Yesterday a group of Oregon religious leaders met in Wilsonville to continue planning for the upcoming Oregon Interfaith Summit on Homeless Children and Families.
The summit is being designed to help the faith community respond to the growing number of homeless children in public schools and the increase in family homelessness.
One part of our advocacy campaign is to promote federal legislation that would help local school districts better provide educational opportunities for homeless students and foster kids.
The "Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2009," S. 2800, amends the McKinney-Vento Act's Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and other related titles of the ESEA. S. 2800 makes a strong law even stronger by reinforcing and expanding its key provisions, including school stability, enrollment, and support for academic achievement. S. 2800 also expands authorized funding to meet transportation needs.
The "Fostering Success in Education Act of 2009," S. 2801, establishes a new education program to ensure that all children and youth in foster care have school stability, immediate school access, and support for academic success. S. 2801 encourages collaboration across education and child welfare agencies to cover the cost of transportation to enable foster youth to continue in their school of origin when it is in their best interest, with ultimate responsibility for the cost of transportation on child welfare agencies when necessary. S. 2801 requires school districts to collaborate with child welfare agencies to facilitate transportation in a cost-effective manner.
During our meeting on Friday we received a call from Senator Merkley's office letting us know that he has agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. Senator Wyden had already committed to doing the same.
I know I speak for many when I say how proud leaders of Oregon's faith community are that Oregon's two senators are co-sponsoring these critical pieces of legislation.