent. One commenter mentioned the option of a corrective action plan 
at the lower percent level. Another suggested imposing the standard 
only for youth who stay enrolled for more than seven days. Another 
pointed out that some youth would leave as soon as they are informed of 
mandatory reporting to state agencies. One commenter said it was not 
within the grantee's control if youth simply run from the center to an 
unknown destination. One commenter questioned whether the preamble was 
accurately describing past achievement rates near 90 percent. Several 
commenters were concerned that the proposed standard would reduce the 
willingness of grantees to enroll the hardest to serve clients, and 
suggested adjusting performance measures based on participant 
characteristics to create incentives to target services to the most 
vulnerable youth. Several commenters said that without more flexible 
standards for safe exits, the proposed standard would be impossible to 
achieve. Several commenters said that without better exit criteria the 
performance standard should be lowered to 60 percent. Several 
commenters pointed out that for very small centers the 90 percent 
standard could be missed by a change of just one or two youth making a 
different decision.
    We received almost twenty unique comments on the proposed 
performance standards for the Transitional Living Program. Essentially 
the same group of commenters as commented on the quantitative 
performance criteria for the Basic Center Program commented on these 
criteria for the Transitional Living Program.
    These commenters made similar or identical arguments, especially 
against the 90 percent standard for exit to safe and appropriate 
settings. Some also addressed the 45 percent standard for community 
service, and one of these criticized that standard as somewhat 
inconsistent with the program's goals of securing education, 
employment, and safe housing. This comment suggested conceptually 
different measures, such as providing youth the opportunity to perform 
community service once a month.
    Several comments to the proposed performance criteria for the 
Street Outreach Program criticized our proposal to count total contacts 
as ambiguous. For example, would contacting the same youth multiple 
times count the same as contacting multiple youth once each? One 
comment suggested that it might be possible to develop a good 
performance measure from the percentage of youth contacted that 
accepted shelter, case management, or other services. Another comment 
asked about the dividing line between a youth who was a contact and a 
youth who was a client. Another comment suggested that any such measure 
would be skewed downward in cases where the same youth was contacted 
multiple times but only accepted housing after the final encounter. 
Several comments criticized the total contacts measure as meaningless 
given the different sizes of Street Outreach Program service areas and 
the different sizes of individual programs. Two of these comments 
recommended that we adjust the measure by the population of the service 
area or by population density; the latter reflecting the presumably 
greater difficulty of reaching youth in rural areas.
    A third said the total contacts measure should be used as a 
reporting requirement, but dropped as a performance measure. One 
commenter praised the proposed numeric standard in Sec.  1351.32 and 
suggested no specific change. One commenter proposed broader measures 
such as comparing the number contacted to the estimated universe of 
runaway and homeless youth in the service area. One commenter suggested 
comparing the number contacted to the total population in the service 
area. This commenter also recommended that HHS convene SOP grantees to 
collaboratively determine what standards should be used. One commenter 
suggested collecting data on the immediate outcomes of outreach 
contacts, but not setting specific performance standards. One commenter 
mentioned the option of comparing the total number of youth contacted 
to the number accepting services and criticized it because contacting a 
single youth many times, such as 20 times, followed by that youth 
finally accepting shelter, would lead to a misleading 5 percent 
effectiveness figure.
    Response: Based on the feedback received, we have revised the 
performance standards for the Basic Center, the Transitional Living, 
and Street Outreach Programs. For the Basic Center and Transitional 
Living Programs, the performance standards are focused on outcomes: (1) 
Social and Emotional Well-being; (2) Permanent Connections; (3) 
Education or Employment; and (4) Stable Housing. We also included 
definitions of these terms in Subpart A of this rule. These definitions 
were derived directly from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 
(USICH) Federal Framework to End Youth Homelessness. The Street 
Outreach Program performance standards maintain a focus on the number 
of youth contacts completed.
    We have decided to remove the numerical metrics from the regulatory 
language for Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach 
Programs. Specific numeric metrics based on the performance standards 
will be outlined

[[Page 93057]]

in future Funding Opportunity Announcements. These numeric metrics will 
be developed using RHYMIS and HMIS data collected under existing data 
collection systems such as RHYMIS and HMIS (OMB Control Number 0970-
0123) and its successors, as well as performance progress reports (OMB 
control number 0970-0406) and its successors. This will give FYSB 
flexibility to analyze data reported by grantees and set realistic 
benchmarks over time through existing data collection and grant 
reporting methods.
    For the Street Outreach Program performance standards, we interpret 
the standard as allowing each contact with the same youth on later 
occasions to count as a new contact, but see no need to amend the 
language. Youth receiving services should be counted as clients rather 
than contacts. We will make these points clear in training and 
technical assistance materials and in the HMIS system's reporting 
directions. Finally, we appreciate the conceptual improvement of a 
percentage measure related to acceptance of services, but think that it 
would be very difficult to measure accurately in practice. We will 
explore that idea further in consultations with grantees and 
stakeholders, as a possible future improvement.
    After careful consideration of the various criticisms of and 
suggestions for improving the performance standard, we have added 
language to the end of this Street Outreach Program performance 
standards section that will determine appropriate proportions of 
contacts based on grantee staff size through existing data collection 
and grant reports. Specific numeric metrics will be outlined in future 
Funding Opportunity Announcements. FYSB will provide more specific 
guidance and training and technical assistance to grantees on 
collection and reporting data.
    In the final rule, we also added language that reinforces that 
grantees need to report data about each of the performance standards. 
This language was inconsistently incorporated into the proposed rule. 
To ensure clarity, the final rule explicitly includes language related 
to reporting within each performance standard subparagraph.
    We did not propose performance standards for technical assistance 
and other grants that do not provide direct services. We do not believe 
that support grants such as these lend themselves to across-the-board, 
outcome-oriented performance standards such as those proposed here.
Revising Performance Standards
    We proposed to create a new Sec.  1351.33 ``How and when will 
performance standards for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program be 
revised?'' We stated that for those performance standards for which 
benchmarks would not be set in the codified rule, benchmarks might be 
set in the coming years as data are collected. Additionally, we said 
that as grantees improve performance, it might be necessary to adjust 
the benchmark on a given performance standard in the coming years. 
Furthermore, we stated that as more is learned about how to improve 
outcomes, performance standards themselves might need to be modified or 
added. The rulemaking process is not conducive to making quick or on-
going adjustments.
    We did not receive comments on this section but have determined 
since publishing the proposed rule that this section is not needed 
because it does not directly relate to the responsibilities of the 
grantees. Therefore, we have deleted this section in the final rule 
text.
Effective Dates
    We proposed to create a new Sec.  1351.34 ``When Are Program-
Specific Requirements Effective?'' We proposed that grantees shall meet 
program specific requirements, as applicable, upon the effective date 
of this final rule, or starting at the beginning of the next budget 
period for the grant, whichever comes later. Since most budget periods 
begin on October 1 of each year, this means that grantees would have 
however many days there are between the issuance of final regulations 
and that date, but never less than 30 days.
    While we received no comments on this newly created section, we 
acknowledge the effective date is included as part of the regulations 
publication in the Federal Register, so there is no reason to add a 
specific section for this purpose. The section has been deleted from 
the final rule.

