Legislative Progress for Homeless Youth and Children in Foster Care
During the 86th legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed bills that recognize the challenges students experiencing homelessness face at school.
- HB 811 states that homelessness status and foster care status are considered when school administrators make any discipline decision for kids. The trauma and instability children in foster care and those experiencing homelessness face can affect their behavior at school. By recognizing what factors might be contributing to kids’ behavior, this bill aims to help administrators ask, “What happened?” or “What is happening to you?” instead of “What is wrong with you?”
- HB 692 eliminates out-of-school suspension for students experiencing homelessness in almost all instances. The reality many homeless students face is that getting suspended from school leaves them without a place to go and often without access to food. This bill keeps kids who are homeless from being sent to the street for minor school misbehavior.
This session, the Legislature also passed an important bill to help young people experiencing homelessness and kids in foster care access documents needed to ensure stability in housing, employment, and school enrollment.
- HB 123 helps youth experiencing homelessness and children in foster care gain easier access to state identification certificates and driver’s licenses. The bill allows these young people to use a school or shelter as their address so they can receive these documents and includes a fee waiver for the identification documents and birth certificates needed to obtain them. Not having identification can be an obstacle to enrolling in school and securing housing and employment. This bill aims to eliminate barriers to getting these documents.
These legislative steps are an important move toward helping students and young people experiencing homelessness!