Changing Your State`s Laws to Support Students Experiencing

26th Annual Conference
October 2014
Why should NAEHCY folks get
involved with policy?
You are experts.
• No one else knows what you know.
• Good policies are informed policies.
No one else is likely to take up these issues.
• Children and youth experiencing homelessness are
invisible to the public and to policymakers.
As constituents, you have the most power to effect
Why should NAEHCY folks get
involved with state policy?
All the same reasons, plus:
• Many of the laws that affect children and families
are state laws.
• Education
• Child welfare
Many of the laws that affect unaccompanied youth
are state laws.
Let’s get started
What law changes do you need in your state?
Where should you start?
Who should be on your team?
How do you approach policymakers?
When will we be done?
Check out NAEHCY’s “State Advocacy Toolkit” at
What law changes do you need in your
Can unaccompanied youth access medical care or
Can they get their own birth certificates and access their
school records?
Do state laws support or hinder McKinney-Vento
Do state laws make it harder for homeless youth to
accrue credits? Participate in sports?
Are there barriers to accessing benefits and services?
How does child welfare law affect your students? Do
foster youth have legal rights that could benefit
homeless youth?
What law changes do you need in your
state? (cont.)
 Ask young people. (How?)
 Ask service providers and community
members. (Who?)
 It’s important to understand the barrier, why
it is happening, and what specific steps could
address it.
 It’s important to distinguish between
implementation problems and legislative
Where should you start?
Do you have a deeper understanding and specific
experience with some issues?
Are some issues less controversial than others?
Are there law changes that require little or no cost?
What issues can rally the broadest and strongest
Have your governor or legislators announced related
initiatives you can build on?
Can you build on laws that are already in place, in
your state or elsewhere?
Where should you start?
 Research can be helpful!
 CHYP,, and NAEHCY collaborated
on CA report
Who should be on your team?
Who really knows the issue?
 Youth, practitioners (which ones?)
Who can help with the detail work?
 Lawyers (Pro bono? Legal services? NAEHCY?)
Who has relationships at the Capitol?
 You probably know someone who knows a state
legislator or two. (Where to start?)
Who is likely to support your bill?
 Don’t forget the media! (Good candidates?)
Who might oppose your bill?
How do you approach policymakers?
Let the people with the best relationships start the
 Have a specific proposal and concise justification
 Ask for what you want, and know what you’re willing to
Have data and real stories!
 Be prepared to answer questions and concerns.
 Go get information you don’t have.
Prepare witnesses to testify about bills. (Who?)
How do you approach policymakers?
Solicit letters of support from constituents. (Who?)
 Especially members of relevant committees.
 It helps to share draft letters.
Prepare witnesses to testify about bills. (Who?)
 Build momentum. (What organizations are good at
 The media
 Advocacy days, especially led by youth
 Professional associations
Wait: Am I going to get into trouble
for this??
Lobbying: asking 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.
Can you lobby?
 Check to be sure that you can’t.
 I’ve been amazed at how many liaisons can lobby,
and how many superintendents support it.
 If you can’t lobby:
 Advocate!
 Find others to “make the pitch” for you.
 Act as a private individual - you don’t lose your
rights as a citizen just because you work for
When will we be done?
 When you win.
 It may require compromise (SB 177).
 It may require multiple tries (AB 951).
 You may need to add supporters, raise the issue’s
profile, tweak your proposal, and/or address
opponents’ concerns.
 If the legislature isn’t fruitful, administrative
agencies may be able to help.
MD Higher Education Tuition Waiver:
Context: Pre-existing Foster Youth Tuition Waiver
 Waives tuition/fees at public institutions for youth under 25 who
were in foster care in Maryland as of age 13 (and younger
siblings of such youth)
 Expanded in 2013
Process: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Task Force
 Included leadership from state agencies (education, child
welfare, juvenile justice, housing, public health) as well as
advocates, service providers, youth
 Consulted with higher education leadership, and NAEHCY
 Published report and recommendations in Dec. 2013
 Key recommendation: expand foster youth tuition waiver to
unaccompanied homeless youth
What Does the Tuition Waiver Cover?
Tuition and fees at MD public colleges (2 and 4 year),
universities, and state-approved vocational
programs (usually housed in community colleges)
For unaccompanied homeless youth up to age 25
 As verified by same parties as FAFSA
Full-time or part-time student
Implementation: The Next Phase
Reconnect with agency/institutional leadership
Share information and listen to concerns
Identify gaps in legislation and work with leadership
to develop implementation guidance
Consult experts
Engage youth
Conduct outreach to target population
Rely on champions in ongoing campaign
CA Successes
SB 177: Homeless Youth Education Success Act
 Deems homeless students to meet residency
requirements for interscholastic sports, immediately
upon enrollment
 Requires the California Department of Education and
the Department of Social Services to:
 Organize an inter-agency work group
 Develop policies and practices to support homeless
children and youth
 Ensure that child abuse and neglect reporting
requirements do not create barriers
CA Successes (cont.)
AB 1068: Pupil Records
 Gives unaccompanied youth age 14 and over the
right to access and consent to disclose their school
 Extends these rights to caregivers who enroll
students in school using California’s caregiver
authorization affidavit
 Prevents schools from releasing directory
information of students experiencing homelessness,
unless a parent expressly consents
CA Successes (cont.)
AB 309: CalFresh (SNAP) for Homeless Youth
 Clarifies that there is no minimum age
requirement for unaccompanied homeless
youth to apply
 Requires consideration of unaccompanied
youth as their own household if applicable
 Expedites benefits
 Provides for training for LEA liaisons and
homeless shelter operators about CalFresh
CA Successes (cont.)
AB 652: Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act:
Homeless Children
 Clarifies that the fact that a child/youth is
homeless or classified as an unaccompanied minor
is not, in and of itself, a sufficient basis for
reporting child abuse or neglect
CA Successes (cont.)
AB 1733: Free ID cards and birth certificates for
homeless adults, children and youth
Must provide verification of homelessness from a
homeless liaison, service provider, or attorney
 Includes homeless children and youth under ED
 Language should allow homeless youth to obtain
birth certificates on their own
CA Successes (cont.)
AB 1806: Increasing graduation rates
 Adds homeless students to existing foster youth
exemption from district-specific graduation
requirements if they change districts after their 2nd
year of high school.
 Ensures partial credits for students who change
schools during homelessness
 Requires liaisons to be invited to meetings regarding
potential expulsions of homeless students (does not
require attendance).
Contact Information
 Monisha Cherayil
 [email protected]
 410-625-9409 x. 234
 Shahera Hyatt
 [email protected]
 Patricia Julianelle
 [email protected]
 (202) 436-9087
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