HARRISBURG, September 21, 2010 – Legislation introduced by State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana to form a task force that would study the best possible ways to educate homeless children was unanimously reported today out of the Senate Education Committee and now goes to the full Senate.
“I am thrilled that this bill is moving forward and I thank the Senate Education Committee for their consideration of this important issue,” Fontana said.
The number of children experiencing homelessness in our communities continues to grow, which is why it is important to get our arms around this issue now. These children should not be missing out on an opportunity to go to school, learn, make a future for themselves, and improve their lives.”
Fontana (D-Allegheny) said the bill establishes a 19-member task force to include the secretaries of the Department of Education, Public Health and Welfare, the chair of the PA Housing Finance Agency, and officials from school districts, social service agencies and organizations that help homeless families. The task force would examine educational needs and status of homeless children to develop a statewide proposal that would establish a strong statewide educational foundation for homeless children.
Senate Bill 1414 would charge the task force with examining and assessing the landscape of the homeless-child population, including demographics and impediments to educational success. It would also hash out existing jurisdictional issues. The task force would be required to submit its report to the governor and General Assembly within a year of its initial meeting.
The legislation is expected to be referred to Senate Appropriations before being considered by the full Senate on final passage. The Brookline lawmaker is hopeful that the legislation will continue to raise awareness about homelessness and its impact on children.
“We have an obligation and responsibility to see to it that homeless children have access to all available educational resources,” Fontana said. “These kids and their families have already been through so much. We cannot allow their education to be another thing that is lost to them.”