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


Urgent Action Needed: Support FY22 Funding for Homeless Children and Youth

U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Don Bacon (R-NE) are circulating a bipartisan “Dear Colleague letter” in support of FY2022 funding increases for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA program). Take action to support FY22 funding for homeless children and youth.

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Congress Passes the American Rescue Act Plan: Funding for Homeless Children and Youth Included

On March 10, 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, H.R. 1319, its most recent package for COVID-19 relief. SchoolHouse Connection is thrilled that one of our top priorities made it into the final legislation: dedicated funding to support the identification, enrollment, and school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness, including through wrap-around services. The $800 million in funding is more funding than Congress has appropriated for the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness over the last ten years, combined. The funds come from the nearly $123 billion in aid within the bill for K-12 education.

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Senate Passes COVID Bill with $800 Million for Homeless Children and Youth

On Saturday, March 6, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, sending the $1.9 trillion package back to the House for final adoption. Senators approved by voice vote a bipartisan amendment offered by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to provide $800 million in dedicated funding to support the identification, enrollment, and school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness, including through wrap-around services.

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NEW RESOURCES


Don’t Forget the FAFSA: 5 Quick Tips for Liaisons

One of the homeless liaison’s responsibilities is informing unaccompanied homeless youth (youth who are not in the physical custody of their parents or guardians) of their status as independent students for the FAFSA, and helping them receive FAFSA determinations. Liaisons can help implement this responsibility – which is even more important in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic – by following these five steps.

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GUEST BLOGS


Empowering People, Impacting Change

Written by Audrey Ann Crocker, University of South Carolina Social Worker Graduate Intern and Colin Bauer, District Social Worker & McKinney-Vento Liaison, Spartanburg School District 7, South Carolina. “It was mid-summer when one of our volunteers, Melissa, contacted Colin Bauer, a social worker with School District 7, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was also mid-pandemic and the needs of our families in District 7 were at an all-time high. Melissa felt drawn to respond to the needs of these families after witnessing several experiences of poverty in the area, which highlighted how many of our families did not have the shelter and the food they needed.”

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In-person, Online, or a Combination: Meeting the Needs of McKinney-Vento Students in a Rural School District

Written by Colleen Flanagan, Homeless Liaison, Executive Assistant for Student Support Services, Orting School District, Washington. In Orting, it was clear back in September that a few of our student groups really needed to come back to in-person learning as soon as possible. We began the work to provide priority for in person learning, focusing on two groups. One was our students with IEPs, specifically those with the most significant disabilities and whose families were struggling at home with online schooling. The other group was our McKinney-Vento students.

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Stabilizing Families Through a School-Centered Housing Response

This blog is written by Ann Willemssen, Director, UPD Consulting. UPD Consulting, in collaboration with the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development and Baltimore City Schools, recently designed a model program which connects affordable housing opportunities to elementary school families. The work started as an idea by a Baltimore elementary school principal who noticed, while placing his McKinney Vento-identified students into taxi cabs to stay in shelters and on couches across town, that there were vacant homes right across the street that could be put to better use.

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Q & A FROM OUR INBOXES

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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