2018 was a momentous year for our work to ensure that local, state, and federal systems recognize and prioritize the needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
At the federal level, we led efforts to secure:
- Unprecedented funding increases for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program;
- $25 million for schools to support children and youth made homeless by the natural disasters of 2017;
- Provisions for outreach and tailored services for homeless students in the Career and Technical Education Act; and
- Provisions specifically for homeless youth (including a new school-based grant program) in the recently enacted national opioid legislation. We also testified at a Congressional hearing about the need to reform homeless assistance to better serve children, youth, and families, and organized and led a broad, diverse coalition of hundreds of local, state, and national groups to help pass the bill through the Financial Services Committee on a bipartisan basis.
At the state level, we:
- Worked with advocates in Tennessee to secure successful passage of HB 2303, which allows children and youth of any age experiencing homelessness to obtain their birth certificate and state ID.
- Worked with Representative Mary Gonzalez on Texas HB 99, filed on the very first day for 2019 bill filing. HB 99 would provide college students experiencing homelessness with automatic eligibility for housing assistance and priority for student housing, and require colleges and universities to designate a liaison for students experiencing homelessness.
- Prepared additional policy proposals for the 2019 session in the areas of credit accrual, child care, minor consent, expungement of juvenile records, higher education, employment, and transportation in ten additional states.
- Trained close to 1,000 advocates in 44 states and DC on the nuts and bolts of policy advocacy, and produced many state advocacy tools.
SchoolHouse Connection is grateful to our many policy advocacy partners at the local, state, and national level. We look forward to redoubling our efforts in 2019 in the 116th Congresses and in state legislatures across the country.