What`s Hot and What`s Not: A Federal Policy Update

Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth
Barbara Duffield, Director of Policy and Programs, NAEHCY
Our Topics Today
The Federal Budget
 GAO Report on Homeless Education
 Elementary and Secondary Education Act
reauthorization (including McKinney-Vento)
 Universal preschool legislation
 Higher Education Act reauthorization
 Child Care Development Block Grant
 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
 Homeless Children and Youth Act
Federal Budget/FY2015 Appropriations
 McKinney-Vento homeless education funded
at $65 million in FY2014 (sequestration mostly
 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funded at
$115 million
 Congress once again failed to complete action
on FY2015 budget before end of fiscal year
 Continuing resolution passed last week to
fund government until December 11 (after
the election)
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014
New Title I and Homelessness
Funds available under sections 1124, 1124A,
1125 and 1125A of the ESEA may be used to
provide homeless children and youths with
services not ordinarily provided to other
students under those sections, including
supporting the liaison designated pursuant to
section 722(g)( l )(J)(ii) of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act, and providing
transportation pursuant to section 722(g)( 1
)(J)(iii) of such Act.
Federal Guidance Issued July 2014
Title I Part A, including funds reserved under
section 1113(a)(3), may:
 Be used in full to support the position of the
 Be used to provide transportation to the
school of origin
LEAs must continue to provide comparable
services; using Title I for the liaison and school
of origin transportation do not satisfy the
comparable services requirement
Government Accountability Office
Report on Homeless Education
Published August 2014. Examined:
(1) how districts identify and serve homeless
students and challenges they face
(2) how USDE (ED) and states collaborate with
other service providers to address student
needs and any barriers
(3) the extent to which USDE (ED) monitors
program compliance
GAO Report: Barriers and Challenges
 Under-identification of homeless children
 Limited staff and resources to provide services
 Cost of transportation
 Student stigma associated with homelessness
 Responding to students made homeless by
natural disasters
 Different definitions of homelessness pose
barriers to interagency collaboration
GAO Report :
Federal Findings and Recommendation
 ED has no plan to ensure adequate oversight
of all states
 Lacks assurance that states are complying
with program requirements
 Other priorities and a lack of staff capacity as
reasons for decrease in oversight
 Recommendation: develop a plan to ensure
adequate oversight of the EHCY program
McKinney-Vento, Title I, and
Elementary and Secondary Education Act
 Congress has been working on this legislation
since 2007, but partisan differences and other
Congressional priorities have prevented it
from moving forward
 Major action in 2007, 2011, and 2013…
 Nothing at all in 2014
 2015? Depends on the priorities of the new
Major Issues in ESEA Reauthorization
McKinney-Vento Personnel: State Coordinators and
Local Liaisons
School Stability Provisions (“Feasibility”)
Credits/Academic Support
Extra-curricular activities
Unaccompanied Youth
Preschool Children
Funding Level
Title I, Part A Setasides
Children and Youth in Foster Care
Strong Start for America’s Children Act:
S. 1697 and H.R. 3462
New federal-state partnership to increase access to high
quality prekindergarten programs for low and moderate
income children
A phased-in federal-state match with formula grants to
states based on the state population of low-income 4year-olds
Eligible states must offer state-funded preK, have early
learning standards, and be able to link preK data to K-12
McKinney-Vento-esque requirements for local
applications: outreach, identify, enroll, stabilize,
transport homeless children
Higher Education Act Reauthorization
S. 1754, the Higher Education Access and Success Act for
Homeless and Foster Youth
Most of this legislation included in Senate Committee
Proposal passed on June 25, 2015
 Clarifies that unaccompanied homeless youth under
age 24 are considered independent students;
 Expands the entities authorized to make
determinations of unaccompanied homeless youth
 Requires financial aid administrators to make
determinations of unaccompanied homeless youth
status for youth who cannot get determinations from
other authorities
HEA Bill for Homeless/Foster, 2
 Eliminates the requirement for unaccompanied
homeless youths’ status to be re-determined every
 Students will continue to be independent unless the
student’s circumstances have changed, or the financial
aid administrator has conflicting information; and
 Requires the Student Loan Ombudsman to receive,
review and expeditiously resolve complaints regarding