VII. Impact Analysis

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule contains no new information collection requirements 
because all information required in the performance standards has been 
collected by RHYMIS. The OMB Control Number for RHYMIS is 0970-0123, 
which has a current expiration date of February 28, 2018. We are 
looking to revise data standards to reduce the burden associated with 
filling out the data for the RHY program by the Spring of 2017, with 
the effective date of October 1, 2017.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary certifies that this final rule will not result in a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
We have not imposed any new requirements that will have such an effect. 
This final rule conforms to the existing statutory requirements and 
existing practices in the program. In particular, we have imposed only 
a few new processes, procedural, or documentation requirements that are 
not encompassed within the existing rule, existing FOAs, or existing 
information collection requirements. None of these will impose a 
consequential burden on grantees. Accordingly, a Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis is not required.

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Executive Order 12866 requires that regulations be reviewed to 
ensure that they are consistent with the priorities and principles set 
forth in the Executive Order. HHS has determined that this final rule 
is consistent with these priorities and principles. The Executive Order 
requires a Regulatory Impact Analysis for proposed or final rules with 
an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Nothing in this 
final rule approaches effects of this magnitude. This rule has been 
reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Congressional Review

    This rule is not a major rule (economic effects of $100 million or 
more) as defined in the Congressional Review Act.

Federalism Review

    Executive Order 13132, Federalism, requires that federal agencies 
consult with state and local government officials in the development of 
regulatory policies with federalism implications. This rule will not 
have substantial direct impact on the states, on the relationship 
between the National Government and the states, or on the distribution 
of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. 
Therefore, in accordance with the Executive Order we have determined 
that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

Family Impact Review

    Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations 
Act of 1999 (Pub L. 105-277) requires federal agencies to issue a 
Family Policymaking Assessment for any rule that may affect family 
well-being. This

[[Page 93058]]

rule would not have any new or adverse impact on the autonomy or 
integrity of the family as an institution. Like the existing rule and 
existing program practices, it directly supports family well-being, for 
example supporting reunification and ongoing family counseling to 
prevent homelessness wherever safe and feasible. Since we made no 
changes that would affect this policy priority, we have concluded that 
it is not necessary to prepare a Family Policymaking Assessment.

List of Subjects in 45 CFR Part 1351

    Administrative practice and procedure, Grant programs--social 
programs, Homeless, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Technical 
assistance, Youth.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Numbers 93.550, 
Transitional Living for Homeless Youth; 93.557, Education and 
Prevention Grants to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway, Homeless and 
Street Youth; and 93.623, Basic Center Grants for Runaway Youth)

Mark H. Greenberg,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.

    Approved: March 16, 2016.

Sylvia M. Burwell,
Secretary.

    Editorial note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on December 12, 2016.


0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 45 CFR part 1351 is 
revised as follows:

PART 1351--RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS YOUTH PROGRAM

0
1. The authority citation for part 1351 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5701.

Subpart A--Definition of Terms

0
2. Revise Sec.  1351.1 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.1  Significant Terms.

