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New Career and Technical Education Act Supports Youth Experiencing Homelessness

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Topics: Education Equity, Education Policy

“We are especially thrilled at KnowledgeWorks to see so many of these improvements align with the growing shift to create more personalized and competency-based learning environments,” my colleague Lillian Pace wrote in a recent article about the renewal of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Many of the improvements included were designed to ensure that concerted collaboration and support leads to higher levels of success in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs for specific populations of students, including students experiencing homelessness.

According to Advance CTE, the high school graduation rate for students focused on CTE nears 90%– 15 percentage points higher than the national average. Meanwhile, youth experiencing homelessness are 87 percent more likely to drop out of school than their stably housed peers, due to barriers like hunger, poor health, trauma and constant mobility. CTE can be an important tool for youth experiencing homelessness to gain work experience and skills in a trade that can provide a living wage while also helping boost the graduation rate of these youth—but not without specific supports designed to meet their needs.

In a guest post for KnowledgeWorks, Patricia Julianelle of SchoolHouse Connection outlined the additional, personalized supports that youth experiencing homelessness need to ensure success in their education. With upwards of 1.3 million students experiencing homelessness in the 2015-16 school year, it is encouraging to see that these youth are included in the Perkins Act as a standalone group that merits targeted supports.

The Perkins Act now requires that youth experiencing homelessness be included as one of nine special populations. States and districts are required to provide these populations with specific supports and to ensure they not only have access to CTE programs, but are also able to find success with them.

Provisions related to homelessness and special populations in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act include:

  • State-level CTE plans must include consultation with the McKinney-Vento State Coordinator. This coordinator is in charge of implementing appropriate education supports for homeless children and youth as required by the McKinney-Vento Act. These plans must describe how states will ensure equal access and improved outcomes for special populations participating in CTE programs.
  • Local CTE plans must include a comprehensive needs assessment and set of strategies for special population youth to overcome barriers to access and success in CTE. The needs assessments must involve representatives of agencies serving homeless children and youth.
  • Local funds may be used to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expense for special populations, including youth in dual / concurrent enrollment programs or early college high school programs.
  • Innovation and Modernization grants may be used to support evidence-based strategies for special population youth and online portals for special populations, which may include opportunities for mentoring, gaining financial literacy skills and identifying career opportunities and interests and a platform to establish online savings accounts
  • States are required to make meaningful progress toward improving CTE outcomes for special populations. Annual state reports must include the actual levels of performance for special populations, disaggregated data on designated special populations and data showing any disparities or gaps in performance of special populations.