New PA Policies to Improve Early Education Access for Students Experiencing Homelessness
May 15, 2013 – New policy guidance issued last week by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning improves access to early learning opportunities for homeless children under the age of six.
This policy sets new standards for interagency collaboration at state and local levels to identify young children experiencing homelessness across service systems and ensure access to quality early learning programs, such as Head Start and Early Intervention.
“We are so pleased that OCDEL has stepped forward to provide important vision and leadership that will help ensure that young children experiencing homelessness get the supports and services to which they are entitled and desperately need,” said the Education Law Center’s Nancy A. Hubley, Managing Attorney for ELC’s Pittsburgh office.
Hubley works closely with the Bridges Collaborative — a network of early childhood and homeless advocates — to address the lack of education access for these young children.
According to OCDEL, more than 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s homeless children are under the age of six.
“This policy,” Hubley added, “will help ensure that staff of social service agencies, including housing programs and early childhood providers, are aware of which children are to be considered homeless and the legal rights that accompany them.”
OCDEL’s guidelines reiterate the federal requirements for supporting homeless students, as detailed across federal and state laws such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
The act, which became law in 1987, ensures that “each child of an individual who is homeless and each youth who is homeless have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youth.”
The Education Law Center in non-profit legal advocacy organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania’s children have access to a quality public education.
Education Law Center
Office: 215-238-6970 ext. 334