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

POLICY UPDATES


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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What’s in the Build Back Better Act for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness – And Why It Matters

On November 3, updated bill text was released for the Build Back Better Act, the Biden Administration’s social spending package.
While negotiations continue and the legislation is likely to change before it is finalized, the details provided so far are cause for hope for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. SchoolHouse Connection strongly supports this legislation, and urges Congress to pass it quickly. We provide a high-level summary of provisions that are most closely related to child, youth, and family homelessness, and why they matter.

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Senate Committee Proposes 38% Funding Increase for Homeless Education Program

On October 18, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations released its fiscal year 2022 (FY2022) spending bills, which include a proposed 38% increase in funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program. The Committee also proposed FY2022 increases for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program and other homelessness programs. Here’s a breakdown.

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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

We will be welcoming a large group of Afghan refugees next week, and we are starting the conversation around support and school enrollment for the children. I am familiar with McKinney-Vento language inclusive of migrant families, but is there anything in the language that would address the needs of refugees specifically?

Answer: There is nothing in the McKinney-Vento Act particular to refugees. However, the McKinney-Vento Act applies fully to all refugees experiencing homelessness. In general, liaisons receiving families from Afghanistan should identify them as McKinney-Vento eligible...

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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