Words to Reality: We "Halve" Your Back
By Patricia Julianelle, Director of State Projects and Legal Affairs
Drafting laws is boring. It’s obsessing over the placement of commas and the use of “and” versus “or.” But consider the difference between “have” and “halve” to the child in the cartoon below, and you can see how important it is, especially when children’s rights and well-being are at stake.
(Thanks to Jason Love for use of the cartoon!)
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is millions of words and commas, and after years of advocacy, it is now the law. This week, ESSA’s amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act take effect. That is when the real work begins, as schools turn those words into early childhood education services, school stability, full participation, and high school graduation for real children and youth. At NAEHCY, our focus has shifted from law to implementation, as we strive to provide schools and students with tools to make the words real.
One of our newest tools is Designating LEA McKinney-Vento Liaisons: Considerations Under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. It is built on just a few new legal words that we hope will have a big, positive impact on schools and students. ESSA requires that McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons must be “able to carry out the duties described” in the law. 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(J)(ii). Those duties include a detailed list of ten responsibilities (up from eight) that ensure identification, enrollment, transportation, participation, referrals, and involvement of parent, children and youth from birth to higher education. 42 USC §11432(g)(6)(A). They also add a new requirement to ensure “school personnel providing services under this subtitle [of the McKinney-Vento Act] receive professional development and other support.” 42 USC §11432(g)(6)(A)(ix). At the same time, liaisons must participate “in professional development and other technical assistance activities… as determined appropriate by the [State] Coordinator.” 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(J)(iv).
All of those words give liaisons a lot of work! The “ability to carry out” that work means the liaison has the time, authority, knowledge and capacity to complete all the duties described in the law. That’s where our Designating LEA McKinney-Vento Liaisons comes into play. It summarizes the law and reminds school administrators of important considerations in choosing whom to designate as the liaison. It also cautions against naming the liaison as the foster care point of contact in those LEAs where foster care points of contact are required.
In addition to the Liaison tool, we have posted many ESSA resources on our website, including:
- Sample Dispute Resolution Process for Title I, Part A’s new Foster Care Provisions
- Considerations for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in Developing Transportation Procedures for Students in Foster Care Under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
- Summary of the major amendments on homelessness and foster care
- Power Point presentations and other training tools
We’ve also updated existing documents to reflect ESSA amendments, including:
- The Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Education Rights of Children and Youth in Homeless Situations
- The McKinney-Vento Act and School Fees
- Privacy and Homelessness: A Technical Assistance Tool
We hope these tools will help turn words into educational success for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Let us know what else you need and how else we can help, and follow us on Facebook to get the latest information on NAEHCY and homeless education.