Sonya Campion traveled to Olympia yesterday in support of the Homeless Student Stability and Achievement Gap Act (HB 1682) at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. This bill is a critical next step in our state’s efforts to end youth homelessness and will be an important tool for the newly created Office of Homeless Youth. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jake Fey, (D-27) has bi-partisan support.

The Homeless Student Stability and Achievement Gap Act would provide much needed funding for homeless student liaisons in school districts around the state. These liaisons can connect homeless youth and their families to resources in the community and ensure that students can stay in school during a family crisis. Additionally, the bill would create a new grant program to support innovative community partnerships, such as the successful model at McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma. This model creates partnerships between schools and housing providers to ensure that students and families get the support they need. These creative solutions deserve support from our state partners and a chance to be replicated in other communities across the state.

Watch Sonya’s testimony (starting at 27:52) here.

Sonya’s full testimony:

Thank you, Chairman Dunshee. My name is Sonya Campion and I am the President of the Campion Advocacy Fund and I am here today in support of House Bill 1682 – the Homeless Student Stability and Opportunity Gap Act.

First of all, I want to thank you for your extraordinary leadership in establishing the Office for Homeless Youth last year. Because of you, government systems are going to be streamlined and leveraged to provide kids with what they need so that they don’t fall through the cracks anymore. And the Office gives a base for the partnership between WA State and philanthropy which will leverage even more impact, thanks to you.

But we can’t get there if we can’t keep kids in school.

We want for all children in WA State what you want for your own children: stability and a home so that they can fully participate in learning and everything their school years have to offer. The Homeless Student Stability and Opportunity Gap act is a wise use of resources and savings for the state and it keeps kids in school, rather than in taxis commuting to school.

I support this bill because it provides critical resources to schools on the front lines of dealing with our state’s 32,000 homeless students and fosters the types of partnerships that are producing real results in working with homeless families.

Philanthropy is always looking to fund innovative projects that connect multiple systems working on an issue. We know that complex problems like homelessness can’t be solved in a silo and that many families and children need coordination and support from different sources. Providing the resources for schools to serve as an entryway to help will ensure that families get served and children stay in school during a family crisis. This model works successfully at McCarver Elementary in Tacoma and in the Highline School District. It deserves the chance to be replicated so that we can get the most out of our money serving homeless children and families.

Funders are always looking to leverage their investments to get the best outcomes. The investments included in this bill allow school districts to address the challenges facing homeless students in a coordinated way. This will lead to better connections to homeless services for families and better educational outcomes for homeless students. I urge you to support House Bill 1682.

Thank you.