Action Alert

For homeless youth, moving through the world without a state identification card can make an already impossible situation worse. Without state ID, they cannot: 

  • Apply for a job
  • Enroll in education programs
  • Obtain a library card
  • Pick up a package from the post office
  • Open any financial accounts
  • Enter certain government buildings
  • Interact with law enforcement
  • Access social services

But homeless youth face unique barriers that prevent them from easily obtaining state ID. 

Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families, would eliminate the $25 fee required for Massachusetts IDs for applicants experiencing homelessness and reduce verification barriers. This bill is an important step to help homeless youth access potentially life-saving resources. 

But the legislative session ends at MIDNIGHT tonight.

This bill passed the Senate unanimously WEEKS AGO. It’s time for the House to do the same. Please join us in urging House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez to strongly support its passage in the House before the deadline TONIGHT!

Having a state ID is critical to ensure homeless youth are able to access the resources and opportunities they need, and today is the final day of formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle. They need your call today more than ever. 

Call Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez to pass Senate Bill 2568 TODAY!

House Speaker Robert DeLeo

617-722-2500

House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez

617-722-2990

Sample Call Script: 

Speaker DeLeo/Chairman Sánchez, 

I am calling to urge you to support the passage of Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families. This bill is an important step in ensuring homeless youth can more easily obtain Massachusetts state ID, which they need to access vital resources and opportunities. 

Without state ID, homeless youth cannot apply for a job, enroll in education programs, get a library card, or accomplish many other important everyday tasks. 

This bill will break down barriers that homeless youth face daily and make an important difference in their lives. I ask that you please support the passage of Senate Bill 2568 to ensure we continue to care for vulnerable youth in our state. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and advocacy on behalf of the homeless youth of Massachusetts.

 

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Action Alert

For homeless youth, obtaining a state identification card is necessary to accomplish everyday tasks and access potentially life-saving resources. They must have ID to:

  • Apply for a job
  • Enroll in education programs
  • Obtain a library card
  • Pick up a package from the post office
  • Open any financial accounts
  • Enter certain government buildings
  • Interact with law enforcement
  • Access social services

But homeless youth face unique barriers that prevent them from easily obtaining state ID.

Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families, would eliminate the $25 fee required for Massachusetts IDs for applicants experiencing homelessness and reduce verification barriers. These are common-sense solutions to ensure homeless youth are not left behind.

CALL TODAY to help homeless youth access the resources they need.

This bill has already passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY. Now we need your help to ask House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez to strongly support its passage in the House. 

The Legislature’s formal session is scheduled to end on July 31st, which means we must act now. Having a state ID will allow homeless youth to access the resources and opportunities they need, and your call today could be the difference.

Please join us and take action today to pass Senate Bill 2568. Click here for a one-minute online action with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless or call Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez and let them know they must support this critical bill:

House Speaker Robert DeLeo

617-722-2500

House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez

617-722-2990

Sample Call Script:

Speaker DeLeo/Chairman Sánchez,

I am calling to urge you to support the passage of Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families. This bill is an important step in ensuring homeless youth can more easily obtain Massachusetts state ID, which they need to access to critical resources and opportunities.

Without state ID, homeless youth cannot apply for a job, enroll in education programs, get a library card, or accomplish many other important everyday tasks.

This bill will break down barriers that homeless youth face daily and make an important difference in their lives. I ask that you please support the passage of Senate Bill 2568 to ensure we continue to care for vulnerable youth in our state.

Thank you for your ongoing support and advocacy on behalf of the homeless youth of Massachusetts.

 

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Action Alert

If passing the FY’19 State Budget is a marathon, we’re in the final stretch! The Senate Debates have ended and the Conference Committee met for the first time last Thursday.

This Committee is comprised of three Senators and three Representatives with one job: to reconcile differences between the House and Senate budgets.

Now it’s our job to make sure they don’t forget about the many important items you’ve helped us fight for over the past two months that need funding. The budget is more than just a list of line items. It’s a chance for all of us to stand up and tell our legislators what we care about and why.

