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Federal Policy & Legislative Updates on Homeless Education Barbara Duffield, Policy Director National Association for the Education of Homeless Children.

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Presentation on theme: "Federal Policy & Legislative Updates on Homeless Education Barbara Duffield, Policy Director National Association for the Education of Homeless Children."— Presentation transcript:

1 Federal Policy & Legislative Updates on Homeless Education Barbara Duffield, Policy Director National Association for the Education of Homeless Children & Youth Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness 19 th Annual Conference Phoenix, AZ October 16, 2012

2 Federal Budget: FY2013 and Beyond Six-month “Continuing Resolution” to keep government running until after the election The Continuing Resolution will funds most federal programs at the current funding level Unclear what will happen in the “lame duck” session of Congress after the election

3 Federal Budget: Sequestration Last year, Congress failed to reach an agreement on how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion As a result, 8-10% across-the-board spending cuts will take effect on January 2, 3013 unless the U.S. Congress acts This process, called sequestration, would result in a $4 billion cut for ED programs For more info: Coalition on Human Needs -

4 McKinney-Vento Funding: Current Status Current level: $65.2 million President’s budget: $65.2 million This funding has not changed significantly in four years, while the number of homeless students in preK-12 has increased by 56% over the same time period

5 McKinney-Vento EHCY Reauthorization: “Stand Alone” Bills Reauthorization is the opportunity to make substantive changes to the law March 2011: S. 571, “The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2011” introduced in U.S. Senate (Murray/Franken/Begich) March 2011: H.R. 1253, introduced in U.S. House (Biggert/Kildee/Grijalva)

6 McKinney-Vento EHCY Reauthorization: Status Update US Senate: Committee passed ESEA reauthorization, including MV, in October 2011 US House: passed piece-meal ESEA bills, including MV, in March 2012. The fate of provisions in these bills depends on outcome of election and priorities of Administration/Congress

7 Major Issues in M-V EHCY Reauthorization McKinney-Vento Personnel: State Coordinators and Local Liaisons School Stability Provisions (“Feasibility”) Enrollment Transportation Disputes Credits/Academic Support Extra-curricular activities Unaccompanied Youth Preschool Children Funding Level Title I, Part A Setasides Children and Youth in Foster Care

8 Housing and Homeless Youth (1) Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing “Student Rule” – prohibits residents from living in LIHTC housing if they are full-time students Foster youth, single mothers, parents on cash assistance are exempted from this rule Unaccompanied homeless youth are not; forced to choose between housing and education Congressman McDermott (D-WA) and Paulsen (R-MN) introduced legislation, H.R. 3076, that adds UHY to exemptions

9 Housing and Homeless Youth (2) Congressman McDermott (D-WA) and Paulsen (R-MN) introduced legislation, H.R. 3076, in October 2011 that adds Unaccompanied Homeless Youth to exemptions Senators Franken (D-MN) and Murray (D-WA) introduced companion legislation, S. 3494, in July 2012

10 Child Care and Homeless Families Barriers to child care for homeless families, include mobility, lack of paperwork, lack of outreach and identification, and fees Without quality child care, homeless families struggle to find employment and stay homeless longer Without quality child care, homeless children are often in substandard arrangements Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – opportunities in reauthorization

11 Child Care and Homeless Families In August 2012, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Families Act, S. 3476 The legislation: Prioritizes homeless children for access to child care. Allows for a homeless child to enroll in child care immediately while necessary entry documentation is obtained. Ensures that co-pay requirements are not a barrier to child care for homeless families

12 Child Care and Homeless Families (2) S. 3476 also: Requires states to describe in their state child care plan how they will meet the needs of homeless families. Requires lead agencies to coordinate with McKinney-Vento school district liaisons and other entities serving homeless families Establishes a pilot program for increasing access to child care

13 13 What is HEARTH? The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009? Framework for how HUD’s homeless programs will operate in foreseeable future. New focus areas – more homelessness prevention, less emergency shelter; more permanent housing, less transitional housing. Homeless definition slightly expanded

14 14 HEARTH Terms - What is a CoC? Government agencies, nonprofit service providers, advocates, and homeless / formerly homeless persons working together to end homelessness in a local community or in a larger rural area of a particular state. Should you be part of the CoC? You are the voice for the kids and families you work with! Don’t assume someone else is.

15 15 Defining Homelessness HUD – streets, emergency shelter, transitional housing ED – includes staying with others or in motels because there is nowhere else to go Under HEARTH, all who fit ED definition are considered “at risk,” and will be eligible for prevention assistance. Under HEARTH, 3 new categories added to HUD definition; will be eligible for full range of homeless assistance.

