Senate Passes Booker Amendment Strengthening Educational Support for Foster Children and Homeless Youth
Legislation will help provide essential information for teachers, policy makers and the community groups to better support our most vulnerable youth to reach their full potential
Washington – The Senate has approved a bipartisan amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.) to provide essential information for teachers, policy makers and community groups to better support our nation’s foster children and homeless youth. Booker’s amendment (#2169) will now be included in the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), legislation that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Sens. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Grassley (R-IA), Ayotte (R-NH) are cosponsors of Booker’s amendment.
“Foster students are less likely to achieve academic proficiency, more likely to change schools during the academic year and more likely to drop out of high school and not graduate. We have a moral obligation not to leave any of our young people on the sidelines,” Sen. Booker said. “This bipartisan amendment strengthens support to some of our most vulnerable students - our homeless youth and students in the foster care system. I’m proud that this amendment has passed and will continue working to strengthen our education policies to create pathways of support and opportunity for all of our children.”
There are more than half a million foster children in the United States. Over 25% of former foster children experience homelessness. Approximately 25% spend time incarcerated and about 33% receive public assistance.
One in 45 children, or 1.6 million children, are homeless in the U.S. every year. Homeless students are twice as likely as non-homeless students to have to repeat a grade, be expelled, get suspended, or drop out of high school.
Early targeting and identification of these students enables schools to better help homeless and foster students achieve academically, graduate high school, and bolster their post-secondary school and life options.
The Booker Amendment supports homeless and foster youth in the following ways:
· Adds reporting for graduation rates to the State and school district report cards.
· Ensures educators and the public are aware of how foster and homeless children and youth are performing on critical elements compared to their peers.
· Provides essential information for educators, policy makers and the public in improving educational outcomes for these students.
Under current law (ESEA), states and school districts put out public “report cards” that provide information on how students are achieving academically and the quality of the teachers that provide them instruction. Included in this reporting is how disadvantaged subgroups of students (major ethnic and racial groups, low income, English learners and students with disabilities) are performing to ensure the public and educators are aware of and working to reduce achievement gaps.
The Every Child Achieves Act maintains this public reporting but updates and improves these report cards. Included in this update is reporting on State assessment results for all of the subgroups listed above, plus foster and homeless children and youth. The Every Child Achieves Act includes similar reporting for graduation rates that states will determine for use in State designed accountability systems, but this information is not reported separately for foster and homeless children and youth.
Booker’s amendment is supported by the following youth advocates:
· Foster Ed, an initiative of The National Center for Youth Law
· National Network for Youth
· The National Association for Homeless Children and Youth