    For the purposes of this part:
    Act means the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act as amended, 42 U.S.C. 
5701 et seq.
    Aftercare means additional services provided beyond the period of 
residential stay that offer continuity and supportive follow-up to 
youth served by the program.
    Background check means the review of an individual employee's or 
employment applicant's personal information, which shall include State 
or Tribal criminal history records (including fingerprint checks); 
Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, including 
fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB determines this to be 
practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity 
Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award; a child abuse and 
neglect registry check, to the extent FSYB determines this to be 
practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity 
Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award; and a sex 
offender registry check for all employees, consultants, contractors, 
and volunteers who have regular, unsupervised contact with individual 
youth, and for all adult occupants of host homes. As appropriate to job 
functions, it shall also include verification of educational 
credentials and employment experience, and an examination of the 
individual's driving records (for those who will transport youth), and 
professional licensing records.
    Case management means identifying and assessing the needs of the 
client, including consulting with the client, and, as appropriate, 
arranging, coordinating, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for a 
package of services to meet the specific needs of the client.
    Client means a runaway, homeless, or street youth, or a youth at 
risk of running away or becoming homeless, who is served by a program 
grantee.
    Congregate care means a shelter type that combines living quarters 
and restroom facilities with centralized dining services, shared living 
spaces, and access to social and recreational activities, and which is 
not a family home.
    Contact means the engagement between Street Outreach Program staff 
and youth who are at risk of homelessness or runaway status or homeless 
youth in need of services that could reasonably lead to shelter or 
significant harm reduction. Contact may occur on the streets, at a 
drop-in center, or at other locations known to be frequented by 
homeless, runaway, or street youth.
    Core competencies of youth worker means the ability to demonstrate 
skills in six domain areas:
    (1) Professionalism (including, but not limited to, consistent and 
reliable job performance, awareness and use of professional ethics to 
guide practice);
    (2) Applied positive youth development approach (including, but not 
limited to, skills to develop a positive youth development plan and 
identifying the client's strengths in order to best apply a positive 
youth development framework);
    (3) Cultural and human diversity (including, but not limited to, 
gaining knowledge and skills to meet the needs of clients of a 
different race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, gender 
identity/expression, sexual orientation);
    (4) Applied human development (including, but not limited to, 
understanding the developmental needs of those at risk and with special 
needs);
    (5) Relationship and communication (including, but not limited to, 
working with clients in a collaborative manner); and
    (6) Developmental practice methods (including, but not limited to, 
utilizing methods focused on genuine relationships, health and safety, 
intervention planning).
    Counseling services means the provision of guidance, support, 
referrals for services including, but not limited to, health services, 
and advice to runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families, 
as well as to youth and families when a young person is at risk of 
running away, as appropriate. These services are provided in 
consultation with clients and are designed to alleviate the problems 
that have put the youth at risk of running away or contributed to his 
or her running away or being homeless. Any treatment or referral to 
treatment that aims to change someone's sexual orientation, gender 
identity or gender expression is prohibited.
    Drop-in center means a place operated and staffed for runaway or 
homeless youth that clients can visit without an appointment to get 
advice or information, to receive services or service referrals, or to 
meet other runaway or homeless youth.
    Drug abuse education and prevention services means services to 
prevent or reduce drug and/or alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless 
youth, and may include: (1) Individual, family, group, and peer 
counseling; (2) drop-in services; (3) assistance to runaway and 
homeless youth in rural areas (including the development of community 
support groups); (4) information and training relating to drug and/or 
alcohol abuse by runaway and homeless youth for individuals involved in 
providing services to such youth; and (5) activities to improve the 
availability of local drug and/or alcohol abuse prevention services to 
runaway and homeless youth.
    Education or employment means performance in and completion of 
educational and training activities, especially for younger youth, and 
starting and maintaining adequate and stable employment, particularly 
for older youth.
    Health care services means physical, mental, behavioral, and dental 
health

[[Page 93059]]

services. It includes services provided to runaway and homeless youth 
and in the case of Maternity Group Homes also includes services 
provided to a pregnant youth and the child(ren) of the youth. Where 
applicable and allowable within a program, it includes information on 
appropriate health related services provided to family or household 
members of the youth. Any treatment or referral to treatment that aims 
to change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender 
expression is prohibited.
    Home-based services means services provided to youth and their 
families for the purpose of preventing such youth from running away or 
otherwise becoming separated from their families and assisting runaway 
youth to return to their families. It includes services that are 
provided in the residences of families (to the extent practicable), 
including intensive individual and family counseling and training 
relating to life skills and parenting.
    Homeless youth means an individual who cannot live safely with a 
parent, legal guardian, or relative, and who has no other safe 
alternative living arrangement. For purposes of Basic Center Program 
eligibility, a homeless youth must be less than 18 years of age (or 
higher if allowed by a state or local law or regulation that applies to 
licensure requirements for child- or youth-serving facilities). For 
purposes of Transitional Living Program eligibility, a homeless youth 
cannot be less than 16 years of age and must be less than 22 years of 
age (unless the individual commenced his or her stay before age 22, and 
the maximum service period has not ended).
    Host family home means a family or single adult home or domicile, 
other than that of a parent or permanent legal guardian, that provides 
shelter to homeless youth.
    Intake means a process for gathering information to assess 
eligibility and the services required to meet the immediate needs of 
the client. The intake process may be operated independently but 
grantees should, at minimum, ensure they are working with their local 
Continuum of Care Program to ensure that referrals are coordinated and 
youth have access to all of the community's resources.
    Juvenile justice system means agencies that include, but are not 
limited to, juvenile courts, correctional institutions, detention 
facilities, law enforcement, training schools, or agencies that use 
probation, parole, and/or court ordered confinement.
    Maternity group home means a community-based, adult-supervised 
transitional living arrangement where client oversight is provided on 
site or on-call 24 hours a day and that provides pregnant or parenting 
youth and their children with a supportive environment in which to 
learn parenting skills, including child development, family budgeting, 
health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their long-term 
economic independence and ensure the well-being of their children.
    Outreach means finding runaway, homeless, and street youth, or 
youth at risk of becoming runaway or homeless, who might not use 
services due to lack of awareness or active avoidance, providing 
information to them about services and benefits, and encouraging the 
use of appropriate services.
    Permanent connections means ongoing attachments to families or 
adult role models, communities, schools, and other positive social 
networks which support young people's ability to access new ideas and 
opportunities that support thriving, and they provide a social safety 
net when young people are at-risk of re-entering homelessness
    Risk and protective factors mean those factors that are measureable 
characteristics of a youth that can occur at multiple levels, including 
biological, psychological, family, community, and cultural levels, that 
precede and are associated with an outcome. Risk factors are associated 
with higher likelihood of problematic outcomes, and protective factors 
are associated with higher likelihood of positive outcomes.
    Runaway youth means an individual under 18 years of age who absents 
himself or herself from home or place of legal residence without the 
permission of a parent or legal guardian.
    Runaway and Homeless Youth project means a community-based program 
outside the juvenile justice or child welfare systems that provides 
runaway prevention, outreach, shelter, or transition services to 
runaway, homeless, or street youth or youth at risk of running away or 
becoming homeless.
    Safe and appropriate exits means settings that reflect achievement 
of the intended purposes of the Basic Center and Transitional Living 
Programs as outlined in section 382(a) of the Act. Examples of Safe and 
Appropriate Exits are exits:
    (1) To the private residence of a parent, guardian, another adult 
relative, or another adult that has the youth's best interest in mind 
and can provide a stable arrangement;
    (2) To another residential program if the youth's transition to the 
other residential program is consistent with the youth's needs; or
    (3) To independent living if consistent with the youth's needs and 
abilities.
    Safe and appropriate exits are not exits:
    (1) To the street;
    (2) To a locked correctional institute or detention center if the 
youth became involved in activities that lead to this exit after 
entering the program;
    (3) To another residential program if the youth's transition to the 
other residential program is inconsistent with the youth's needs; or
    (4) To an unknown or unspecified other living situation.
    Screening and assessment means valid and reliable standardized 
instruments and practices used to identify each youth's individual 
strengths and needs across multiple aspects of health, wellbeing and 
behavior in order to inform appropriate service decisions and provide a 
baseline for monitoring outcomes over time. Screening involves 
abbreviated instruments, for example with trauma and health problems, 
which can indicate certain youth for more thorough diagnostic 
assessments and service needs. Assessment, which is used here to mean 
assessment more broadly than for the purposes of diagnosis, involves 
evaluating multiple aspects of social, emotional, and behavioral 
competencies and functioning in order to inform service decisions and 
monitor outcomes.
    Service plan or treatment plan means a written plan of action based 
on the assessment of client needs and strengths and engaging in joint 
problem solving with the client that identifies problems, sets goals, 
and describes a strategy for achieving those goals. To the extent 
possible, the plan should incorporate the use of trauma informed, 
evidence-based, or evidence-informed interventions. As appropriate, the 
service and treatment plans should address both physical and mental 
safety issues.
    Short-term training means the provision of local, state, or 
regionally-based instruction to runaway or otherwise homeless youth 
service providers in skill areas that will directly strengthen service 
delivery.
    Social and emotional well-being means the development of key 
competencies, attitudes, and behaviors that equip a young person 
experiencing homelessness to avoid unhealthy risks and to succeed 
across multiple domains of daily life, including school, work, 
relationships, and community.
    Stable housing means a safe and reliable place to call home. Stable 
housing fulfills a critical and basic need for homeless youth. It is 
essential to