16 16 HUD Definition – HEARTH Additions People losing housing within 14 days (including staying with others, or in a motel), if no resources and no subsequent permanent place. Families and youth defined as homeless by ED, if they have not been in permanent housing for a long time, have moved frequently, and can be expected to stay in that situation. Individuals / families fleeing DV or other dangerous / life threatening conditions

17 17 HUD Definition – Regulations (1) People losing housing within 14 days (including staying with others, or in a motel), if no resources and no subsequent permanent place: To prove this, the HUD is requiring that people provide written proof of eviction or obtain a statement from the owner or renter of the place where they are staying

18 18 HUD Definition – Regulations (2) People who are staying with other people are eligible for homeless assistance must prove that: 1)they moved twice in 60 days, AND 2)they did not have permanent housing for those 60 days, AND 3)that they have several conditions that would keep them without permanent housing for a long time. Each of these conditions requires verification.

19 19 HUD Definition – Regulations (3) People who pay to stay in motels are not eligible for homeless assistance, unless : 1)they can prove that they only have money to stay for 14 days or less, and 2)have no subsequent permanent place to go, and 3)no support networks needed to obtain other housing.

20 20 HR32: The Homeless Children and Youth Act Amends HUD definition of homelessness to include children/youth verified by public schools, Head Start, IDEA Part C, and RHYA programs Requires these children and youth and their families to be counted

21 HEARTH and Helping Children HEARTH will make additional changes to the way your local Continuum of Care operates. Changes may seem technical but are extremely important. Now is the time to find out what your community is planning, to influence the process on behalf of young children and their families.

22 What is advocacy? Dictionary definition: “The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.” Client and program advocacy - you do it every day! Legislative and policy advocacy - attempt to create changes in systems and policies that impact many people

23 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

24 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 non- profits) Advocacy: any activity that a person or organization undertakes to influence policy - includes educating, providing information, arguing a cause

25 What if I can ’ t lobby? Check to be sure that you can ’ t; 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 government

26 Where do I begin? It ’ s all about relationships! Know who represents your community or communities and school district: and Make it part of your work plan to develop an ongoing relationship with at minimum of one or two Congressional offices

27 Establishing Relationships: Meetings Face-to-Face meetings are ideal for beginning a relationship Variety of possible locations: –Local offices –National office –Program sites: school, shelter, non-profit office –Events

28 Meetings: Who? Legislator: if you develop a positive relationship with the legislator himself or herself, the legislator will direct staff to make the issue a priority (important because of staff turnover) U.S. Representatives often easier to reach than Senators, except in small states Legislators can be hard to reach; they don ’ t “ do ” details, nor do they have much time Staff are critical; they have tremendous influence. Good relations with staff are essential.

29 Meetings: How? Call in advance Ask to speak with scheduler (to meet with legislator) or person responsible for elementary and secondary education (staff, usually “ legislative assistant ” ) Tell them your topic, group size, and participants ( “ I ’ d like to share information about what our district/community is doing to help homeless children succeed in school, and where we need your help ” ) Follow up with a letter

30 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 In response to impending votes or actions

31 Meetings: Content and Flow Ask if they are familiar with the topic and the McKinney-Vento Act Usually, they will say no, or “ a little ” - then provide a nutshell summary If they say “ yes, ” respond with “ That ’ s great ” and find ways to include some of the basics as you speak Think of the meeting as a conversation, not a presentation: watch for body language cues, pick up on their interests, encourage questions, ask questions

32 Meetings, Continued Don ’ t be intimidated - you are the expert! They work for you. 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 accordingly Provide real case studies and stories; arrange visits with kids and families

33 Meetings: Tips for Framing M-V Brief background on child/youth homelessness; how many, who, impact on health and development - sizable portion of children living in poverty, not a small static group Explain the educational barriers created by homelessness (enrollment, mobility, poverty) M-V as door opener - no child can succeed in school if they are not enrolled and attending regularly M-V provides links to basic supports and supplies needed to succeed in school (unique service delivery system)

34 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 M-V in NCLB reauthorization; increase funding; make preschool more accessible to homeless kids…) Refer them to NAEHCY for policy specifics ( “ Have your people in Washington contact my people in Washington. ” )

35 After the Meeting: 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)

36 It ’ s “ Who You Know: ” Getting Connected Other people can help pave the way to a relationship: –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

37 Letters Important advocacy method as legislation develops Always personalize and localize letters 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)

38 Phone Calls Before key votes or decisions State that you are a constituent State specific request: “ Vote yes on the Biggert amendment to increase homeless education funding! ” Urge others to make calls

39 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 - don ’ t forget to say thank you Let them know the specific benefits of their actions Give awards and recognition where appropriate

40 There ’ s Strength in Numbers Ask other groups to take up the issue - get it on their agenda: –Local and state homeless coalitions –Children ’ s advocacy groups –Education advocacy groups –PTA –Junior League –Faith-based groups –Businesses Gather email addresses of friends, colleagues to distribute materials

41 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 ”

42 How do I stay in the loop? NAEHCY legislative list - give me your card, or write your email address on a piece of paper, or email me at NAEHCY web site:

43 NEW RESOURCES! NAEHCY – - New videos on McKinney-Vento in schools, and also homeless youth -Unaccompanied Homeless Youth toolkits -Revised youth housing report soon to be released -FAFSA tools and resources NCHE – -Webinars -New migrant youth brief -Higher education resources -Lots more!

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