SB 5065 establishes Homeless Student Education Liaisons who would provide services to identified homeless students. Homeless students are defined as students without a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence as set forth in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Districts that have demonstrated high need by identifying a minimum of fifty students as homeless; and a maximum of 5 new full-time equivalents may be allocated to any single district. The bill prohibits replacing existing resources with homeless student education liaisons staff units, unless previously existing funds are used instead to support services for homeless students.
Additionally, SB 5065 directs the Dept. of Commerce, in conjunction with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), to administer a grant program that links homeless students and their families with stable housing located in the homeless student’s school district. The grant program is limited to 15 schools per year, with schools that can demonstrate a commitment of partnership and history with eligible organizations getting preference for funding. Allowable activities for use of the grant funds are identified and include: rental assistance, transportation, emergency shelter, and housing stability case management. All beneficiaries of funds from the grant program must be low-income as defined by less than 50% of the median family income. There are reporting and data collection requirements and the grantees must compile information and report to the legislature the findings of the grantee, the housing stability of the homeless families, the academic performance of the grantee population, and any related policy recommendations.
Finally, SB 5065 defines unaccompanied homeless student and directs OSPI to report to the Governor and the legislature the number of unaccompanied homeless students enrolled in public schools, and the academic performance/education outcomes of this population.
The liaison portion of the bill goes into effect Sept. 1, 2018.
Bill as amended by the Early Learning and K-12 Committee: As amended, SB 5065 changes outcomes to opportunities in the intent section and aligns the intent language with the changes in the proposed substitute. Sections of the bill that provided for homeless student liaisons through the basic education prototypical school funding formula were removed. A state grant program with an appropriation of $1 million for each year of the 2015-17 biennium is created. A housing assistance program for homeless families with homeless students is maintained, with the null and void clause. Finally, the reporting requirement on unaccompanied homeless students by school districts and OSPI are maintained.