National Coalition for the Homeless
Sunday, February 10, 2002
On Tuesday, January 8, President Bush signed into law the "No Child Left Behind Act." This legislation reauthorizes the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act's Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, along with most other federal elementary and secondary education programs.
The McKinney-Vento Act is the federal law that entitles children who are homeless to a free, appropriate public education, and requires schools to remove barriers to their enrollment, attendance, and success in school.
The new legislation incorporates many policies and practices that have proven successful at the local and state level. These provisions are designed to improve the school stability, access, and support -- and therefore the academic achievement -- of children and youth who are homeless.
Highlights include the following:
School districts will be required to keep children who are homeless in the same school they attended when permanently housed, or the school they last attended, if that is the choice of the parent or guardian. Under the new law, students may remain in that school for the duration of their homelessness, or, if they become housed during the academic year, for the remainder of the academic year.
School districts will be required to provide transportation to ensure that students who are homeless can continue their education in the school they had been attending before becoming homeless, or the school they last attended, at the request of the parent or guardian.
School districts will be required to immediately enroll students who are homeless, even if they do not have the papers normally required for enrollment.
Every school district will be required to appoint a "liaison," or contact person for students who are homeless. The liaison is to ensure access to education and support services, identify students in homeless situations, and disseminate notice of educational rights.
The authorized funding level, or ceiling, for the EHCY program will be more than doubled, from $30 million in 1994 to $70 million for 2002. For FY2002, Congress appropriated $50 million dollars for the EHCY program. This represents a $15 million increase above the current level, and will enable schools to help thousands more children and youth experiencing homelessness.
For summaries of the legislation, as well as the full text of the legislation, please see the EHCY reauthorization page.
In addition, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, National Center on Homeless Education, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Network for Youth are collaborating to develop technical assistance materials to assist the implementation of the new law. Issue briefs that explain key legislative provisions, and offer strategies for implementing them, will be available very soon.