Helping Youth Experiencing Homelessness — #txlege Bills We Support
This session, Texas Appleseed supports legislation that increases supports for kids aging out of foster care, ensures students who are homeless are not given out-of-school suspensions (which assumes they have a home to go to when they aren’t in school) and makes it easier for homeless youth to get driver’s licenses and state IDs — a key to greater stability.
Bills We Support
HB 811 (Rep. White) & SB 424 (Sen. West)
Youth experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to succeeding in the classroom, including lack of stable housing and support from caring adults; limited access to basic necessities like food and medical services; lack of consistent access to bathing and laundry facilities; unreliable transportation; and histories of trauma and abuse, among others. HB 811 and SB 424 would have schools consider how a student’s homelessness or foster care status contributed to a disciplinary infraction and use that as a factor under TEC Sec. 37.001(a)(4) in deciding what action to take. The school could refer the student to supports or services rather than make a disciplinary referral.
HB 692 (Rep. White) & SB 1001 (Sen. Watson)
These bills would end out-of-school suspension for homeless youth and direct schools to identify better alternatives. Most homeless youth are suspended from school for code of conduct violations, which vary between school districts; however, these discretionary suspensions are often for behavior such as talking back to teachers, using profanity, and even skipping school. Sending kids out of the classroom and school does not serve to solve these issues, but rather puts an already at-risk population further behind in school.
HB 123 (Rep. White) & SB 481 (Sen. Watson)
Foster children and homeless children or youth often find it difficult to obtain forms of identification. Having identification is critical in helping youth obtain stability and employment. HB 123 and SB 481 would make it easier for these young people to get identification by waiving any associated fees and allowing homeless youth to obtain a birth record without parental consent. Homeless and foster youth can also use their school or regional DFPS office as their residence for the purposes of getting an ID.
Our Core blog has more updates on bills in our other Project areas — we blogged about bills related to Fair Financial Services on April 16. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date details regarding hearings, bill movement and more.