[[Page 93060]]

enabling enable functioning across a range of life activities.
    State means any State of the United States, the District of 
Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, and any territory or possession of the United 
States.
    Street youth means an individual who is a runaway youth or an 
indefinitely or intermittently homeless youth who spends a significant 
amount of time on the street or in other areas that increase the risk 
to such youth for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, prostitution, or 
drug and/or alcohol abuse. For purposes of this definition, youth means 
an individual who is age 21 or less.
    Supervised apartments mean a type of shelter setting using 
building(s) with separate residential units where client supervision is 
provided on site or on call 24 hours a day.
    Technical assistance means the provision of expertise or support 
for the purpose of strengthening the capabilities of grantee 
organizations to deliver services.
    Temporary shelter means all Basic Center Program shelter settings 
in which runaway and homeless youth are provided room and board, crisis 
intervention, and other services on a 24-hour basis for up to 21 days. 
The 21 day restriction is on the use of RHY funds through the Basic 
Center Program, not a restriction on the length of stay permitted by 
the facility.

0
3. Revise the Subpart B heading to read as follows:

Subpart B--Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grants

0
4. Revise Sec.  1351.10 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.10  What is the purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Program grants?

    (a) The purpose of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants is to 
establish or strengthen community-based projects to provide runaway 
prevention, outreach, shelter, and transition services to runaway, 
homeless, or street youth or youth at risk of running away or becoming 
homeless.
    (b) Youth who have become homeless or who leave and remain away 
from home without parental permission are disproportionately subject to 
serious health, behavioral, and emotional problems. They lack 
sufficient resources to obtain care and may live on the street for 
extended periods, unable to achieve stable, safe living arrangements 
that at times put them in danger. Many are urgently in need of shelter, 
which, depending on the type of Runaway and Homeless Youth project, can 
include host family homes, drop-in centers, congregate care, or 
supervised apartments, and services, including services that are 
linguistically appropriate, responsive to their complex social 
identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/spirituality, 
gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, 
physical ability, language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or 
customs), and acknowledge the environment they come from. Runaway and 
Homeless Youth grant services should have a positive youth development 
approach that ensures a young person has a sense of safety and 
structure; belonging and membership; self-worth and social 
contribution; independence and control over one's life; skills to 
develop plans for the future and set goals; and closeness in 
interpersonal relationships. To make a successful transition to 
adulthood, runaway youth, homeless youth, and street youth also need 
opportunities to complete high school or earn a general equivalency 
degree, learn job skills, and obtain employment. HHS operates three 
programs to carry out these purposes through direct local services: The 
Basic Center Program; the Transitional Living Program (including 
Maternity Group Homes); and the Street Outreach Program. HHS operates 
three additional activities to support achievement of these purposes: 
Research, evaluation, and service projects; a national communications 
system to assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with 
service providers; and technical assistance and training.

0
5. Revise Sec.  1351.11 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.11  Who is eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless 
Youth Program grant?

    Public (state and local) and private non-profit entities, and 
coordinated networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the 
juvenile justice system.

0
6. Revise Sec.  1351.12 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.12  Who gets priority for the award of a Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Program grant?

