SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) reintroduces legislation to identify California homeless students, so they can receive the resources they need to succeed. “We can’t provide homeless children assistance if we are not identifying them in the first place,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1937 is a continuation of previous legislation, AB 16, which sought to establish a comprehensive policy solution to assist local communities that are struggling to identify, and provide services to homeless families with children, but was vetoed last year. AB 1937 will create three geographically located County Offices of Education to develop Regional Technical Assistance Centers, to implement best practices used for identifying and connecting homeless students to services. Additionally, this legislation will create a standardized process for identifying homeless children across all of our school systems.
Assemblywoman Luz Rivas jointly led an audit looking into local and state policies used to identify and provide support to children experiencing homelessness. The California State Auditor found California’s K-12 education system has been ineffective at identifying and providing supportive services for homeless youth. The State has identified at least 200,000 homeless children, yet 400 school districts have failed to report a single homeless child. In response to the scathing report issued by the Auditor, AB 1937 incorporates key recommendations from the audit to ensure schools administer an annual housing questionnaire to identify homeless pupils so no child is left behind.
“The math does not add up,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “AB 1937 will identify homeless children who are hidden in plain sight at our public schools, so the state can deliver resources more effectively. The State Auditor’s report concluded that California is not adequately meeting the federal mandate to identify homeless students. It means nothing to be the state with the 5th largest economy, if we are failing our children by continuing to allow them to slip through the cracks. One homeless child, is one too many. We need to show these kids that we care, that they matter, and that we want them to succeed.”
“Student homelessness is not an issue that will simply go away if we pretend it isn’t happening,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “If students experiencing homelessness are not being identified, they are not getting access to the services they need to be successful. I am proud to have lead on the audit that produced many of these recommendations and look forward to partnering with Assemblymember Rivas to ensure California is adequately supporting students experiencing homelessness.”
According to UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, there are 204,085 enrolled homeless students. The top 10 counties with enrolled homeless student are, Los Angeles (53,000), San Bernardino (24,300), Orange (24,200), Riverside (16,000), San Diego (15,300), Santa Barbara (8,700), Monterey (7,000), Sacramento (6,200), Kern (3,500), and Ventura (3,500). This data proves homelessness is a statewide problem and no longer confined to just our larger cities. While UCLA has been able to identify the state and county numbers on homeless pupils, California school districts are struggling to.
Assemblywoman Rivas proudly represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, and San Fernando.
Judy Yee, Judy.Yee@asm.ca.gov, 916.319.2039