Building Teams for Change: Changing State Policy to Change Lives

Rooted in the realities of local communities, representing locally-devised solutions.

SchoolHouse Connection engages in state policy advocacy in partnership with local child and youth advocates, McKinney-Vento liaisons and State Coordinators, homeless service providers, colleges and universities, and civic organizations. Most importantly, young people with lived experience of homelessness are partners every step of the way, from prioritizing bill topics and drafting language, through the legislative advocacy process.

States

Bills

2019 bills passed to date

Progress Updates

Promoting higher education completion

Indiana
HB 1152 would establish the student hunger and homelessness study committee, to:

  • Study the prevalence of homelessness, housing insecurity, and food insecurity among students at Indiana colleges and universities.
  • Provide suggestions for eliminating those issues.
  • Report the results to the governor and legislature by July, 2020.

Maine
LD 866, HP 640 would:

  • Require institutions of higher education to designate a Liaison for students experiencing homelessness.
  • Require institutions of higher education to prioritize students experiencing homelessness for access to existing on-campus housing, develop a plan to provide students experiencing homelessness with housing during school breaks, and allow students experiencing homelessness who are enrolled part-time to access on-campus housing during their first year of school.
  • Expand the tuition waiver for state postsecondary educational institutions to include students experiencing homelessness.

*Heard by the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on April 17, 2019.

Tennessee
HB 1000 and its companion bill SB 763 would require postsecondary institutions to:

  • Designate a Homeless Student Liaison, who will assist students experiencing homelessness in applying for and receiving financial aid and available services.
  • Give students experiencing homelessness priority access to on-campus housing, including housing that remains open the most days of the year.

*Passed Senate; Passed House; Sent to Governor. 

Texas
HB 809 would:

  • Require existing Higher Education Foster Liaisons to support students experiencing homelessness who were not in foster care.
  • Provide Liaisons with basic professional development.
  • Require institutions of higher education to prioritize students experiencing homelessness for access to existing on-campus housing and to assist them in locating housing during academic breaks.

*Passed House.

 

Empowering unaccompanied homeless youth to receive mental health care, shelter/housing, and other services

Kentucky
HB 378 would:

  • Allow youth age 16 or older to receive outpatient mental health counseling from any qualified mental health professional without parental consent.

*Removed from final bill.

Maine
LD 1275, SP 395 would:

  • Improve minors’ ability to consent for medical, mental, dental and other health counseling and services by removing time requirements and allowing minors to prove they are living separately from parents through various means, including a statement from a governmental or nonprofit agency that provides homeless service, a school district liaison, or an attorney representing the minor.
  • Protects health care practitioners from liability for treating minors (except for liability for their own negligent or willful acts).

*Heard by the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services Committee on April 12, 2019. Added as an amendment to HB 183; 

Missouri
HB 1036 would:

  • Provide youth who were in foster care at any time after age 13 to receive Medicaid health coverage until age 26.

*Passed House Committee on Children and Families and House Rules Committee.

HB 1035 would:

  • Allow and facilitate access to mental health care for unaccompanied homeless youth age 15 and older.
  • Allow and facilitate access to housing, shelter, related services, and medical care for unaccompanied homeless youth age 15 and older.

HB 1028 would:

  • Clarify that being an unaccompanied homeless youth, in and of itself, is not sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect.

North Carolina

HB 613 would:

  • Allow unaccompanied homeless minors to consent for physical examinations associated with participation in school activities, including extracurricular activities; dental care; optometry care; mental health care; and substance abuse treatment.

Utah
HB 371 will:

  • Allow licensed shelters and providers to serve homeless youth without criminal penalties.
  • Allow homeless youth 15 and older to consent for shelter and services.

*Signed by Governor.

 

Strengthening tax credits for employers who hire youth experiencing homelessness

Utah
HB 181 will:

  • Revise the definition of “homeless” to be more inclusive, particularly of young people.
  • Facilitate the issuance of tax credit certificates to employers that hire people experiencing homelessness.