    (a) In selecting applications for grants under the Basic Center 
Program the Secretary shall give priority to--
    (1) Eligible applicants who have demonstrated experience in 
providing services to runaway and homeless youth; and
    (2) Eligible applicants that request grants of less than $200,000 
or such figure as Congress may specify.
    (b) In selecting applications for grants under the Transitional 
Living Program, the Secretary shall give priority to entities that have 
experience in providing to homeless youth shelter (such as group homes, 
including maternity group homes, host family homes, and supervised 
apartments) and services (including information and counseling services 
in basic life skills which shall include money management, budgeting, 
consumer education, and use of credit, parenting skills (as 
appropriate), interpersonal skill building, educational advancement, 
job attainment skills, and mental and physical health care) to homeless 
youth.
    (c) In selecting applicants to receive grants under the Street 
Outreach Program, the Secretary shall give priority to public and 
nonprofit private agencies that have experience in providing services 
to runaway and homeless, and street youth.
    (d) In selecting grants for the national communication system to 
assist runaway and homeless youth in communicating with their families 
and with service providers, the Secretary shall give priority to grant 
applicants that have experience in providing electronic communications 
services to runaway and homeless youth, including telephone, Internet, 
mobile applications, and other technology-driven services.
    (e) In selecting grants for research, evaluation, demonstration and 
service projects, the Secretary shall give priority to proposed 
projects outlined in section 343(b) and (c) of the Act.
    (f) The Secretary shall integrate the performance standards 
outlined in Sec. Sec.  1351.30, 1351.31, or 1351.32 into the 
grantmaking, monitoring, and evaluation processes of the Basic Center 
Program, Transitional Living Program, and Street Outreach Program. 
Specific details about how performance standards will be considered, 
along with examples of performance documentation, will be provided in 
the annual funding opportunity announcements.

0
7. Revise Sec.  1351.13 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.13  What are the Federal and non-Federal match requirements 
under a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant?

    The federal share of the project represents 90 percent of the total 
project cost supported by the federal government. The remaining 10 
percent represents the required project match cost by the grantee. This 
may be a cash or in-kind contribution.

0
8. Revise Sec.  1351.15 to read as follows:

[[Page 93061]]

Sec.  1351.15  What costs are supportable under a Runaway and Homeless 
Youth Program grant?

    (a) For all grant programs, costs that can be supported include, 
but are not limited to, staff training and core services such as 
outreach, intake, case management, data collection, temporary shelter, 
transitional living arrangements, referral services, counseling 
services, and aftercare services. Costs for acquisition and renovation 
of existing structures may not normally exceed 15 percent of the grant 
award. HHS may waive this limitation upon written request under special 
circumstances based on demonstrated need.
    (b) For grants that support research, evaluation, and service 
projects; a national communications system to assist runaway and 
homeless youth in communicating with service providers; and for 
technical assistance and training grants; costs that can be supported 
include those enumerated above as well as services such as data 
collection and analysis, telecommunications services, and preparation 
and publication of materials in support of the purposes of such grants.

0
9. Revise Sec.  1351.16 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.16  What costs are not allowable under a Runaway and 
Homeless Youth Program grant?

    (a) A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover the 
capital costs of constructing new facilities, or operating costs of 
existing community centers or other facilities that are used partially 
or incidentally for services to runaway or homeless youth clients, 
except to the extent justified by application of cost allocation 
methods accepted by HHS as reasonable and appropriate.
    (b) A Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant does not cover any 
treatment or referral to treatment that aims to change someone's sexual 
orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

0
10. Revise Sec.  1351.17 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.17  How is application made for a Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Program grant?

    An applicant should follow instructions included in funding 
opportunity announcements, which describe procedures for receipt and 
review of applications.

0
11. Revise Sec.  1351.18 to read as follows:


Sec.  1351.18  What criteria has HHS established for deciding which 
Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant applications to fund?

    In reviewing applications for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program 
grant, HHS takes into consideration a number of factors, including, but 
not limited to:
    (a) Whether the grant application meets the particular priorities, 
requirements, standards, or evaluation criteria established in funding 
opportunity announcements;
    (b) A need for Federal support based on the likely number of 
estimated runaway or otherwise homeless youth in the area in which the 
Runaway and Homeless Youth project is or will be located exceeding the 
availability of existing services for such youth in that area;
    (c) For runaway and homeless youth centers, whether there is a 
minimum residential capacity of four (4) and a maximum residential 
capacity of twenty (20) youth in a single structure (except where the 
applicant assures that the state where the center or locally controlled 
facility is located has a state or local law or regulation that 
requires a higher maximum to comply with licensure requirements for 
child and youth serving facilities), or within a single floor of a 
structure in the case of apartment buildings, with a number of staff 
sufficient to assure adequate supervision and treatment for the number 
of clients to be served and the guidelines followed for determining the 
appropriate staff ratio;
    (d) Plans for meeting the best interests of the youth involving, 
when reasonably possible, both the youth and the family. For Basic 
Center grantee applicants, the grantee shall develop adequate plans for 
contacting the parents or other relatives of the youth and ensuring the 
safe return of the youth according to the best interests of the youth, 
for contacting local government officials pursuant to informal 
arrangements established with such officials by the runaway and 
homeless youth center, and for providing for other appropriate 
alternative living arrangements;
    (e) Plans for the delivery of aftercare or counseling services to 
runaway or otherwise homeless youth and their families;
    (f) Whether the estimated cost to HHS for the Runaway and Homeless 
Youth project is reasonable considering the anticipated results;
    (g) Whether the proposed personnel are well qualified and the 
applicant agency has adequate facilities and resources;
    (h) Past performance on a RHY grant, including but not limited to 
program performance standards;
    (i) Whether the proposed project design, if well executed, is 
capable of attaining program objectives;
    (j) The consistency of the grant application with the provisions of 
the Act and these regulations; and
    (k) Other factors as outlined in funding opportunity announcements.


Sec.  1351.19   [Removed]

0
12. Remove Sec.  1351.19.

0
13. Revise Subpart C to read as follows:
Subpart C--Additional Requirements
Sec.
1351.20 What Government-wide and HHS-wide regulations apply to these 
programs?
1351.21 What confidentiality requirements apply to these programs?
1351.22 What additional requirements apply to these programs?
1351.23 What are the additional requirements that apply to the Basic 
Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Program grants?
1351.24 What are the additional requirements that the Basic Center 
Program grantees must meet?
1351.25 What are the additional requirements that the Transitional 
Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees must meet?
1351.26 What are the additional requirements that both the Basic 
Center and Transitional Living Program grantees must meet?
1351.27 What are the additional requirements that the Street 
Outreach Program grantees must meet?

