Education Legislation For Foster Youth


Homeless Assistance Act
42 U.S.C. § 11431-11435
Title VII, Subtitle B NCLB-Title X, Part C

Topic: Education Rights for Homeless Children and Youth

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (effective 1987 & Reauthorized 2002): Federal legislation addressing the education needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Key Themes:
  • School Access
  • School Stability
  • Support for Educational Success
  • Child-Centered Decision Making
Key Provisions
  • Immediate enrollment in school without necessary records.
  • Right to remain in school of origin for duration of school year when move, if in the child’s best interest.
  • Transportation to/from school of origin
  • Districts must designate a staff person as the Homeless Education Liaison.
  • Allows for equal access to school programs.

California EC §
48850, 48852.5
Topic: Education Rights for Homeless Children and Youth

SB 177 (effective 2014) Homeless Youth Education Success Act:

  • Requires the immediate enrollment of homeless children and youth.
  • Deems homeless students to meet residency requirements for interscholastic sports, immediately upon enrollment.
  • Requires the California Department of Education and the Department of Social Services to:
    1. Organize an inter-agency work group.
    2. Develop policies and practices to support homeless children and youth.
    3. Ensure that child abuse and neglect report requirements do not create barriers.
  • Requires local educational agency (LEA) homeless liaisons to ensure public notice of the educational rights of homeless children and youth are distributed in schools.

California EC §
48859 & 48852.7
Topic: Education Rights for Homeless Children and Youth

SB 445 (effective 2016) Pupil Instruction and Services:

  • Right to continue in the school and district of origin through the duration of homelessness, including matriculation in the district-of-origin feeder patterns. If the school designated for matriculation is in another district, the student may attend the designated school.
  • Right to remain in their high school through graduation if they become permanently housed in grades 9-12.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Topic: Education Rights for Homeless Children and Youth

ESSA (effective 2016): Reauthorization of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act-amending the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act

Key Amendments (not an exhaustive list):
  • School Stability
    • LEAs must make a best interest determination, presuming that staying in the school of origin is in the child’s best interest.
    • Consider student-centered factors related to the child’s best interest, including factors related to the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health, and safety of the child giving priority to parent/Homeless Unaccompanied Youth (HUY) wishes.
  • School of Origin & Immediate Enrollment
    • School of origin Includes: 1) designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools & 2) preschool
    • Immediate Enrollment is required even if the child has missed application or enrollment deadlines.
    • Schools should have policies to remove barriers for enrollment due to fees, fines, and absences.
  • Credit Accrual, Full Participation, and College Readiness
    • Remove barriers preventing youth from receiving appropriate credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed.
    • Opportunities to meet the same State academic achievement standards as other children.
    • Assistance from school counselors to advise, prepare, and improve readiness for college.
    • Inform Homeless Unaccompanied Youth (HUY) of their status as independent students for college financial aid.
  • Preschool
    • Ensure homeless children have access to district public preschool programs, administered by the districts and access to early intervention programs and services for students with disabilities.
  • Transportation
    • Transportation to/from school of origin provided until the end of the school year if the child becomes permanently housed any time during the school year.
  • Privacy
    • Schools must treat information about a homeless child’s or youth living situation as a student education record, subject to protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Access to HUD Homeless Assistance
    • Liaisons must refer homeless families and students to housing services and local liaisons are authorized to affirm whether children meet the HUD definition of homelessness to qualify them for HUD homeless assistance programs.

Penal Code §
Topic: Reporting Abuse

AB 652 (effective 2014): Child abuse reporting and HUY

  • Clarifies the fact that a child/youth that is homeless or classified as an unaccompanied minor is not in and of itself, a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect as defined by McKinney-Vento.

California EC §
Topic: Graduation Requirements

AB 1806 (effective 2015) Legislation to provide graduation requirement exemption for homeless children & youth:

  • Exempts homeless students from completing Local Educational Agency (LEA) graduation requirements in excess of the state graduation requirements if the student transfers schools (across districts or within district) after the second year of high school (grade 11 or 12), and if the pupil would not reasonably be able to complete the LEA requirements by the end of the fourth year of high school. Includes all provisions that were provided to foster students.

AB 1166 (effective 2016) Amends EC §51225.1 Extends and clarifies graduation requirement exemption:

  • If the district fails to provide timely notification of exemption from local graduation requirements, the student is declared eligible for the exemption.
  • A student who qualifies for the exemption will continue to qualify even if the student is no longer in foster care or homeless.

