During his State of the Union address the president said:
“In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education.”
His budget, however, doesn't match his rhetoric as far as homeless students are concerned.
BACKGROUND: On Monday, February 1st, President Obama unveiled his FY2011 budget proposal. The President’s request includes $65 million for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, which is the same funding level as the past two fiscal years. In light of the recent stimulus dollars, the President’s proposed $65 million represents a cut to the current funding that is available for homeless education. The proposed funding level of $65 million is particularly inadequate in light of the recent surge in family and youth homelessness, and the EHCY program’s unique ability to assist homeless children and youth. The President has requested a historic investment in education - a $3.5 billion increase in funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s discretionary programs. Yet without specific, targeted assistance, homeless children and youth are unlikely to benefit from these reforms. The most promising instructional strategy or academic program will be of little benefit to children and youth who cannot get to school, or who are constantly changing schools due to the instability of their homeless situation. In these times of unprecedented homelessness and limited resources, failure to target federal education dollars to the poorest children and youth is fiscally irresponsible, and sets these students on a path for academic and economic failure.
NEXT STEPS: The President’s budget request marks only the beginning of the process for determining FY2011 funding; Congress ultimately makes the final budget decisions. There are many opportunities to influence the funding level for the EHCY program, but the best way is for Members of Congress to hear from you. The Congressional appropriations process takes many months to complete. However, many of the most important decisions occur in early spring. Therefore, it is imperative to communicate with Congressional offices soon, and often, throughout the entire process.
FUNDING LEVEL REQUESTED: Congress should appropriate at least $140 million in EHCY funding for FY2011. A funding level of $140 million would include the program’s fully authorized amount of $70 million, plus the ARRA homeless education funding of $70 million. The need for this funding level is more than justified given the increases in homelessness due the recession, and pre-recession needs.
1. Please write and/or visit your U.S. Senators and ask them to urge Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) to include at least $140 million for the McKinney-Vento homeless education program in the FY2011 education appropriations bill. Contact information for U.S. Senators may be found at http://www.senate.gov. A sample letter is attached.Download Fy2011alert0202
2. Please write and/or visit your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to urge Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Obey (D-7th/WI) to include at least $140 million for the McKinney-Vento homeless education program in the FY2011 education appropriations bill. Contact information for U.S. Representatives may be found at http://www.house.gov. A sample letter is attached.Download Fy2011alert0202
3. Please distribute this alert to as many partner organizations as possible, and urge them to join this effort
4. If you are a school district homeless liaison, please fill out NAEHCY’s online survey about funding needs at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Jan2010LocalLiaisonARRA This information will help us make the case for more funding for FY2011.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Barbara Duffield, 202.364.7392, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here in Oregon, for example, our public school system saw over 18,000 homeless children last year. That is a 122% from the 2003/04 school year.
The president committed during the 2008 campaign to cutting poverty in half within 10 years. Shortchanging programs for homeless kids won't help to achieve that goal.
As the faith community in Oregon and nationally tries to respond to this growing crisis, we need the president and Congress to be allies in the fight.
Thankfully, some other homeless-related programs will be receiving budget increases. Tomorrow the National Coalition for the Homeless will have updated information on that and I'll be sure to share it here.