Subpart C--Additional Requirements


Sec.  1351.20  What Government-wide and HHS-wide regulations apply to 
these programs?

    A number of other rules and regulations apply or potentially apply 
to applicants and grantees. These include:
    (a) 2 CFR part 182--Government-wide Requirements for Drug Free 
Workplace;
    (b) 2 CFR part 376--Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension
    (c) 45 CFR part 16--Procedures of the Departmental Grant Appeals 
Board;
    (d) 45 CFR part 30--Claims Collection;
    (e) 45 CFR part 46--Protection of Human Subjects;
    (f) 45 CFR part 75--Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost 
principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards, including 
nondiscrimination requirements.
    (g) 45 CFR part 80--Nondiscrimination Under Programs Receiving 
Federal Assistance Through the Department of Health and Human

[[Page 93062]]

Services Effectuation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
    (h) 45 CFR part 81--Practice and Procedure for Hearings Under part 
80;
    (i) 45 CFR part 84--Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in 
Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance;
    (j) 45 CFR part 86--Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in 
Education Programs or Activities receiving Federal Financial 
Assistance;
    (k) 45 CFR part 87--Equal Treatment for Faith Based Organizations;
    (l) 45 CFR part 91--Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Age in 
Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance;
    (m) 45 CFR part 92--Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and 
Activities; and
    (n) 45 CFR part 93--New Restrictions on Lobbying.


Sec.  1351.21  What confidentiality requirements apply to these 
programs?

    Several program policies regarding confidentiality of information, 
treatment, conflict of interest and state protection apply to 
recipients of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grants. These include:
    (a) Confidential information. Pursuant to the Act, no records 
containing the identity of individual youth, including but not limited 
to lists of names, addresses, photographs, or records of evaluation of 
individuals served by a Runaway and Homeless Youth project, may be 
disclosed or transferred to any individual or to any public or private 
agency except:
    (1) For Basic Center Program grants, records maintained on 
individual runaway and homeless youth shall not be disclosed without 
the informed consent of the individual youth and parent or legal 
guardian to anyone other than another agency compiling statistical 
records or a government agency involved in the disposition of criminal 
charges against an individual runaway and homeless youth;
    (2) For Transitional Living Programs, records maintained on 
individual homeless youth shall not be disclosed without the informed 
consent of the individual youth to anyone other than an agency 
compiling statistical records;
    (3) Research, evaluation, and statistical reports funded by grants 
provided under section 343 of the Act are allowed to be based on 
individual data, but only if such data are de-identified in ways that 
preclude disclosing information on identifiable individuals; and
    (4) Youth served by a Runaway and Homeless Youth project shall have 
the right to review their records; to correct a record or file a 
statement of disagreement; and to be apprised of the individuals who 
have reviewed their records.
    (b) State law protection. HHS policies regarding confidential 
information and experimentation and treatment shall not apply if HHS 
finds that state law is more protective of the rights of runaway or 
otherwise homeless youth.
    (c) Procedures shall be established for the training of project 
staff in the protection of these rights and for the secure storage of 
records.


Sec.  1351.22  What additional requirements apply to these programs?

    (a) Non-discriminatory and culturally and linguistically sensitive 
services and training. Service delivery and staff training must 
comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth as 
well as be language appropriate, gender appropriate (interventions that 
are sensitive to the diverse experiences of male, female, and 
transgender youth and consistent with the gender identity of 
participating youth), and culturally sensitive and respectful of the 
complex social identities of youth (i.e., race, ethnicity, nationality, 
age, religion/spirituality, gender identity/expression, sexual 
orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, 
language, beliefs, values, behavior patterns, or customs). No runaway 
youth or homeless youth shall, on any of the foregoing bases, be 
excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be 
subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in 
whole or in part under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
    (1) The criteria that grantees adopt to determine eligibility for 
the program, or any activity or service, may include an assessment of 
the needs of each applicant, and the health and safety of other 
beneficiaries, among other factors.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (b) Medical, psychiatric or psychological treatment. No youth shall 
be subject to medical, psychiatric, or psychological treatment without 
the consent of the youth and, for youth under the age of emancipation 
in their state of residence, consent of a parent or guardian, if 
required by state law.
    (c) Conflict of interest. Employees or individuals participating in 
a program or project under the Act shall not use their positions for a 
purpose that is, or gives the appearance of being, motivated by a 
desire for private gain for themselves or others, particularly those 
with whom they have family, business or other ties.


Sec.  1351.23  What are the additional requirements that apply to the 
Basic Center, Transitional Living and Street Outreach Program grants?

    To improve the administration of these Runaway and Homeless Youth 
Programs by increasing the capacity of Runaway and Homeless Youth 
projects to deliver services, by improving their performance in 
delivering services, and by providing for the evaluation of 
performance:
    (a) Grantees shall participate in technical assistance, monitoring, 
and short-term training as a condition of funding, as determined 
necessary by HHS, in such areas as: Aftercare services and counseling; 
background checks; core competencies of youth workers; core support 
services; crisis intervention techniques; culturally and linguistically 
sensitive services; participation in or development of coordinated 
networks of private nonprofit agencies and/or public agencies to 
provide services; ethics and staff safety; fiscal management; low cost 
community alternatives for runaway or otherwise homeless youth; 
positive youth development; program management; risk and protective 
factors related to youth homelessness; screening and assessment 
practices; shelter facility staff development; special populations 
(tribal youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning 
(LGBTQ), and intersex youth; youth with disabilities; youth victims of 
trafficking, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse); trauma and the 
effects of trauma on youth; use of evidence-based and evidence-informed 
interventions; and youth and family counseling. It is not a requirement 
that every staff person receives training in every subject but all 
staff members who work directly with youth should receive training 
sufficient to meet the stated core-competencies of youth workers.
    (b) Grantees shall coordinate their activities with the 24-hour 
National toll-free and Internet communication system, which links 
Runaway and Homeless Youth projects and other service providers with 
runaway or otherwise homeless youth, as appropriate to the specific 
activities provided by the grantee.
    (c) Grantees shall submit statistical reports profiling the clients 
served and providing management and performance information in 
accordance with guidance provided by HHS.
    (d) Grantees shall perform outreach to locate runaway and homeless 
youth and to coordinate activities with other organizations serving the 
same or similar client populations, such as child welfare agencies, 
juvenile justice