the independent student status of homeless and foster
 Provides homeless and foster youth in-state tuition to
reduce barriers to college attendance due to lack of
financial support
HEA Bill for Homeless/Foster, 3
Designates a single point of contact to assist homeless
and foster youth to access and complete higher
Requires IHEs to:
 Post public notice about financial and other assistance
available to homeless and foster youth;
 Develop a plan to assist homeless and foster youth to
access housing resources during and between
academic terms; and
 Include in applications questions about homeless or
foster status, that youth can answer voluntarily to
receive assistance accessing financial aid and other
The Child Care and Development
Block Grant Act, S. 1086
Bipartisan, bi-cameral agreement
 Passed the House on September 16
 Held hostage in Senate last week
 Movement in Lame Duck session possible
The Child Care and Development
Block Grant Act, S. 1086
Require States to:
 Establish a grace period for homeless children while
families comply with immunization and other health and
safety requirements
 Use funds for:
 Procedures to permit enrollment of children
experiencing homelessness while required
documentation is obtained;
 Training and technical assistance on identifying and
serving homeless children and their families;
 Specific outreach to homeless families
The Child Care and Development
Block Grant Act, S. 1086
Require States to:
 Coordinate services with early childhood programs
serving children experiencing homelessness
 Establish a sliding fee scale that is not a barrier to
families receiving federal childcare assistance.
The legislation also requires that families who initially
qualify for childcare receive childcare services for at
least a year, regardless of changes in income or work,
training, or education status.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and
Trafficking Prevention Act, S. 2646
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act provides:
 Street Outreach: relationship building, prevention,
counseling, referrals for housing and services.
 Basic Center: 21 day youth-appropriate emergency
shelter for homeless minors with intensive family
reunification when appropriate
 Transitional Living: longer-term housing with youthappropriate services for homeless 16-21 year olds with a
focus on health, education and employment
 National Hotline: 1-800-RUNAWAY
 National Training & Technical Assistance Center
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and
Trafficking Prevention Act, S. 2646
Makes updates to Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
 Includes new provisions to combat trafficking and
 Increases the length of stays in Basic Centers from 21 to 30
 Requires RHYA grantees to assist youth with completing
the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 18
Action Step:
 Contact Your Senators: ask them to join S. 2646 as a
The Homeless Children and Youth Act:
Why We Need It
HUD’s definition of homelessness excludes families
and youth staying temporarily with others because
they have no place else to go, or in motels (if the
family uses their own income); as a result, they can’t
get HUD homeless services
 HUD forces communities to prioritize programs for
chronically homeless adults at the expense of
families and youth
 HUD’s count of homelessness doesn’t include most
homeless families and youth
The Homeless Children and Youth Act:
H.R. 5186 and S. 2653
What it does: Eliminates complex requirements for
motel and doubled-up families and youth to be eligible
for HUD homeless assistance; streamlines referrals;
improves collaboration
How it does it: Amends HUD’s definition of
homelessness to include children and youth verified as
homeless by school liaisons, RHYA programs, Head
Start, Health Care for the Homeless programs, etc.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act:
H.R. 5186 and S. 2653
What it does: Allows communities to meet the needs
that they identify – including families and youth
How it does it: Prohibits HUD from prioritizing one
group over another when awarding grants if it doesn’t
meet a community’s needs assessment. Currently,
HUD forces prioritization of chronically homeless, even
if that is not the community’s greatest need.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act:
H.R. 5186 and S. 2653
What it does: Shows a truer, more comprehensive
view of homelessness to Congress and the public
How it does it: Requiring data from all federal
homeless programs to be part of HUD’s Report to
Congress; and requiring HUD data and funding
patterns to be made public on HUD’s website
The Homeless Children and Youth Act:
H.R. 5186 and S. 2653
1. Urge your US Representative and US Senators to
become co-sponsors of HCYA:
2. Add state and local organizations to the HCYA
endorsers list: www.naehcy.org
3. Spread the word
Why Get Involved in Policy Advocacy?
