Historic Gains for Homeless Children and Youth in New Education Law
For Immediate Release: December 10, 2015
Contact: Barbara Duffield, (202) 364-7392
Washington – The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) today applauded the inclusion of nearly all of NAEHCY’s recommendations to strengthen education programs for homeless youth in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The new law improves the education of more than 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness – from early childhood through high school graduation.
“The bill signed today is the culmination of a decade of advocacy and represents the best practices in educating homeless students from states and school districts across the country,” said Barbara Duffield, NAEHCY’s Director of Policy and Programs. “We look forward to working with schools, communities, families, and youth to implement these historic gains.”
Under ESSA, the new law:
- Provides appropriate school personnel with the training to identify, enroll, and support homeless children and youth.
- Assists young homeless children to access early childhood programs.
- Boosts academic achievement by ensuring that homeless children and youth can stay in the same school when it is in their best educational interest.
- Improves high school graduation and college readiness by maximizing credit accrual, ensuring college counseling and access to financial aid, providing school stability during the vulnerable transition from middle school to high school, and requiring states to report disaggregated achievement and graduation data for homeless youth.
- Increases dedicated funding for school district efforts to educate homeless children by over 20% percent and increases local flexibility to use additional federal funding streams to serve homeless children and youth.
Homeless children and youth represent 2.3 percent of all school-age students and 30 percent of all school-age students living in extreme poverty. These children and youth face basic educational challenges, such as lacking supplies and a reasonable environment in which to do homework. Their learning is compromised by high rates of mobility, hunger, illness, mental health conditions, abuse, neglect, and trauma.
For many homeless children and youth, school is their best lifeline. NAEHCY believes that ESSA will assist students experiencing homelessness to help reach their dreams – by helping them complete high school and continue on to higher education, their best hope of avoiding poverty and homelessness as adults.
“Education is the most important thing to me, because I know this is the only way I can change my life to overcome the poverty I was raised in, to reach my dreams for the future,” said Trista Smith, a NAEHCY Scholar from Richmond, VA.
The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national membership association dedicated to educational excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Our members work in public schools, state departments of education, early childhood programs, colleges and universities, and community organizations to support the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth, from early childhood through post-secondary education.