[[Page 93063]]

systems, schools, and Continuums of Care, as defined by HUD.
    (e) Grantees shall develop and implement a plan for addressing 
youth who have run away from foster care placement or correctional 
institutions, in accordance with federal, state, or local laws or 
regulations that apply to these situations. In accordance with section 
312(b)(4) of the Act, Basic Center grantees must also develop a plan 
that ensures the return of runaway and homeless youth who have run away 
from the correctional institution back to the correctional institution.
    (f) Grantees shall take steps to ensure that youth who are or 
should be under the legal jurisdiction of the juvenile justice or child 
welfare systems obtain and receive services from those systems until 
such time as they are released from the jurisdiction of those systems.
    (g) Grantees shall develop and document plans that address steps to 
be taken in case of a local or national situation that poses risk to 
the health and safety of staff and youth. Emergency preparedness plans 
should, at a minimum, include routine preventative maintenance of 
facilities as well as preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The 
plan should contain strategies for addressing evacuation, security, 
food, medical supplies, and notification of youths' families, as 
appropriate. In the event of an evacuation due to specific facility 
issues, such as a fire, loss of utilities, or mandatory evacuation by 
the local authorities, an alternative location needs to be designated 
and included in the plan. Grantees must immediately provide 
notification to their project officer and grants officer when 
evacuation plans are executed.
    (h) Grantees shall ensure that all shelters that they operate are 
licensed and determine that any shelters to which they regularly refer 
clients have evidence of current licensure, in states or localities 
with licensure requirements. Grantees shall promptly report to HHS 
instances in which shelters are cited for failure to meet licensure or 
related requirements, or lose licensure. For grantee-operated 
facilities, failure to meet any applicable state or local legal 
requirements as a condition of operation may be grounds for grant 
termination.
    (i) Grantees shall utilize and integrate into the operation of 
their projects the principles of positive youth development, including 
healthy messages, safe and structured places, adult role models, skill 
development, and opportunities to serve others.
    (j) No later than October 1, 2017, grantees shall have a plan, 
procedures, and standards for ensuring background checks on all 
employees, contractors, volunteers, and consultants who have regular 
and unsupervised private contact with youth served by the grantee, and 
on all adults who reside in or operate host homes. The plans, 
procedures, and standards must identify the background check findings 
that would disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment to 
provide services for which assistance is made available in accordance 
with this part.
    (1) Required background checks include:
    (i) State or tribal criminal history records, including fingerprint 
checks;
    (ii) Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, 
including fingerprint checks, to the extent FSYB determines this to be 
practicable and specifies the requirement in a Funding Opportunity 
Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's award;
    (iii) Child abuse and neglect state registry check, to the extent 
FSYB determines this to be practicable and specifies the requirement in 
a Funding Opportunity Announcement that is applicable to a grantee's 
award;
    (iv) Sex offender registry check; and,
    (v) Any other checks required under state or tribal law.
    (2) Programs must document the justification for any hire where an 
arrest, pending criminal charge or conviction, is present.
    (k) Grantees shall provide such other services and meet such 
additional requirements as HHS determines are necessary to carry out 
the purposes of the statute, as appropriate to the services and 
activities for which they are funded. These services and requirements 
are articulated in the funding opportunity announcements and other 
instructions issued by the Secretary or secretarial designees. This 
includes operational instructions and standards of execution determined 
by the Secretary or secretarial designees to be necessary to properly 
perform or document meeting the requirements applicable to particular 
programs or projects.


Sec.  1351.24  What are the additional requirements that the Basic 
Center Program grantees must meet?

    (a) Grantees shall have an intake procedure that is available 24 
hours a day and 7 days a week to all youth seeking services and 
temporary shelter that addresses and responds to immediate needs for 
crisis counseling, food, clothing, shelter, and health care services.
    (b) Grantees shall provide, either directly or through 
arrangements, access to temporary shelter 24 hours a day and 7 days a 
week.
    (c) Grantees shall provide trauma-informed case management, 
counseling and referral services that meet client needs and that 
encourage, when in the best interests of the youth particularly with 
regard to safety, the involvement of parents or legal guardians.
    (d) Grantees shall provide additional core support services to 
clients both residentially and non-residentially as appropriate. The 
core services must include case planning, skill building, recreation 
and leisure activities.
    (e) Grantees shall, as soon as feasible and no later than 72 hours 
of the youth entering the program, contact the parents, legal guardians 
or other relatives of each youth according to the best interests of the 
youth. If a grantee determines that it is not in the best interest of 
the client to contact the parents, legal guardian or other relatives of 
the client, or if the grantee is unable to locate, or the youth refuses 
to disclose the contact information of, the parent, legal guardian or 
other relative of the client, they must:
    (1) Inform another adult identified by the child;
    (2) Document why it is not in the client's best interest to contact 
the parent, legal guardian or other relative, or why they are not able 
to contact the parent, legal guardian or other relative; and
    (3) Send a copy of the documentation to the regional program 
specialist for review.
    (f) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity 
announcement.


Sec.  1351.25  What are the additional requirements that the 
Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home grantees must 
meet?

    (a) Grantees shall provide transitional living arrangements and 
additional core services including case planning/management, 
counseling, skill building, consumer education, referral to needed 
social and health care services, and education, recreation and leisure 
activities, aftercare and, as appropriate to grantees providing 
maternity-related services, parenting skills, child care, and child 
nutrition.
    (b) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity 
announcement.