The following are our priorities:

  • Civil Legal Aid (Line Item #0321-1600)
    • $21 million to provide civil legal aid to low-income individuals and families.
  • Housing Court (Line Item #0336-0003)
    • $2.6 million to fully fund the Housing Court expansion, a key component of expanding access to justice in the state.
  • Lunch Shaming and Student Hunger (Line Item #7053-1909)
    • Requiring schools to publish their meal charge policies to better track and combat lunch shaming.
  • Support for Homeless Youth (Line Item #4000-0007)
    • $3.3 million to fund housing and support services for homeless youth.
  • Language Access in Schools (Outside Section 126)
    • Establish and task force regarding school interpreters to break down language barriers in education settings.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to urge the members of the Conference Committee to include the critical funding and policy language described below in the final budget they send to the Governor.

Don’t wait – contact them now!

You can read more about these important line items below. 

Civil Legal Aid

Line Item #0321-1600

The Senate has recommended a $21 million appropriation, a $3 million increase from last year and a $210,000 increase from the House appropriation, for Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the largest funding source for civil legal aid programs. These programs provide critical free legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney.

Due to a lack of funding, legal aid organizations are ALREADY forced to turn away 64% of people in need of help.

We need the Conference Committee to adopt the Senate’s recommendation of $21 million in funding for MLAC, so that more low-income residents of Massachusetts can gain access to legal advice and representation. Please tell your legislators to advocate for this funding level in the final Conference Committee budget!

Housing Court

Line Item #0336-0003

The Housing Court has already proven itself to be an indispensable resource for those experiencing a housing crisis – for those who have access. Now, the Senate has recommended $2.6 million, an increase of $1.6 million from last year and a $100,000 increase from the House appropriation, for the full expansion of the Housing Court needed to protect the nearly one-third of all Massachusetts residents who currently have no access.

Neighborhoods under attack from gentrification and families faced with eviction must have access to a Housing Court.

If we truly believe in access to justice, funding the necessary expansion of the Housing Court must be a priority. Please ask your state senator and representative to advocate for $2.6 million in funding for Housing Court in the Conference Committee’s final budget.

Lunch Shaming and Student Hunger

Line Item #7053-1909

Lunch shaming is the practice of humiliating and punishing children who are unable to afford lunch. In order to fight to end lunch shaming, we need the Conference Committee to adopt the language recommended by the Senate that requires school districts to publish and disseminate their meal charge policies. This would create more transparency about different schools’ meal policies for parents, and enable advocates like us to track them.

This will help us end lunch shaming in Massachusetts altogether.

If protecting low-income students from being subjected to unjust humiliation is important to you, please tell your legislators to urge the Conference Committee to include this language in line item #7053-1909 in the final budget.

Support for Homeless Youth

Line Item #4000-0007

Last year, funding for services for homeless youth was insufficient to meet the demand and almost forced a shelter critical to many youth in Cambridge to close its doors. This year, the Senate has called for $3.3 million in funding, a $2,625,000 increase from last year and a $2.3 million increase from the House appropriation!

This important increase will fund vital services that will allow homeless youth to stay safe and healthy so that they can focus on their education.

Please ask your legislators to urge the Conference Committee to adopt the Senate’s funding amount of $3.3 million in the final budget.

Language Access in Schools

Outside Section 126

Limited English proficient (LEP) parents have a right to accurately and effectively receive information about their child’s education, but without trained interpreters, they can face staggering language barriers. Outside Section 126 of the Senate budget would establish a task force to collect information and make recommendations on the training and certification of language interpreters in schools to better serve the needs of each child and family.

As many as 113 school districts are currently not meeting the needs of LEP students and families in Massachusetts.

Please ask your legislators to urge the Conference Committee to include Outside Section 126 in the final budget.

 

Click here to contact your legislators and ask them to urge the members of the Conference Committee (pictured below) to include these funding levels and policy initiatives in the final budget.

Chairwoman Karen E. Spilka

Senator Joan B. Lovely

Senator Viriato M. deMacedo

Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez

 

 

 

 

 

 

Representative Stephen Kulik

Representative Todd M. Smola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your ongoing support and advocacy.

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Action Alert

The Senate’s FY’19 budget recommendations, while including some big wins for the housing court and homeless youth, do not include funding for several critical areas.

Senators have submitted their amendments, and now the debates are on!

This is your chance to join us and stand up for civil legal aid, low-income kids in schools, and an exciting new amendment focusing on parents and students facing language barriers in the classroom! One quick call to your senator could make the difference.

