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AB-775 Public postsecondary education: basic needs of students.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 04/13/2021 09:00 PM
AB775:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 13, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 23, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 775


Introduced by Assembly Member Berman

February 16, 2021


An act to add Section 66023.5 to the Education Code, relating to public postsecondary education.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 775, as amended, Berman. Public postsecondary education: basic needs of students.
(1) Existing law establishes the California Community Colleges, under the administration of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, as one of the 3 segments of public postsecondary education in this state. Existing law establishes community college districts throughout the state, and authorizes them to provide instruction to students at community college campuses.
Existing law requests campuses of the California Community Colleges to give priority for certain student housing to current and former homeless youth, as specified, and requests those campuses to develop a plan to ensure that current and former homeless youth can access housing resources during and between academic terms, including during academic and campus breaks. Existing law defines homeless youth for these purposes.
This bill would express legislative findings and declarations about the impact of basic needs insecurity on college students.
This bill would require each campus of the California Community Colleges, no later than July 1, 2022, to establish the position of Basic Needs Coordinator and designate a staff person as the Basic Needs Coordinator. The bill would require a basic needs coordinator to act as a broker in identifying, supporting, and linking students to on- and off-campus housing, food, mental health, and other basic needs services and resources, among other responsibilities. The bill would also require each campus, no later than July 1, 2022, to establish a Basic Needs Center, which would be a central location on campus where basic needs services, resources, and staff would be made available to students, as specified. The bill would require each Basic Needs Center, among other duties, to help students to have the information needed to enroll in CalFresh and other relevant government benefit programs. The bill would require campuses to endeavor, to the extent feasible, to use a portion of any funds made available for basic needs support for providing funds directly to students to address urgent needs, as specified.
This bill would further require each campus, no later than February 1, 2022, to develop a document to be made available to students online that clearly lists all on- and off-campus basic needs services and resources, as specified. The bill would require each campus to provide the document to students as a part of campus orientations in either electronic format or paper form, and to provide to faculty, and encourage the faculty to include in their syllabi, the online link to the electronic format of the document, the location of the Basic Needs Center, and the contact information for the coordinator. The bill would also require each campus, no later than February 1, 2022, to streamline the application and intake process for on-campus basic needs services and resources, to develop and implement a plan to identify and provide outreach to students who have basic needs insecurity, and to develop a student basic needs tab that is clearly visible and easily accessible from a drop-down menu on the home page of the internet website of the campus, as specified.
This bill would require each community college campus to report specified information to the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, and would require that the office to develop and submit to the Governor and the Legislature every 2 years beginning on or before May 1, 2023, a report based on the data and information reported by campuses under the bill.
Because the bill would impose new duties on community college districts, it would constitute a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California students are struggling to meet their basic needs and are facing housing insecurity, including homelessness, and food insecurity at alarming rates.
(b) A report released in March 2019 by the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges and the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that 19 percent of the survey’s respondents experienced homelessness in the previous year, 60 percent of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year, and 50 percent of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days.
(c) Some groups of students are disproportionately impacted by basic needs insecurity. Students of color, first-generation college students, financial aid recipients, former foster youth, and student parents are at much higher risk.
(d) Basic needs insecurity has a direct impact on student academic success. Students experiencing basic needs insecurity are much more likely to not buy textbooks, to miss, drop, or fail classes, and to withdraw from school entirely. In addition, these students consistently report high levels of stress and other mental health issues, which negatively impact academic performance and health in general.
(e) Addressing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education, a book that provides research-based information and tools for educators and higher education professionals to build effective institutional supports for college students facing housing insecurity, found all of the following:
(1) “Understanding how basic needs insecurity exists on and around your campus is an important first step. In order to develop a more fully informed understanding of students’ unmet basic needs on your campus, we recommend that you use a mix of survey data collection to learn about the size and scope of the issues as well as using interviews and focus groups to illustrate the experiences from the viewpoints of students. Additionally, you can include institutional data you previously gathered about student demographics, financial aid use, and the cost of living that may be helpful for expanding the findings of your institution’s evaluation.”
(2) “Students who need support often have a difficult time finding and accessing supports on campus. Campuses can have complex interlocking or disconnected systems that can be difficult to negotiate while managing the stress of homelessness. Students must traverse through complicated financial aid processes and seek appropriate campus support services, while managing courses and other responsibilities.”
(3) “A centralized and coordinated effort can more easily be publicized in a way that all students can benefit. Developing a coordinated strategy increases the likelihood that students, faculty, and staff can more easily access the various forms of support.”
(4) “Research and anecdotal feedback indicate that students who have a single point of contact experienced feelings of campus connection, care, and success in their university communities. Additionally, single point of contact staff can destigmatize students’ use of on-campus supportive services.”
(5) “We recommend creating an integrated approach that includes housing and food insecurity programming working collaboratively. Both services should be in a centrally located space on campus. Students applying to one service should be given information about the other services.”
(6) “Having a web presence with information about services available is important. Students may resist disclosing their circumstances to another person, but they may feel more confident in doing so if they have had the opportunity to explore available resources electronically. Creating a webpage with available resources as well as short stories normalizing students’ circumstances can be a helpful tool in identifying students who need support.”
(f) Community colleges have begun taking steps to meet the basic needs of their students through food pantries, housing-related efforts, and other services and resources. However, students have expressed that the current system is often fragmented, with no single point of contact tasked with overseeing existing basic needs services and resources.
(g) Some community colleges are already moving in the direction of a more coordinated and integrated approach.

SEC. 2.

