Newsletter (October 25, 2023)

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Q3 State Policy Progress

As we close the third quarter of 2023, lawmakers in a number of states have advanced important reforms to address child and youth homelessness. While some bills crossed the finish line, other bills are continuing to work their way through the legislative process. Below we highlight a few new state policy wins and update the state of play on some of the state policies described in our more comprehensive Q2 state policy update.

Some Q3 highlights include:

  • Maine has implemented a pilot program offering up to $750 in direct assistance to families and youth at risk of homelessness. In addition, SchoolHouse Connection is working on legislation to waive fees for vital documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates, ensuring access to transportation for students experiencing homelessness.
  • In California, SHC supported legislation including AB 373, which mandates priority access for homeless and foster children in school intersession programs, and AB 789, aimed at establishing standardized Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for state and federal aid. These bills, championed by organizations like the Sycamores and John Burton Advocates for Youth, aim to enhance opportunities for homeless students by removing restrictive mandates and ensuring clearer pathways to financial aid.
  • In New York, the State University of New York (SUNY) system, in collaboration with SHC, is establishing homeless higher education liaisons across all 64 SUNY campuses, along with a Homeless Higher Education Liaison Learning Network. SchoolHouse Connection is also partnering with organizations like Young Invincibles and the New York Basic Needs Coalition to advocate for similar liaisons in The City University of New York (CUNY) system. Additionally, SHC is working with lawmakers on legislation (S4247, S4248, and A4029) to designate higher education homeless liaisons and create a pilot program supporting students experiencing homelessness in higher education.
  • In Michigan, SHC has been working to support groups like the Michigan Network for Youth and Families,  Michigan’s Children and others on a package of bills that will assist homeless youth without parental consent, establishing childcare standards, and enabling homeless youth to consent to their healthcare, ensuring their safety and education.
  • SHC was pleased to support the advocacy of Horizons for Homeless Children by submitting support for H.147 in Massachusetts which aims to provide automatic childcare assistance to homeless families in shelters, expand aid for doubled-up homeless families, and grant Early Intervention services eligibility to children aged 0-3 meeting the McKinney-Vento homelessness definition.
  • Proposed bills in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Michigan advocate for making FAFSA completion a high school graduation requirement, with SHC working on amendments to support unaccompanied homeless youth and former foster youth in maximizing financial aid.

Hot off the press! Model State Statutes: Youth and Young Adult Homelessness

We’re excited to introduce “Model State Statutes: Youth and Young Adult Homelessness” – a groundbreaking publication co-authored by SchoolHouse Connection and nine other organizations, and informed by youth and young adults with lived experience. This comprehensive resource, supported generously by The Raikes Foundation and Baker McKenzie, is more than just a book; it’s a tribute to the relentless efforts of policymakers, practitioners, and advocates dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.

In these pages, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge, insights, and proven strategies to inspire change. Topics include vital documents, access to health care, housing, employment, LGBTQIA2S+, education, immigration, and more. This publication not only educates but empowers, encouraging states to embrace comprehensive and compassionate solutions over narrow and punitive measures. 

    Join SchoolHouse Connection’s Advocacy Network

    At SchoolHouse Connection, we believe the most effective solutions are informed by those closest to the problem. 

    That’s why we engage educators, advocates, youth, and parents with lived experience in our state and federal policy advocacy. We provide the training and tools to engage public officials in various state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, including by setting up and accompanying you in virtual meetings.

    Please use the form below to indicate your interest.

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