SB 532 (effective 2023) Amends EC §51225.1 Extends and clarifies graduation requirement exemption:

  • Adds that students are allowed to remain in school for a fifth year to meet STATE requirements.
  • For students determined to be reasonably able to complete local requirements when first evaluated, requires re-evaluation at the beginning of the next academic year to determine if still on track to graduate and if not, graduation exemption waiver can be considered.
  • For students with significant gaps in school attendance, age may be used as a factor to determine if the student is in the third or fourth year of high school to qualify for the graduation exemption waiver.
  • LEAs must consult with the person holding educational rights for a student and the student regarding graduation options and how exemption may impact student’s post-secondary options or vocational plans.
  • Requires re-evaluation of students within 30 days of request by student or person holding educational rights for student.
  • Applies to students enrolled in Adult Education Programs.
  • Sole discretion of person holding education rights for student or student if 18 whether or not to accept the graduation requirement exemption.
  • LEAs shall report annually the number of students who graduated with an exemption.

California EC §
Topic: Partial Credits

AB 1806 (effective 2015) Legislation to provide partial credits for homeless children and youth:

  • Requires school districts to issue partial credits for coursework satisfactorily completed by a homeless youth in a prior school if the entire coursework was not completed.
  • Prohibits a school from requiring a homeless youth to retake a complete course if a portion of the course was already completed.

SB 532 (effective 2023) Amends EC §51225.2 Partial credits clarification:

  • Clarifies that the transferring LEA shall issue the full and partial credits on an official transcript for the student.
  • Credits and grades for each school and LEA are listed separately on the transcript.
  • A complete record of the student’s seat time, including period attendance and days of enrollment.
  • New LEA must transfer the credits and grades onto an official transcript in the same manner.

California EC §
48900, 48900.5, 48918.1, 48915.5
Topic: Discipline

AB 1729 (effective 2013) Amends EC §48900 & 48900.5 Alternatives to suspension or expulsion:

  • Authorizes a superintendent of the school district or principal to use alternatives to suspension or expulsion that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the root causes of the pupil’s specific misbehavior.
  • Requires the IEP team, for an individual with exceptional needs, to hold a meeting within 3 days to discuss the behavioral concerns and determine if a functional behavioral assessment and/or behavioral intervention plan are needed to address the behavior.

AB 420 (effective 2014) Amends EC §48900 Eliminating “disruption” and “willful defiance” as acts subject to discipline:

  • Eliminates the authority to suspend a student out of school or in-school in Kindergarten through third grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance”.
  • Eliminates the authority to expel a student in Kindergarten-12th grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance”.

AB 1806 (effective 2015) Amends EC §48918.1 & 48915.5 Legislation regarding discipline notifications:

  • Requires each LEA to notify the LEA’s liaison for homeless children and youth of a manifestation determination meeting, a suspension hearing, or an expulsion.

California EC §
76004, 66025.9, 67003.5, 69514.5, 69561, 76300, 66019.3, 76010, 90001.5, 92660
Topics: College Pathways, Priority Enrollment & Priority Housing

AB 288 (effective 2015) EC § 76004 College Pathways:

  • Authorizes community college and school districts to enter into a College & Career Access Pathways Partnership with the goal of developing seamless pathways from high school to community college for career technical education or preparation for transfer, improving high school graduation rates, or helping pupils achieve college and career readiness.

AB 801 (effective 2016) EC § 66025.9, 67003.5, 69514.5, 69561, 76300 Priority Enrollment:

  • Until January 2020, requires California State Universities and California Community Colleges and requests University of California that administers a priority enrollment system, to grant priority for registration for enrollment to homeless youth.
  • Designate a Homeless and Foster Student Liaison, apportion funds for projects to increase accessibility of postsecondary educational opportunities and provide fee waivers for homeless youth.

AB 1288 (effective 2016) EC § 66019.3, 76010, 90001.5, 92660 Priority Housing:

  • Requests California Community Colleges and requires California State University and University of California campuses to give priority for housing (including year-around) to homeless students and have plans to make on-campus housing available during breaks.

AB 806 (effective 2019) amends EC § 66025.9, 67003.5, 69514.5, 69561, 76300 Priority Enrollment:

  • Removes the end date and extends the provision for priority enrollment indefinitely.
  • Adds former homeless youth (a student under 25 years of age, who has been verified at any time during the 24 months immediately preceding the receipt of the youth’s application for admission by a postsecondary educational institution) to the list of students:
    • Granted, or requested to be granted, priority enrollment.
    • Whom a Homeless and Foster Student Liaison (within the financial aid office or another appropriate office or department) works with.
    • Served by the Community College Student Financial Aid Outreach Program and the Student Opportunity and Access Program.
    • Eligible for a fee waiver for the enrollment fee of $46 per unit per semester.

California EC §
48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1 & 51225.2

AB 379 (effective 2016) Complaint of Noncompliance:

  • Allows a student in foster care or one who is homeless to enforce their educational rights through the State’s Uniform Complaint Procedure.
  • Requires these rights to be included in the Annual Notification.

California EC §
49073, 49076
Topic: Pupil Records

AB 1068 (effective 2014) Pupil Records:

  • Gives unaccompanied youth age 14 and over the right to access and consent to disclose their school records.
  • Extends these rights to caregivers who enroll students in school using California’s caregiver authorization affidavit.
  • Prevents schools from releasing directory information (name, address, phone number, email, and photographs) of students experiencing homelessness unless a parent expressly consents.