*Signed by Governor.

Promoting high school graduation

Connecticut

HB 7313 would:

  • Ensure that unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness have access to the state education dispute resolution process.
  • Ensure that unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness are able to continue attending the school in which the youth seek enrollment during the pendency of disputes.
  • Place the burden of proof in disputes involving a student experiencing homelessness on the school district, removing that burden from the student.
  • Otherwise strengthen the dispute resolution rights found in the McKinney-Vento Act, particularly for unaccompanied youth.

*Passed House.

Indiana
SB 464 would:

  • Allow unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness age 16 and older to take the high school equivalency exam without parental consent and at no cost.

*Passed House and Senate.

Kentucky
HB 378 will:

  • Require the KY Department of Education to promulgate regulations regarding students experiencing homelessness, including awarding and accepting partial credit, facilitating enrollment in required classes, and providing for diplomas from a prior district or for meeting state minimum requirements for students who change schools in their last two years of high school.

*Signed by Governor.

Nevada
SB 147 would:

  • Provide students experiencing homelessness with partial credits for partial coursework satisfactorily completed.
  • Require school districts to review and adjust the academic plans of students experiencing homelessness to maximize credit accrual and progress toward graduation.
  • Require school districts to award any diploma students experiencing homelessness have earned if they transfer schools in 11th or 12th grade.

* Passed Senate Education Committee.

 

Empowering unaccompanied homeless youth to access vital documents

Indiana
SB 464 would:

  • Allow unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness age 16 and older to apply for a driver’s license, obtain a state ID, and obtain a copy of their birth certificates without parental consent and without a fee.

*Passed House and Senate.

Kentucky
HB 378 will:

  • Waive birth certificate fees for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

*Signed by Governor.

Missouri
HB 1074 would:

  • Waive birth certificate fees for homeless parents and unaccompanied homeless youth.
  • Provide unaccompanied homeless youth the right to obtain their own birth certificate without parental consent.

*Added as an amendment to HB 1135; Passed House Committee on Children and Families and House Rules Committee.

Nevada
AB 363 would:

  • Provide a one-time fee waiver for state ID cards and driver licenses for homeless youth under age 25.
  • Provide birth certificates at no cost to homeless youth, their school district liaisons, and their social workers.
  • Allow unaccompanied youth to obtain statements of birth at no cost for the purpose of admission to school or securing employment.

Utah
HB 465 will:

  • Waive birth certificate fees and photo ID fees for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

*HB 465 passed as an amendment to HB 371. It has been signed by the Governor.

Increasing access to child care

North Carolina

HB 613 would:

  • Require the State Social Services Commission to adopt rules facilitating access to child care for children experiencing homelessness, including but not limited to rules that establish homelessness as a need for care; prioritize children experiencing homelessness on waiting lists; allow parents of children experiencing homelessness to substitute school attendance for work requirements; and limit work requirements to 20 hours per week for parents of children experiencing homelessness.

State Policy At Work

State Advocacy Tools

State Advocacy Training Webinars

Episode 1 provides an overview of our state advocacy methodology and includes sample policy surveys for young people and advocates, a sample agenda for a State Advocacy Institute, and sample activities to engage stakeholders and young people in policy advocacy.
Watch Episode 1
Download the Powerpoint & Handouts (Link to Dropbox folder)

Episode 2 is an advocacy “how-to” guide, sharing tools and skills for state and federal policy advocacy, including a sample policy agenda and sample policy brief. We hope these tools will encourage new advocates to get involved with state and federal policy, and provide seasoned advocates with new resources.
Watch Episode 2
Download the Powerpoint & Handouts (Link to Dropbox folder)

Guide to State Laws to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness

An important step in policy advocacy is knowing what legislation already exists on an issue. “State Laws to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness” provides state-specific information and model statutes on four categories of state laws:

  1. Laws allowing unaccompanied homeless minors to consent for housing and shelter services;
  2. Laws empowering unaccompanied minors to consent for routine medical care;
  3. Laws that mitigate the effects of mobility to help students experiencing homelessness graduate from high school; and
  4. Laws supporting students experiencing homelessness in higher education.