[[Page 93064]]

Sec.  1351.26  What are the additional requirements that both the Basic 
Center and Transitional Living Program grantees must meet?

    (a) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and 
implement an aftercare plan, covering at least 3 months, to stay in 
contact with youth who leave the program in order to ensure their 
ongoing safety and access to services. A youth's individual aftercare 
plan shall outline what services were and will be provided as well as 
the youth's housing status during and after the program. The plan shall 
be provided to the youth in exit counseling or before. Follow-up 
efforts shall be made for all youth. For those contacted after 3 
months, the plan shall be updated to record the rate of participation 
and completion of the services in the plan at 3 months after exiting 
the program. In accordance with section 312(b)(5) of the Act, as 
possible, Basic Center grantees shall also provide a plan for providing 
counseling and aftercare services to youth who are returned beyond the 
state in which the runaway and homeless youth service is located.
    (b) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and 
implement a plan for health care services referrals for youth during 
the service and aftercare periods. Such referral plans shall include 
health care services and referrals and counseling on insurance coverage 
through family health insurance plans, or to agencies that assist in 
enrolling persons in Medicaid or in insurance plans offered under 
Affordable Care Act exchanges.
    (c) Basic Center and Transitional Living grantees shall develop and 
implement a plan to assist youth to stay connected with their schools 
or to obtain appropriate educational services, training, or employment 
services. This includes coordination with McKinney-Vento school 
district liaisons, designated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless 
Assistance Act, to assure that runaway and homeless youth are provided 
information about the services available under that Act. This also 
includes coordination with local employment and employment training 
coordinating agencies or programs, coordination with local college 
placement services, and providing access to the Free Application for 
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application.


Sec.  1351.27  What are the additional requirements that the Street 
Outreach Program grantees must meet?

    (a) Grantees shall provide services that are designed to assist 
clients in leaving the streets, making healthy choices, and building 
trusting relationships in areas where targeted youth congregate.
    (b) Grantees shall directly or by referral provide treatment, 
counseling, prevention, and education services to clients as well as 
referral for emergency shelter.
    (c) Additional requirements included in the funding opportunity 
announcement.

0
14. Add Subpart D to read as follows:
Subpart D--What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific 
performance standards?
Sec.
1351.30 What performance standards must Basic Center Program 
grantees meet?
1351.31 What performance standards must Transitional Living Program 
grantees, including Maternity Group Homes (MGH), meet?
1351.32 What performance standards must Street Outreach Program 
grantees meet?

Subpart D--What are the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program-specific 
performance standards?


Sec.  1351.30  What performance standards must Basic Center Program 
grantees meet?

    (a)(1) Grantees shall consistently enhance outcomes for youth in 
the following four core areas:
    (i) Social and Emotional Well-being;
    (ii) Permanent Connections;
    (iii) Education or Employment; and
    (iv) Stable Housing.
    (2) Each grantee shall report data related to these outcomes, using 
existing data collection processes found under PRA OMB Control Numbers 
0970-0406 and 0970-0123, and their successors.
    (b) Grantees shall ensure that youth receive counseling services 
that are trauma informed and match the individual needs of each client. 
Data shall be reported by each grantee on the type of counseling each 
youth received (individual, family and/or group counseling), the 
participation rate based on a youth's service plan or treatment plan, 
and the completion rate based on a youth's service plan or treatment 
plan, where applicable.
    (c) Grantees that choose to provide street-based services, home-
based services, drug and/or alcohol abuse education and prevention 
services, and/or testing for sexually transmitted diseases (at the 
request of the youth) shall ensure youth receive the appropriate 
services. Data shall be reported on the completion rate for each 
service provided based on the youth's service or treatment plan.
    (d) Grantees shall ensure that youth have safe and appropriate 
exits when leaving the program. Each grantee shall report data on the 
type of exit experienced by each young person departing a Basic Center 
Program.


Sec.  1351.31  What performance standards must Transitional Living 
Program grantees, including Maternity Group Homes, meet?

    (a)(1) Grantees shall consistently enhance outcomes for youth in 
the following four core areas:
    (i) Social and Emotional Well-being;
    (ii) Permanent Connections;
    (iii) Education or Employment; and
    (iv) Stable Housing.
    (2) Each grantee shall report data related to these outcomes, using 
existing data collection and reporting processes, in accordance with 
the Paperwork Reduction Act and the Office of Management and Budget 
Control Numbers 0970-0406 and 0970-0123, and their successors.
    (b) Grantees shall ensure youth are engaged in educational 
advancement, job attainment skills or work activities while in the 
program. Each grantee shall report data on the type of education or 
job-related activities that each youth is engaged in.
    (c) Grantees shall ensure and report that youth receive health care 
referrals, including both services and insurance, as determined within 
their health care referral plan.
    (d) Maternity Group Home Grantees shall ensure and report that 
youth receive consistent pre-natal care, well-baby exams, and 
immunizations for the infant while in the program.
    (e) Grantees shall ensure that youth have safe and appropriate 
exits when leaving the program. Each grantee shall report data on the 
type of exit experienced by each young person departing a Transitional 
Living Program.


Sec.  1351.32  What performance standards must Street Outreach Program 
grantees meet?

    Grantees shall contact youth who are or who are at risk of homeless 
or runaway status on the streets in numbers that are reasonably 
attainable for the staff size of the project. Grantees with larger 
staff will be expected to contact larger numbers of youth in 
approximate proportion, as determined by HHS, to the larger number of 
staff available to provide this service. Each grantee shall report data 
related to this outcome, using existing data collection and reporting 
processes, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act and the 
Office of Management and Budget Control Numbers 0970-0406 and 0970-
0123, and their successors.

[FR Doc. 2016-30241 Filed 12-19-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4184-01-P