SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and practical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth.

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POLICY UPDATES


New Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Remove Barriers to Postsecondary Education for Homeless and Foster Youth

On Thursday, December 9, the “Helping Foster and Homeless Youth Achieve Act” was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rob Portman (R-OH). This bipartisan legislation removes barriers to higher education for youth experiencing homelessness and youth formerly in foster care by requiring federally-funded institutions of higher education waive application fees for foster and homeless youth.

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Recommendations for the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

SHC’s recommendations are based on our daily direct interaction with our network, as well as decades of experience witnessing the many ways that previous federal strategic plans have fallen short, or failed outright. It is our hope that in light of the persistent — and often generational — crisis of homelessness, the Biden-Harris Administration will pursue fresh perspectives and new ideas. It is in this spirit that we offer the following feedback.

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NEW RESOURCES


Inform Students Experiencing Homelessness of the FAFSA: Use This Email Template

It is important to remind students that the FAFSA is available so they can pursue postsecondary education with as much financial aid as possible. Direct outreach to unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness is crucial. The email template can be used by liaisons, service providers, and financial aid administrators to inform students experiencing homelessness that the 2022-2023 FAFSA is now available, and specific steps to help them complete the application.

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How to Answer FAFSA Questions About Homelessness

You must fill out a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year that you’re applying for college. If you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless, you will need to provide additional documentation every year. This resource will help you navigate answering the questions about homelessness and how to request that additional documentation.

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The 2022-2023 FAFSA is Out: Five Tips for Helping Youth

This year, more than ever, helping youth complete the FAFSA will take extra attention and effort, but is especially important to help youth achieve future stability through higher education. The 2022-2023 FAFSA is available starting on October 1, 2021. Here are five actions you can take to help homeless and foster youth fill out the FAFSA.

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GUEST BLOGS


Children’s Grief and Homelessness in the Pandemic and Beyond

November, both is Children’s Grief Awareness Month and includes National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week. In recognition of these twin tragedies, we interviewed Debra Albo-Steiger, CEO of Children’s Bereavement Center in Miami and former homeless liaison for Miami-Dade Public Schools, about the connection between grief and homelessness, and how school district liaisons can help grieving students.

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Partnering with Black Community Based Organizations to Address Student Homelessness

Written by Earl Edwards. “As a researcher, I have spent the past six years analyzing the intersections of youth homelessness and racial inequity and have found that for several reasons, many Black youth are not disclosing their homelessness status, and attempts to identify and support them continue to fall short.” This blog describes how Black community-based organizations are underutilized resources for helping Black youth thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, especially those experiencing homelessness.

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Q & A FROM OUR INBOXES

If Afghan evacuees are at a military base, should they be identified as McKinney-Vento eligible? Or should we wait until they are in the community to evaluate the situation?

Answer: Liaisons should identify the children as McKinney-Vento eligible now, because they lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence at this time. The vast majority will continue to be eligible after they leave the base, as well. Even if they receive...

Our state has a “15-day drop rule” stating a student is withdrawn if the student has not been going to school for 15 consecutive days. Do we have to inform parents of unaccompanied homeless youth of this drop?

Answer: The McKinney-Vento Act requires LEAs to review and revise policies that act as barriers to the identification, enrollment, and retention of homeless children and youth, including barriers caused by absences. 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(I). Therefore, if students miss...

We want to do a parent group in our district, and some of our families are currently experiencing homelessness. Can we provide transportation to those parents through McKinney-Vento funds?

Answer: Yes, you certainly can use McKinney-Vento funds to provide transportation for parents experiencing homelessness to attend your parent group. That would fall under this allowable use of funds from the law: "(10) The provision of education and training to the...

Can an LEA use a mileage formula to determine when and whether to transport a McKinney-Vento student?

Answer: No, a formula for transportation is not allowable. Transportation has to be based on the requirements in the law, which include transportation to the school of origin (42 USC §11432(g)(1)(J)), and also transportation as needed to remove barriers to enrollment...

I have an unaccompanied youth who is not in agreement with his parents about his IEP. He is currently living in a youth shelter until he turns 18. The student is working hard to advocate for himself, and the parents are creating many barriers to his education. Can my student have another adult identified as the guardian and signer of the IEPs? Do his parents maintain the right to sign the IEP?

Answer: IDEA gives rights to the parent, not the student. In a situation like this where the parent’s rights have not been terminated or otherwise legally limited, and the parent is acting as a parent through the special education process, the school must follow the...

Early Childhood

Infants are at greater risk of living in homeless shelters than any other age group in the United States. Early childhood programs prevent the harmful life-long effects of homelessness on education, health and well-being.

PreK - 12

In the 2017-18 school year, public schools identified more than 1.5 million homeless students. Schools provide basic needs, caring adults, stability, normalcy, and the skills to avoid homelessness as adults.

Higher Education

The majority of well-paying jobs created today require education beyond high school. Post-secondary attainment is increasingly necessary to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and live a healthy, productive life.

Unaccompanied Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people experiencing homelessness who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness each year.

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How to Contact your McKinney-Vento Liaison

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every local educational agency is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youth. The local educational agency liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and youths enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.

Click HERE to find the contact information of your local homeless education liaison.

Note: This contact information may change frequently due to staff turnover. If you have problems finding the right school district homeless liaison, please contact your state homeless education coordinator.

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