Good policies are informed policies
 No one else knows what you know - no one else
is likely to take up these issues
 Children and youth experiencing homelessness
are invisible to the public and to policymakers
 As a constituent, you have the most power to
effect change
Advocacy v. Lobbying
Lobbying: activities that ask legislators to take a
specific position on a specific piece of legislation, or
urge others to do the same (IRS definition for nonprofits)
Advocacy: any activity that a person or organization
undertakes to influence policy - includes educating,
providing information, arguing a cause
What if I Can’t Lobby?
Check to be sure that you cant; be mindful of the
narrow, specific definition of lobbying
Find others to “make the pitch” for you, but stay
engaged in general advocacy activities
Act as a private individual - you don’t lose your
rights as a citizen just because you work for
Where Do I Begin?
It’s all about relationships!
 Know who represents your community or
communities and school district: www.house.gov
and www.senate.gov
 Make it part of your work plan to develop an
ongoing relationship with at minimum of one or two
Congressional offices
Methods: Meetings, Letters, Calls
Face-to-Face meetings are ideal for beginning a
 Variety of possible locations: office, program site
 Legislators don’t do details, but if they commit to
an issue, it is GOLD
 Staff are critical; they have tremendous influence.
Good relations with staff are essential.
Meetings: When?
Now! Before a crisis, bill, or vote; background
education is essential for relationship-building
At the beginning of a new Congressional season new staff, new priorities
As specific legislation develops, it is important weigh
in to help shape it
After a bill is introduced, we need co-sponsors
Think of the meeting as a conversation, not a
presentation: watch for body language cues, pick up
on their interests, encourage questions, ask
Meetings, Continued
Don’t be intimidated - you are the expert! They work for
If you don’t know an answer, tell them you’ll get back to
them; don’t be thrown by jargon
Present broad statements, supported by specifics
(“accomplishments and challenges”)
Research the Member’s priorities - frame the issue
Provide statistics, real stories that illustrate the need for
policy change
Arrange visits with youth and families if possible
Meeting: Wrapping Up
Provide only a few concise written materials (bullets and
white space!)
Conclude with your “ask:” prioritize your requests and state
the specific commitments you are seeking (it doesn’t have to
be a bill number; i.e. “We’d like to ask for your support of
adequate funding for homeless education; changing HUD’s
definition of homelessness;…)
Refer them to NAEHCY for policy specifics (“Have your people
in Washington contact my people in Washington.”)
Follow up with a thank you letter that summarizes the
meeting and the commitment you are seeking
Offer yourself as a resource to them
Keep in touch - find ways to maintain the relationship
separate from the “ask” (i.e. newsletter, news stories,
invitations, accomplishments)
It’s “Who You Know:” Getting Connected
Other people can help pave the way to a
 State legislators
 Mayors
 City Council Members
 Community partners and civic groups
 Business leaders
 Spouses
 Ask for their help with getting a meeting, urging the
member to take a specific position, or making the
issue a priority
Letters are an important advocacy method as
legislation develops, or to gain co-sponsors once a
bill is introduced
Always personalize and localize letters, make them
Fax is better than snail mail
Emails are least effective; but if you send one, be
sure to add your mailing address
Be specific, and request the favor of a response
Numbers matter! Circulate widely and “gently”
remind others to follow through
Get letters from diverse community groups
(businesses, others beyond the “usual” suspects)
Phone Calls
Before key votes or decisions, phone calls can make
a difference
 State that you are a constituent
 State specific request: “Vote yes on the Murray
amendment to increase homeless education
 Urge others to make calls
Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”
If a member takes an action to support the issue whether a vote, a letter, or a bill sponsorship - dont
forget to say thank you
 Let them know the specific benefits of their actions
 Give awards and recognition where appropriate
There’s Strength in Numbers
Ask other groups to take up the issue - get it on their
 Local and state homeless coalitions
 Children’s advocacy groups
 Education advocacy groups
 Junior League
 Faith-based groups
 Businesses
 Gather email addresses of friends, colleagues to
distribute materials
Shine a Spotlight: Media Attention
Local press articles get legislators attention
Invite reporters to visit program (check with press
offices, releases, etc.)
Forward good articles to your legislators
Invite legislators to participate in press events
Write op-eds that praise or ask for leadership
Write letters to the editor - look for “pegs”
Stay in Touch with Us!
Legislative alerts and email updates:
[email protected]
[email protected]

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