Health & Safety Code §
Topic: Free Birth Records

AB 1733 (effective 2015) Free Birth Records:

  • Each local registrar or county recorder shall, without a fee, issue a certified record of live birth to any person who can verify his or her status as a homeless person or a homeless child or youth. A homeless service provider (including a local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth) who has knowledge of a person’s housing status shall verify a person’s status for the purposes of this subdivision. AB2490 amended this to require, without a fee, issuance of up to three copies of a certified record of live birth for a homeless child or youth.

Vehicle Code §
Topic: Free California ID

AB 2490 (effective 2018) Free California ID:

  • On and after January 1, 2016, a fee shall not be charged for an original or replacement identification card issued to any person who can verify his or her status as a homeless person or homeless child or youth. A homeless service provider (including a local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth) that has knowledge of a person’s housing status shall verify a person’s status for the purposes of this subdivision.

Health & Safety Code §
Topic: Public Health Vaccinations

SB 277 (effective 2016) Vaccination Exemptions:

  • Exemptions from immunizations for medical reasons only. Eliminates exemptions based upon personal beliefs.
  • NOTE: Foster & Homeless Youth are still guaranteed the right to enroll without proof of immunization. Best practices is to enroll immediately and then assist families in getting immunization so there is no disruption in their schooling because of immunizations.

California EC §
8482.6, 8483, 8483.1, 8483.95
Topic: After School Programs

AB 1567 (effective 2017) Priority in After School Programs:

  • Gives first priority enrollment in after-school and before-school programs to pupils who are identified by the program as homeless youth or in foster care.
  • Requires the program to inform the parent or caregiver of the right of homeless children and foster children to receive priority enrollment and how to request priority enrollment.
  • Prohibits charging a fee to a family of a pupil who is identified as homeless or in foster care.

Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP)
Topic: LCAP

AB 97/SB 91 (effective 2016) Addressing Homeless Student Needs in LCAP:

  • In California, school districts are expected to show how the needs of homeless students are being addressed in districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans. A LCAP is a three-year plan that shows how districts plan to spend state funds to improve student achievement, with particular attention to high-needs students—foster and homeless youth, low-income students, and English learners. The plans are updated annually with input from the community.

California EC §
48851, 48852.5, 48852.6, 48857, 48859, 48851.5
Topic: Homeless Identification and Training

AB 27 (effective 2021) amends EC § §48851, 48852.5, 48852.6, 48857, 48859 Homeless ID-Housing Questionnaire:

  • Local Educational Agency (LEA) to ensure that each school identifies homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, as defined, enrolled at school.
  • Also requires LEAs receiving designated federal funds to administer a housing questionnaire annually, as specified, for purposes of identifying students.

SB 400 (effective 2021) amends EC § §48851.5, 48852.5 Homeless ID & Training for School Personnel:

  • Requires a LEA liaison for homeless children and youths to ensure the identification by school personnel of those children and youths through outreach and coordination activities with other organizations and the referral of services to homeless families, children, and youth.
  • Requires LEAs to provide federally required training to school personnel providing services to youth experiencing homelessness at least annually.

California EC §
48412, 51421, & 51421.5
Topic: High School Proficiency Exam Fees

SB 252 (effective 2016) amends EC § §48412, 51421 & 51421.5 Waiving Proficiency Exam Fees:

  • Waives high school proficiency exam fees (GED, CHSPE), which can cost up to $200. Removes this financial barrier for homeless students.

WIC § 18904.25
Topic: CalFresh Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

AB 309 (effective 2014) CalFresh Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

  • Clarifies there is no minimum age requirement for unaccompanied homeless youth to apply.
  • Requires County Welfare Departments (who process CalFresh applications) to promote awareness of CalFresh expedited services to the homeless population by ensuring LEA liaisons and homeless shelter operators receive training about CalFresh services.
  • Requires County Welfare Departments (who process CalFresh applications) to individually evaluate and screen unaccompanied youth’s CalFresh application to determine if the youth is a household of one or must apply with a household with whom the youth is regularly purchasing and preparing foods.
  • Requires County Welfare Departments (who process CalFresh applications) to provide a written explanation if an application is denied.

California EC § 8263
Topic: Child Care

AB 982 (effective 2015) Priority for Subsidized Child Care:

  • Prioritizes homeless families for enrollment in subsidized child care.
  • Indicates LEA Homeless Liaisons can verify that a family is homeless for purposes of eligibility.

Annual SCR Senate Concurrent Resolution

November is California Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month!!

Recognizes the need for individuals, schools, communities, businesses, local government, and the state to take action on behalf of runaway and homeless youth in California.

Disclaimer: Recommendation to consult with legal counsel to determine how this document may apply to your specific facts and circumstances.