Civil Legal Aid

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporations (MLAC) has requested an additional $5 million in state support this year (for a total of $23 million).

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means’ budget includes $19 million in funding for MLAC, which is $1 million less than the House’s budget and still short of MLAC’s request of $5 million in additional funding

MLAC is the largest provider of civil legal aid services in the state and without full funding, civil legal aid programs will be forced to turn away thousands of people in need.

Senator Creem and Senator Brownsberger have filed Amendment #992 that would provide the full $23 million in funding MLAC has requested and help provide aid to those with critical unmet legal needs across the state.

Action You Can Take:

Click here to email your senator TODAY and ask them to support Amendment #992.

Lunch Shaming and Student Hunger

Lunch shaming is the practice of humiliating and punishing children who are unable to afford lunch, and is unfortunately the policy of many schools in Massachusetts. With a recent bill aiming to ban lunch shaming that we supported unlikely to pass this session, Senator Creem has filed Amendment #167.

This amendment would require cities and towns to publish their meal charge policies so that parents are fully informed about the consequences of accruing school meal debt. It would also enable advocates like us to track different schools’ meal policies to better combat lunch shaming.

This would be an important step in the fight to protect children from harmful lunch shaming policies.

The publication of meal policies will allow us, along with our community partners, to hold school districts accountable and continue this important discussion at the local and statewide levels.

Action You Can Take:

Click here to find your senator’s contact information and ask them to support Amendment #167.

Language Access in Schools

Despite federal laws and regulations outlining the responsibilities schools have in communicating with limited English proficient (LEP) parents in a language they understand, too many families continue to face staggering language access barriers, in up to as many as 113 school districts in the state.

In response to this widespread problem, Senator Welch has introduced Amendment #284. This amendment would enable the creation of a Task Force to develop recommendations regarding the training, assessment, and certification of interpreters in educational settings to improve language access for LEP parents.

Too often, bilingual school staff – including secretaries, school counselors, janitors, and cafeteria workers – are being asked to stand in and interpret, despite not being appropriately trained as an interpreter.

The establishment of this Task Force will set standards for interpreters and will allow schools to better serve the needs of each unique child and family, regardless of the language they speak.

Action You Can Take:

Click here to find your senator’s contact information and ask them to support Amendment #284.

Thank you for standing with us throughout this budget process as we fight for necessary funding and policy changes in these critical areas. Please join us again and tell the Senate why these issues are important to you. When we stand up and we speak out, we win!

 

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Action Alert

Last month, the House Committee on Ways and Means released its 2019 budget proposal and you stood with us to defend Massachusetts’ most vulnerable populations.

We need your help once again.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, and there is plenty of good news to go around! The Senate Committee has recommended $3,300,000 for services and support for unaccompanied homeless youth, a massive increase from last year’s $675,000! Additionally, the Senate has recommended the full $2.6 million in funding necessary for the expansion of the Housing Court!

Your ongoing support has shown our legislators that they need to prioritize these issues. Let’s remind them once more about the importance of access to justice! We’re asking you to join us again and raise your voice in support of civil legal aid.

Civil legal aid programs across the state are forced to turn away nearly 45,000 people each year due to lack of funding.

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the largest provider of legal aid services in the state, has requested an additional $5 million in state support this year to meet the unmet need of legal services for low-income folks.

The Senate Ways and Means’ budget includes $19 million in funding for MLAC, which is $1 million less than the House’s budget and still short of MLAC’s request of $5 million in additional funding.

Without full funding, civil legal aid programs will be forced to turn away thousands more people in need of representation.

Senator Creem and Senator Brownsberger will be filing an amendment to increase funding by $4 million, for a total of $23 million. This amendment is an important step in providing access to justice for some of the most at-risk residents in Massachusetts.

Action You Can Take:

Contact your state senator TODAY to ask them to co-sponsor Senators Creem and Brownsberger’s amendment for civil legal aid.

Don’t wait! The deadline to file amendments is Monday, May 14th at NOON!

Click here to email your senator today.

As the second budget battle of the season commences, I want to thank you once again for your continued commitment to our work. With your help, we can guarantee greater civil legal support for low-income families and individuals in 2019.

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Action Alert

It’s that time of year again.

Budget season.

Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. And we have some work to do if we want to ensure the unaccompanied homeless youth of Massachusetts have the support they need and the Housing Court and civil legal aid have enough funding to provide greater access to justice across the state.

Each year, we fight to make sure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations are cared for, and your advocacy is the reason we’ve been successful in the past. Now, we need your help once more as we enter the first battle of the budget season.

With your help, we will win!

Homeless Youth

The HWM budget recommendations include $1 million for housing and services for unaccompanied homeless youth. While this would be an increase over the FY’18 appropriation, it would be less than the spending level last year AND less than the FY’19 Governor’s recommendation of $2 million.

These services for homeless youth can prove life-saving.

Representative O’Day will be filing TWO youth homelessness amendments:

  • To increase funding for youth housing and services to $4 million;
  • To include specific language in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services line item that will provide $150,000 for the important work of the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

Action You Can Take:

Call your State Representative TODAY and ask them to sign on to both amendments by contacting Cinda Danh in Rep. O’Day’s office: cinda.danh@mahouse.gov.

Deadline: By 3:00 p.m., Friday (tomorrow).

Click here to find your Representative’s contact information.

Housing Court

The Housing Court expansion is a critical component of expanding access to justice for people across the state facing eviction, gentrification, and other housing crises.

But the HWM has only provided partial funding for the expansion of the Housing Court in the amount of $1.5 million. The Governor proposed $2.6 million for the Housing Court, which would enable full funding of the expansion.

The expansion of the Housing Court is an important step forward in achieving access to justice for Massachusetts residents.

Representative Walsh will be filing an amendment to provide the full funding, $2.6 million, for the Housing Court expansion.

Action You Can Take:

Call your State Representative TODAY and ask them to sign on to Representative Walsh’s Housing Court amendment.

Deadline: By NOON, Friday (tomorrow).

Click here to find your Representative’s contact information.

Civil Legal Aid

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) is the largest funding source for civil legal aid in the state, and thousands of low-income residents unable to afford an attorney rely on their services.

The HWM’s budget includes $20 million in funding for MLAC, which is $2 million over the FY’18 appropriation, but still short of MLAC’s request of $5 million in additional funding.

As the federal access to justice office shutters its doors, funding civil legal aid is more important than ever.

Representative Cronin and Representative Balser have filed an amendment seeking an additional $2 million in funding.

Action You Can Take:

Call your State Representative TODAY to ask them to co-sponsor and support Amendment #243.

Deadline: By the end of the day, Friday (tomorrow).

Don’t wait! Click here to find your Representative’s contact information.

 

Thank you for joining us in this important push to protect these necessary services. Your advocacy is vital this time of year, and we’re so grateful for your continued commitment to our work.

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Action Alert

BREAKING: On Friday, March 23rd, the Conference Committee working on the Omnibus Criminal Justice Reform bill reported out the final compromise language and the Senate and House are expected to pass the final bill today! The school discipline reform that we advocated for was included in Sections 27, 159, and 160. We believe these provisions will advance our goal to decrease the number of kids being arrested and removed from school for minor misbehavior.

We are so grateful for your advocacy!

But we’re not done yet! Now, more than ever, is the time to raise our voices and be heard.

Once the legislature passes the bill, the next step is that the bill will advance to the Governor’s desk and he will have 10 days to sign or veto it. It will only become law if the Governor signs it! Governor Baker has not yet stated his position on the compromise bill. Please join us by contacting Governor Baker and urging him to sign S.2371, the omnibus criminal justice reform legislation, which includes sections 27, 159, and 160 related to student arrests and School Resource Officers (SROs).

As a reminder, these provisions would:

  1. Decriminalize non-violent misconduct in schools; and
  2. require that MOUs between schools and police departments include certain provisions clarifying that SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary actions for non-violent school infractions; and
  3. outline data collection methods and responsibilities.

If this legislation becomes law, these provisions will keep students from undergoing the trauma of arrest for simply acting out, and ensure that school resource officers (SROs) are trained in child development, de-escalation techniques, and implicit bias. For more information about the bills the final language originated from, check out this fact sheet on our website.

Will you help us ensure these important reforms become Massachusetts law?

Research shows that arrests of students for non-violent behavior disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities, and the impact can be devastating. A student who is arrested in school is three times more likely to drop out, and is subsequently more likely to go to prison, earn less income, and rely more on public benefits.

