On February 10, 2021, President Trump released his FY2021 budget proposal. The proposal is just that – a proposal. Congress, and in particular the Appropriations Committees, have the power and the responsibility to determine the actual funding that is appropriated each year for federal programs.
Nevertheless, it is extremely disturbing that the President’s budget proposal consolidates 29 federal education programs — including the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program — into a block grant, thereby diluting their specific intended purposes. States would not be required to use any of the block grant funding to support the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness; rather, States could direct the new block grant funding to any of the authorized uses of the 29 programs. Moreover, a block grant undermines the legal protections provided by the McKinney-Vento Act, including the requirements to designate school district homeless liaisons, and to ensure immediate identification, enrollment, school stability, transportation to the school of origin, dispute resolution, and the other protections of the legislation.
The protections of the McKinney-Vento Act are a blueprint for academic success, and for escaping homelessness. Without the specific protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness, and the specific dedicated funding to support their enrollment and attendance, homeless children and youth will face steep barriers to obtaining the education that is their best chance for a stronger future.
Fortunately, and as a result of strong grassroots advocacy, Congress has recognized the success and importance of the EHCY program, increasing appropriations over the last three fiscal years by 32%, from $77 million in FY2017 to $101.5 million in FY2020. But the need for increased targeted funding is greater than ever, as public schools reported 1.5 million homeless children and youth in the 2017-2018 school year – an 11% increase over the previous year, and the highest number on record.
Please take one minute now to send a letter to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to urge them to support the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY program) and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs in the fiscal year 2021 budget.
Resources and Facts: