Career and Technical Education (CTE) can be an important tool for youth experiencing homelessness to gain work experience and skills in trades that can provide a living wage. CTE can lead to stable employment that can end a youth’s homelessness. In a new guest perspective, educators from Montana share data on CTE’s role in helping youth experiencing homelessness graduate high school. Given the potential for CTE to support youth experiencing homelessness, we are pleased to share that on July 31, 2018, the President signed a new CTE law that contains multiple provisions to improve access and success for youth experiencing homelessness.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The law reflects a bipartisan agreement to improve CTE and will take effect on July 1, 2019. The new CTE law contains many provisions to help youth experiencing homelessness access career and technical education. Most notably, the bill specifies that individuals experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act, are one of nine “special populations.” The bill provides many additional supports and services to special populations. The specific language in the new law that addresses special populations and youth experiencing homelessness is available here. A summary of the bill’s provisions supporting youth experiencing homelessness include:

State Plans:

  • State plans must be developed in consultation with McKinney-Vento State Coordinators.
  • State plans must describe the criteria used to assess the extent to which local applications expand access to career and technical education for special populations.
  • State plans must describe agencies’ strategies for special populations, including how they will ensure equal access and improve outcomes for special populations.

Local Plans:

  • Local plans must describe activities to prepare special populations for high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations that will lead to self-sufficiency.
  • Local plans must include a comprehensive local needs assessment that includes strategies to overcome barriers that result in lower rates of access or performance gaps for special populations, and programs designed to enable special populations to meet local levels of performance.
  • Local needs assessments must involve representatives of regional or local agencies serving homeless children and youth.


  • Local funds may be used to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for special populations participating in career and technical education, including those participating in dual or concurrent enrollment or early college high school programs, and supporting the costs associated with fees, transportation, child care, or mobility challenges for those special populations.
  • States must reserve at least $50,000 or 0.1 percent of their allocation for recruitment of special populations.
  • Innovation and Modernization grants may be used to support evidence-based strategies for special populations and online portals for special populations, which may include opportunities for mentoring, gaining financial literacy skills, and identifying career opportunities and interests, and a platform to establish online savings accounts.

Evaluation and Accountability:

  • State and local performance indicators require that states make meaningful progress toward improving the career and technical education performance of special populations.
  • Annual state reports must include actual levels of performance for special populations, disaggregated data on special populations, and quantification of any disparities or gaps in performance of special populations.
  • A national program evaluation must evaluate the extent to which career and technical education programs prepare special populations for employment in high-skill, high-wage occupations or for participation in postsecondary education.

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