Please call Governor Baker, and urge him to sign S.2371 into law!

Click here to find Governor Baker’s contact information.

No child deserves to feel unsafe when they walk into their school. We need to urge Governor Baker to pass these common sense reforms that will prevent unnecessary arrests and be an important step in keeping kids in class and out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Thank you for your continued support.

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Action Alert

For months now, you’ve worked alongside us to pass meaningful legislation that will be a serious blow to the school-to-prison pipeline.

And now we’re almost there. 

Right now, a Conference Committee of six legislators is meeting to reconcile two versions of the omnibus criminal justice reform bill. The version that passed the Senate (S.2200) included the necessary provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct.

These provisions include:

  1. decriminalizing non-violent misconduct in schools by eliminating the crime of disturbing school assembly; and
  2. requiring that MOUs between schools and police departments include certain provisions clarifying that SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary actions for non-violent school infractions; and
  3. outlining data collection methods and responsibilities.

 

We need these important provisions to be included in the final bill.

Research shows that arrests of students for non-violent behavior disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities, and the impact can be devastating. A student who is arrested in school is three times more likely to drop out and is subsequently more likely to go to prison, earn less income, and rely more on public benefits. And as of right now, there is no check on this practice or accountability. 

Representative Aaron Vega is sending  a joint letter with Senator Patricia Jehlen to the Conference Committee in support of at-risk students. 

Please call or email your legislators NOW and ask them to sign on to the Vega/Jehlen letter!

These are common-sense reforms that would prevent unnecessary arrests and ensure school resource officers are trained in child development, de-escalation techniques, and implicit bias. With your help, this will be a major step in keeping kids in class and out of the school-to-prison pipeline. 

The DEADLINE for having representatives and senators to sign on in support is TODAY, January 9th at 5 p.m.

Click here to find your legislators’ contact information and call TODAY!

You can find the text of the letter on our website here. Thank you for your continued support.

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Action Alert

We need your help. 

Last week, the omnibus criminal justice reform bill (S.2200) passed the Senate with the provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct.

These provisions include:

  1. decriminalizing non-violent misconduct in schools by eliminating the crime of disturbing school assembly; and
  2. requiring that MOUs between schools and police departments include certain provisions clarifying that SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary actions for non-violent school infractions and outlining data collection methods and responsibilities.

But these life-saving provisions are not included in the House bill (H4011).

Research shows that arrests of students for non-violent behavior disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities, and the impact can be devastating. A student who is arrested in school is three times more likely to drop out and is subsequently more likely to go to prison, earn less income, and rely more on public benefits.

Representative Aaron Vega has filed Amendment 86 to include these critical provisions and representatives are debating amendments TODAY. 

Please take a minute NOW to call or email your representative and urge them to support Amendment 86!

If the following representatives are yours, please join us in thanking them for co-sponsoring Amendment 86!

These common-sense reforms would move schools away from unnecessary arrests and ensure school resource officers get training in child development, de-escalation techniques, and implicit bias. With your help, this will be a major step in keeping kids in class and out of the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Click here to find your representative’s contact information and call TODAY!

Thank you for your continued support.

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Action Alert

You did it!

Your tireless efforts have paid off! After intense debate last week, the omnibus criminal justice reform bill (S.2200) passed the Senate! Key provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct were also included in the final Senate bill, which means we are one step closer to dismantling the school-to-prison-pipeline!

Specifically, sections 34, 267, and 268 of S.2200 contain provisions:

  1. decriminalizing non-violent misconduct in schools by eliminating the crime of disturbing school assembly; and
  2. requiring that MOUs between schools and police departments include certain provisions clarifying that SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary actions for non-violent school infractions and outlining data collection methods and responsibilities.

Like suspensions and expulsions, arrests of students for non-violent behavior disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities.

I want to thank you for fighting to preserve these vital sections in the final bill to keep at-risk kids safe and in school.

But it’s not over yet!

The bill has passed the Senate and we expect it to be taken up by the House the week of November 13th. Stay tuned for advocacy opportunities in the House and in the meantime, be sure to call your Senator and thank them for protecting vulnerable youth.

Click here to find your state Senator’s contact information.

Thank you for your continued support.

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