 Section 66023.5 is added to the Education Code, to read:

66023.5.
 (a) As used in this section:
(1) “Basic needs services and resources” includes, but is not limited to, housing, food, clothing, feminine hygiene, diapers, technology, and mental health services and resources.
(2) “Coordinator” means a basic needs coordinator established pursuant to this section.
(b) Each campus of the California Community Colleges shall do all of the following:
(1) No later than July 1, 2022, establish the position of the Basic Needs Coordinator, and designate a staff person as the Basic Needs Coordinator to serve as the single point of contact for students experiencing basic needs insecurity related to basic needs services and resources. The coordinator shall act as a broker in identifying, supporting, and linking students to on- and off-campus housing, food, mental health, and other basic needs services and resources. To ensure the effectiveness and impact of this position, the coordinator shall be a dedicated position solely focused on addressing the basic needs of students. The coordinator shall oversee and coordinate with other staff tasked with addressing students’ basic needs, shall inform students of all on- and off-campus basic needs services and resources and how to access them, and shall develop on- and off-campus partnerships to provide basic needs services and resources to their students.
(2) (A) No later than July 1, 2022, establish a Basic Needs Center, which means a central location on campus where basic needs services, resources, and staff are made available to students. The Basic Needs Center is intended to be a one-stop, single location and point of contact for students to more easily access and gain awareness of basic needs services and resources. The campus shall make a reasonable effort to locate all on-campus basic needs services and resources at the Basic Needs Center. If the campus cannot reasonably locate all basic needs services or resources at the Basic Needs Center, the campus shall provide students with the location and contact information, including name, phone telephone number, and email address, for all basic needs services and resources not located in the Basic Needs Center. The coordinator shall be housed in the Basic Needs Center.
(B) Each Basic Needs Center shall help ensure that students have the information they need to enroll in CalFresh and other relevant government benefits programs. Each Basic Needs Center shall coordinate with their campus Financial Aid Department and shall connect students to the Financial Aid Department as appropriate to ensure that students are receiving all available financial aid. Each Basic Needs Center shall coordinate with their local homelessness response system to refer students to community resources available to address homelessness in addition to services and resources provided by the campus. Basic Needs Centers shall be authorized to provide support to students who can be reasonably expected to enroll in the upcoming term as well as and to provide support to students during summer and winter breaks who were previously enrolled or are enrolled for the upcoming fall or spring term.
(C) Campuses shall endeavor, to the extent feasible, to use a portion of any funds made available for basic needs support for providing funds directly to students to address urgent needs. To the extent that a Basic Needs Center is already in place, that center may be used to satisfy the requirements of this section. If the existing Basic Needs Center fulfills only part of the requirements of this section, basic needs services and resources shall be expanded as needed to satisfy all the requirements of this section.
(3) (A) No later than February 1, 2022, develop a document that shall be provided to students at the Basic Needs Center in either electronic format or paper form, and that shall be made available to students online, that clearly lists all on- and off-campus basic needs services and resources that includes, but is not necessarily limited to, all of the following:
(i) The description of the service or resource.
(ii) The location of where the service or resource is provided.
(iii) The point of contact for the service or resource, including a name, phone telephone number, and email address.
(iv) Any eligibility restrictions on accessing the service or resource.
(B) Provide the document to students as a part of campus orientations in either electronic format or paper form.
(C) Provide to faculty the online link to the electronic format of the document, the location of the Basic Needs Center, and the contact information for the coordinator and encourage faculty to include the online link to the electronic format of the document, the location of the Basic Needs Center, and the contact information for the coordinator in their syllabi.
(D) To ensure that the document remains useful to students, the document shall be reviewed, updated, and made available online on both the internet website of the campus via the student basic needs tab and the internet website-based student account associated with a student’s attendance at the institution, as specified in paragraph (6), no later than the first day of every fall and spring semester or no later than the first day of every fall and spring quarter.
(4) No later than February 1, 2022, streamline the application and intake process for on-campus basic needs services and resources to minimize duplication and eliminate barriers to access. If an application is required, develop and use a single application for students to receive on-campus basic needs services and resources.
(5) No later than February 1, 2022, develop and implement a plan to identify and provide outreach to students, including nontraditional students, who have basic needs insecurity related to housing, food, and mental health. Once the coordinator is designated and the Basic Needs Center is established, the outreach shall include information about the coordinator and the Basic Needs Center.
(6) No later than February 1, 2022, provide a student basic needs tab that is clearly visible and easily accessible from a drop-down menu on the home page of the campus’s internet website and include the information described in paragraph (3) conspicuously on both the internet website of the campus via the student basic needs tab and the internet website-based student account associated with a student’s attendance at the institution. Once the coordinator is designated and the Basic Needs Center is established, information about the coordinator and Basic Needs Center shall also be included on both the internet website of the campus via the student basic needs tab and the internet website-based student account associated with a student’s attendance at the institution.
(c) (1) Each campus of the California Community Colleges shall report to the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges information that shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, all of the following:
(A) The description and number of basic needs services and resources, broken down by category.
(B) The number of students served by the basic needs services and resources.
(C) The socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds of these students.
(D) Challenges and best practices in the implementation of the basic needs services and resources.
(E) Whether students who used the basic needs services and resources remained enrolled or graduated from a campus maintained by the district.
(2) The data and information reported under this subdivision shall be disaggregated by each basic needs service and resource, where applicable.
(d) The office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges shall develop and submit to the Governor and the Legislature every two years beginning on or before May 1, 2023, a report based on the data and information reported by campuses pursuant to subdivision (c).

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.