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


$800M in Funds Announced: Help is Here for Homeless Students

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the availability of $800 million to support the identification, enrollment, participation, and success of children and youth experiencing homelessness, and to provide them with wrap-around services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is eight times the FY2021 appropriation for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, and more than the previous ten years of EHCY funding combined.

Congressional Hearing Held on Reengaging Students Experiencing Homelessness and Students in Foster Care

On May 19, 2021, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing entitled, “Picking up the Pieces: Strengthening Connections with Students Experiencing Homelessness and Children in Foster Care.” The hearing focused on the need for intensive efforts to re-engage students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care, and how funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act can be utilized in these efforts.

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NEW RESOURCES


Supporting Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness with American Rescue Plan Act Funds

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), Congress’ most recent package for COVID-19 relief, includes billions of dollars dedicated to infants, toddlers, and children under the age of six. In addition to the $800 million in education funding included for identifying and supporting children and youth experiencing homelessness, there are opportunities across other funding streams to target supports for young children and families experiencing homelessness. This document provides recommendations for home visiting, child care providers, head start and early head start programs, and local education agencies.

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Navigating the American Rescue Plan Act’s Relief for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness

The American Rescue Plan Act provides significant new resources to meet the education, early care, food, housing, and other basic needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. This navigation tool is designed to help early care, educators, and service providers navigate the major funding streams and connect with local and state agencies to help families and youth access assistance.

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GUEST BLOGS


As Communities Reopen, Remember the Library

Written by Vikki C. Terrile, Librarian and Assistant Professor, Queensborough Community College, CUNY, Bayside, NY. “Libraries are often a lifeline for families in homeless situations. Prior to the pandemic, they were the place where kids and parents could come to use computers, access services, attend programs, and of course, read and borrow books and other materials. For families staying in shelters or other settings that required them to leave during the day, libraries were likely the only safe indoor space they could visit that didn’t cost money while also offering a wide range of services and amenities.”

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The Pursuit of Education: A Story of Homelessness, Perseverance, and the Impact of Caring Educators

By SchoolHouse Connection’s Scholar Jahnee S.. “I was 8 years old when I first experienced homelessness. Homelessness then became a struggle that my family and I couldn’t escape. I experienced standing in the snow, hoping my family and I had a place to sleep on a church floor; how packed and unsanitary emergency shelters are, as I got lice within two days of staying there; how “The Florida Project” brought me flashbacks to the many months my family lived in motels, and how I viewed peers with “the basic necessities” with such envy.”

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Engaging and Re-engaging Students: Conversations with Three Homeless Liaisons

Throughout the month of February, we hosted a series of conversations titled “Engaging and Re-engaging Students Experiencing Homelessness During the Pandemic,” to allow homeless liaisons a space to share their challenges and best practices to support students experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Here are those conversations.

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Q & A FROM OUR INBOXES

Can unaccompanied youth consent for a COVID-19 vaccine without a parent or legal guardian?

Answer: Medical consent laws for minors vary depending on the state and the type of care.  In most states, unaccompanied youth under age 18 can consent for routine medical care, which would encompass vaccines. A few states have specific laws on immunizations. For a...

We have an unaccompanied 17 year old student who wants to drop out. She does not want her father (her only parent) to know. Can she sign her own papers for dropping out? Do we need to tell the parent?

Answer: In general, the process for dropping out should be the same for this student as for other students. However, prior to informing the student’s father, it would be critical to discuss potential safety issues with her. For example, does the student fear abuse or...

Can we provide our Head Start agency with letters verifying homelessness? In our area, children experiencing homelessness automatically receive child care subsidies, so we provide letters.

Answer: Under FERPA, it depends on a few things. First, is the Head Start program administered by the school district?  If so, you can share the information, because you are sharing it with another district official for a legitimate educational reason. If not, do 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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