Biggert pushes forward on homeless education
Updated: April 30, 2012 1:52AM
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-13th) is applauding committee passage of legislation she wrote for homeless kids as part of a bill to revamp the nation’s kindergarten through grade 12 education guidelines.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday voted on a House education package (House Resolution 3990), designed to reform No Child Left Behind. At Biggert’s request, the bill included provisions from legislation, H.R. 1253, the Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act, which she introduced last March to build upon the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth programs implemented under NCLB.
“Being without a home should not mean being without an education,” said Biggert, who authored the original EHCY provisions in 2001 and serves as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness. “These kids face unique challenges that can make it extremely difficult to enroll in school and make it to class each day.
“My legislation will help break down those barriers and provide our schools the resources and flexibility they need to give homeless kids a chance at a brighter future. I’m very grateful to my colleagues on both sides for working with me to include this important legislation in the House package.”
During 2009-10, 939,903 homeless students were identified by public schools, an increase of 38 percent since 2006-07. Advocates fear the number will continue to grow due to the ongoing economic downturn. Biggert’s legislation aims to help meet the needs of the homeless youth population by:
Clarifying existing language that allows homeless kids to stay in their school of origin.
Allowing the use of Title I funds to cover transportation costs for homeless children.
Providing school district homeless liaisons with professional development, training and additional resources.
Opening summer school, before and after school programs, and other educational opportunities to homeless youth.
Ensuring Title I funds are available to support the academic achievement of homeless students.
“These improvements will ensure that homeless kids can stay in the school where they feel comfortable and provide them with basic supplies, transportation to class and access to activities,” said Biggert, a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. “These provisions also will lessen bureaucratic hurdles and funding restrictions that make it harder for schools to enroll these students and provide them with the services they need.”
The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act was developed in collaboration with several national advocacy organizations and is supported by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the National Network for Youth, the Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and the National Policy & Advocacy Council on Homelessness.
“The provisions for homeless children and youth included in this legislation will help make school an oasis of stability and support when everything else is turned upside down,” said Barbara Duffield, policy director for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. “The improvements will help ensure that homeless children and youth receive the education that is their best hope of escaping homelessness as adults.”