On June 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed “The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” HR 2353, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

SchoolHouse Connection applauds the passage of this legislation, which would improve access to high-quality career and technical education for youth experiencing homelessness. For many homeless youth, career and technical education may offer the best path to living-wage employment that will help them escape poverty, and therefore never experience homelessness again.

HR 2353 improves access to CTE programs for youth experiencing homelessness in many important ways.

  1. The bill adds individuals experiencing homelessness, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act’s education subtitle, to the definition of “special populations.”[1] This addition means that:
  • Grant applications to the Secretary of Education must describe how the entity will use grant funds to benefit individuals experiencing homelessness directly;
  • Annual, independent evaluations of grant activities must include performance indicators disaggregated by homelessness;
  • Every state’s strategic workforce vision and goals must include individuals experiencing homelessness;
  • State plans must describe how the state will improve outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness;
  • Local applications must describe how the applicant will prepare individuals experiencing homelessness for high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations that will lead to self-sufficiency;
  • Local funds must be used to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with the skills necessary to pursue high-skill, high-wage occupations;
  • Comprehensive local needs assessments must include an evaluation of the performance of individuals experiencing homelessness;
  • Professional development required for teachers and instructional support personnel must prepare them to provide accommodations for individuals experiencing homelessness; and
  • Permissible uses of funds include:
    • programs and activities that increase access, engagement and success in science and math fields particularly for individuals experiencing homelessness; and
    • efforts to increase participation of individuals experiencing homelessness.
  1. The bill adds representatives of agencies serving children and youth experiencing homelessness to the entities that must be consulted in developing the state plan.[2]
  2. The bill adds representatives of agencies serving children and youth experiencing homelessness to the entities that must be involved in the required, comprehensive local needs assessment.[3]

SchoolHouse Connection looks forward to continuing our work on CTE reauthorization, which now moves on to the U.S. Senate. In particular, we will look to advance provisions that would align career and technical education with the recently-passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act, including efforts to help youth overcome barriers to access or success caused by fees, lack of transportation, lack of a parent or guardian, lack of records normally required for enrollment, and mobility.

[1] Current 20 USC §2302(29); bill section 7(19)(D).

[2] Current 20 USC §2342(b)(1)(A); bill section 121(2).

[3] The local needs assessment is not in current law; bill section 131(3).

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