Get the Guide

State Law Briefs

State Laws on Minor Consent for Routine Medical Care
This document includes states with laws allowing minors, including unaccompanied homeless minors, to consent for routine health care. It does not address state laws that empower minors to consent for substance abuse treatment, mental health care, treatment for contagious diseases or reproductive health.

State Laws on Minor Consent for Housing and Related Services
Several state legislatures have recognized that unaccompanied homeless youth under age 18 need legal rights to access housing, shelter and other basic services. This document summarizes state laws, including recently enacted legislation in Wyoming, and a currently pending bill that SchoolHouse Connection is working on with partners in Arizona.

State Laws on High School Graduation for Students Experiencing Homelessness
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) places great emphasis on high school graduation for students experiencing homelessness. This document summarizes state laws that complement these federal requirements. 

State Laws Supporting College Students Experiencing Homelessness
State legislatures have been actively supporting college students experiencing homelessness over the past few years. This document provides a summary of existing strong state laws. SchoolHouse Connection is working with partners in Texas on a new state law to support the thousands of Texas students striving to complete college without safe, stable housing.

Blog Posts

April 15, 2019

Five Bills to the Finish Line; 13 More in the Works

Thanks to tenacious state and local advocates, five of SchoolHouse Connection’s state bills on youth homelessness have become law in three states. These news laws will help youth experiencing homelessness access housing and services; graduate high school; find employment; and obtain their vital documents

March 6, 2019

A Dozen Bills and Counting to Help Youth Experiencing Homelessness
The 2019 state legislative season is in full swing, and SchoolHouse Connection is co-leading advocacy on 17 bills in 8 states (IN, KY, ME, MO, NV, TN, TX, UT). We’re also supporting advocates on policy reforms in five additional states (AZ, CA, GA, MD, WA), and anticipate additional bills to be filed in LA, NJ, and NC.

November 19, 2018

First State Bills for 2019 Introduced, with More on the Way
Although state legislatures will not begin considering new legislation until early next year, SchoolHouse Connection and our state policy partners have been working feverishly for months to prepare. Last week, our first bill was introduced: a higher education bill in the Texas state legislature. Proposals in other states will tackle higher education, vital documents, minor consent, credit accrual, child care, employment, and transportation.

SchoolHouse Connection’s State Policy Work In The News

Bill Would Bar Texas School Districts From Suspending Homeless Students
Dallas Observer
Thousands of students in the Dallas Independent School District show up to school each morning not knowing where they’ll sleep that night. Under a bill in the Texas Senate, districts wouldn’t be allowed to suspend such students if they misbehave.

Bill aims to help homeless college students
NewsChannel5 – Nashville
Students on a college campus come from diverse backgrounds. Some are athletes, others are scholars. Some are local, some travel from across the country to travel to their school. Some grew up surrounded by family, others have found themselves homeless leading into their college experience.

Bill designates liaison, housing priority for Tennessee’s homeless college students
Tennessean
The bill, SB 763, would designate a staff member already employed at Tennessee higher education institutions, including community colleges, to serve as a homeless student liaison.

Legislation moves forward to help Kentucky’s homeless teens
WHAS11
House Bill 378 was unanimously passed by the House Standing Committee on Education on March 5.

Homelessness Advocates Tell of New Successes Via State Legislation
Youth Today 
Some laws can make life exceptionally difficult for homeless and runaway youth. Whether it’s requiring parental consent to receive health care or demanding proof of residency to obtain a photo ID, unfriendly policies have left many service providers feeling frustrated and powerless to help. A small national nonprofit based in Washington is working to change that.

Get in Touch. Get Involved.

Are you ready to get involved with policy advocacy in your state?
If so, contact us for help or to join in our advocacy work in your state.

 

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