Back in December a large group of Oregon religious leaders wrote Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley a letter asking that they co-sponsor two critical pieces of legislation that would help provide better educational opportunities for homeless students and foster kids.
Late this afternoon Senator Wyden's office called me from Washington, D.C. to announce that the senator has signed on as a co-sponsor of both bills.
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.
I know that religious leaders and homeless advocates across Oregon will join me in applauding Senator Wyden's leadership on this issue.
Senator Wyden's staff in Oregon has also extended an invitation for a sit-down meeting with the senator and faith leaders and we will be following up on that soon.
We'll continue to press Senator Merkley for his support as well.