GAO report: Better oversight is needed in program for homeless children

27 Aug

Moi wrote in 3rd world America: Money changes everything: The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

This government, both parties, has failed to promote the kind of economic development AND policy which creates livable wage jobs. That is why Mc Donalds is popular for more than its dollar menu. They are hiring people.
This economy must focus on job creation and job retention and yes, hope. Both for those racing through college and those who have paid their education and training dues. “You deserve a break today at Mc Donalds,” the only employer who seems to be hiring.

Lauren Camera reported in the Education Week article, Better Oversight Needed of Federal Program for Homeless Students, GAO Says:

The U.S. Department of Education needs to provide better oversight of a federal program aimed at ensuring that homeless students have access to the public education system, a new Government Accountability Office report found.
The authors of the report, obtained by Education Week, listed several challenges to the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, which provides students with transportation to and from school as well as wraparound services such as health care, counseling, and food assistance. The biggest of those include limited staff and resources, the high cost of transportation, student stigma associated with homelessness, and responding to students made homeless by natural disasters.
And while the department has protocols for monitoring the program, the report notes, it doesn’t have a plan to ensure adequate oversight in every state. In fact, it the department assessed the program in just 28 states from fiscal year 2010 to 2013, and in only three states since then…..

Here are the highlights of the GAO report:

Kay Brown
(202) 512-7215
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
What GAO Found
To identify and serve homeless students under the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, officials in the 20 school districts where GAO conducted interviews reported conducting a range of activities to support homeless youth, but cited several challenges. With regard to GAO’s interviews, 13 of the 20 districts identified homeless students through housing surveys at enrollment, while all 20 relied on referrals from schools or service providers. However, officials in 8 of the 20 districts noted that the under-identification of homeless students was a problem. Districts GAO reviewed provided eligible students with transportation to and from school, educational services, and referrals to other service providers for support such as health care or food assistance. Among the challenges that officials in the 20 districts cited were limited staff and resources to provide services, the cost of transportation, student stigma associated with homelessness, and responding to students made homeless by natural disasters. Nationally, school districts surveyed most recently in school year 2010-11 by the Department of Education (Education) reported providing many services while facing similar challenges.
Education’s EHCY program manager and state program coordinators have collaborated with other government agencies and with private organizations by sharing information, participating in interagency councils on homelessness, and providing technical assistance to relevant staff. In addition, state EHCY program coordinators have provided training to school districts and helped connect local programs to ensure homeless students receive various services. However, federal and state officials frequently cited limited resources and differing federal definitions of homelessness as constraints to greater collaboration.
Education has protocols for monitoring state EHCY programs, but no plan to ensure adequate oversight of all states, though monitoring is a key management tool for assessing the quality of performance over time and resolving problems promptly. Prior to fiscal year 2010, it had been Education’s policy to monitor 50 states and 3 area programs at least once during a 3-year period, and it did so for fiscal years 2007 to 2009. Subsequently, the department adopted a risk-based approach in fiscal year 2010 and monitored 28 states over the next 3 years. In fiscal year 2013, Education again changed its approach to EHCY program monitoring and has monitored 3 state programs since then. Department officials cited other priorities and a lack of staff capacity as reasons for the decrease in oversight. As a result, Education lacks assurance that states are complying with program requirements. GAO found gaps in state monitoring of districts that could weaken program performance, reinforcing the importance of effective federal monitoring of states.
Declining Frequency of Federal Monitoring for EHCY Compliance since Fiscal Year 2007
Why GAO Did This Study
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act established a grant program to help the nation’s homeless students—more than one million in school year 2011-12—have access to public education. Under the Education for Homeless Children and Youth grant program, states and their school districts are required to identify homeless children and provide them with needed services and support. In fiscal year 2014, Education received about $65 million to administer this program. Education provided formula grants to states, which competitively awarded funds to school districts to help meet program requirements. GAO was asked to review program implementation and oversight.
GAO examined (1) how districts identify and serve homeless students and challenges they face (2) how Education and states collaborate with other service providers to address student needs and any barriers, and (3) the extent to which Education monitors program compliance. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, guidance, and reports, and analyzed Education’s state and school district survey data from school year 2010-11. GAO also interviewed federal officials, and state and local officials in 20 school districts—representing a mix of urban, suburban, and rural districts and grant status—in four states, selected for geographic diversity and other characteristics, such as experience with natural disasters.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that Education develop a plan to ensure adequate oversight of the EHCY program. Education concurred with our recommendation.
For more information, contact Kay Brown at (202) 512-7215 or
Status Legend:

• Review Pending
• Open
• Closed – implemented
• Closed – not implemented
Recommendation for Executive Action
Recommendation: To help ensure state compliance with the McKinney-Vento Act, Education should develop a monitoring plan to ensure adequate oversight of the EHCY program. This plan could, for example, determine a schedule of states to be monitored and incorporate procedures to assess whether states need to update their state plans.
Agency Affected: Department of Education
Status: Open
Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Education of Homeless Students:
Improved Program Oversight Needed
GAO-14-465: Published: Jul 31, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 2014.
• Highlights
View Report (PDF, 65 pages)

Click to access 665185.pdf

Additional Materials:
• Podcast:

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.


Hard times are disrupting families

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education

3rd world America: Money changes everything

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

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