Clark bill addresses homeless and foster youth achievement gap

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass) and Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) introduced the Homeless and Foster Youth Achievement Act, legislation to help homeless and foster youth stay in school and achieve their academic goals. Currently, states collect and release data such as graduation rates broken down by race, disability, and income level to help schools identify achievement gaps and the challenges students face in school, and this bill would add homeless and foster youth status to the existing criteria.

“Too many students in our classrooms are worried about where they will sleep that night, where their next meal will come from, or who they can turn to if they need help,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark. “Yet even as they face these unthinkable worries, they come to school eager to learn. We have a duty to make sure their hard work is rewarded with opportunity. The Homeless and Foster Youth Achievement Act helps ensure that our most vulnerable students will get the care and attention they need to succeed at school.”

“If there is one thing I consistently hear when working with these issues, it is the need to know exactly how many of our youth struggle with homelessness or have trouble adjusting to foster homes,” said Congressman Tom Marino. “Obtaining information about how many America’s youth live with these circumstances will allow states to better allocate resources and ensure students are given the proper tools to graduate high school and grow into their full potential.” 

According to a recent report by the Center for Promise at Tufts University, homeless and foster youth often face factors that persistently work against their chances of graduating from high school. Young people who experience homelessness, in particular, were found to be 87% more likely to stop attending school as a result of the challenges they face. For youth who experience family violence, abandonment, hunger, or lack of stable home environment, the basic challenges of finding transportation to school, remaining attentive in class, and completing homework are more challenging than for their more advantaged peers.                                                                                
A similar bipartisan amendment offered by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently passed the Senate. Full text of the Homeless and Foster Youth Achievement Act can be found here.