Downey, Houghtaling Bill to Facilitate Education for Students Living in Homeless Shelters Goes to Gov's Desk

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Legislation introduced by Monmouth County Assembly Members Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling to require the state to pay the educational costs for certain students who reside in a homeless shelter outside of their district of residence unanimously cleared the state Senate on Monday, giving it final Legislative approval.

"Children and youth who experience homelessness face many barriers to education," said Downey (D-Monmouth County). "School can be a source of stability for a young person and family who have lost their housing."

"The legislation will help ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to a public education," said Houghtaling (D- Monmouth County). "Education is important to every child, and even more critical to a child who has endured homelessness and other unfortunate experiences in life."

The state is currently required to pay the educational costs of any student who resides for more than one year in a domestic violence shelter or transitional living facility located outside the student's district of residents.

This bill provides that, in addition, the state will pay the educational costs of a student who resides for more than one year in a homeless shelter located outside the student's district of residence.

A series of administrative law decisions have ruled that if a homeless family continues to reside in a particular school district for more than one year, then the family is considered to be domiciled in that district, and the district becomes responsible for the costs of the child's education. This bill will avoid concentrating the educational costs of students who live in homeless shelters for an extended period of time on the communities in which shelters are located.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee on December 12, 2016 and the full Assembly on February 15, 69-0-1. The bill now heads to the Governor for further consideration. 

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