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


House Passes COVID-19 Relief Bill: Action Needed to Help Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

On February 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its latest COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act, H.R. 1319. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to be amended, then sent back to the House for approval. SchoolHouse Connection is pleased to see broad support for low-income families and young adults, and especially the extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit to unaccompanied homeless youth and foster youth at age 18. However, we remain deeply concerned by the lack of dedicated funding for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

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NEW RESOURCES


Principles of Youth Engagement

Youth with lived experience are our strongest partners and our greatest resource. They are experts that bring invaluable perspectives, innovative ideas, and critical feedback that informs our practice. If we want to improve our programs, policies, and practices, we must engage as many youth as we can, as often as we can.

This document is our effort to document what we have learned, but more importantly what our students have taught us about how to ethically and efficiently engage youth. It is a living document, because as with all of our work at SchoolHouse Connection, ethical youth engagement is a continuous learning process, and we learn and adapt as we go.

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Tax Guidelines for Scholarships, Fellowships, and Grants

Taxes can be confusing, especially for young adults who have never had to file taxes before. Yet when beginning college, it is important to learn about and understand how scholarships impact your taxes, so that you are prepared at tax time. There are simple guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that help you determine if you will claim all or part of your scholarship amounts as income on your taxes, meaning you are required to pay taxes on them.

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GUEST BLOGS


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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Early Learning Advocacy in Washington State

“Given the alarming number of young children experiencing homelessness outside the K-12 school system in Washington State, we wanted to learn more about how early learning programs can better support these children and their families. We decided to look into identifying and improving state policies and encouraging collaboration between housing and early learning providers.” In this two-part blog, Megan Veith and Katara Jordan, Senior Managers at Building Changes, share activities and learnings through the State Partnerships grant of the Education Leads Home campaign (Part One), and updates and the impacts of COVID-19 on children and families experiencing homelessness in Washington state (Part Two).

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Q & A FROM OUR INBOXES

What USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) rules are applicable as we return to school this year?

Answer: At the start of school closures in the spring, FNS waived the requirement to serve school meals in a congregate setting; allowed delivery of school meals; and waived meal time requirements. Parents and guardians also were permitted to pick up or receive meals...

Can an LEA deny a McKinney-Vento student enrollment in a learning model (distance vs. in-person vs. hybrid) if the LEA has reached capacity in the desired learning model? For example, a family was not able to make the enrollment choice by the LEA’s deadline due to homelessness, or a parent changes her mind after a few weeks.

Answer: There is specific language in the McKinney-Vento Act that addresses this question. First: “C) IMMEDIATE ENROLLMENT- (i) IN GENERAL.-- The school selected in accordance with this paragraph shall immediately enroll the homeless child or youth, even if the child...

We have an unaccompanied homeless youth staying with us. We are trying to help him enroll in community college. The college said that he should fill out the FAFSA and ask his mother to fill out her portion. If she refuses, they will set up an interview to assess if he qualifies as homeless. Is this right?

Answer: No. The student should not ask his mother to complete the FAFSA.  He qualifies as an unaccompanied homeless youth and is independent for the FAFSA. If he cannot produce verification from a liaison or shelter, then the financial aid administrator (FAA) at his...

My transportation director is trying to put a mileage limit on how far we transport our McKinney Vento students. Does the McKinney-Vento Act permit a blanket mileage limit for school of origin transportation?

Answer: No it does not. The McKinney-Vento Act requires LEAs to provide transportation to the school of origin at the request of a parent or guardian or, for unaccompanied youth, at the McKinney-Vento liaison’s request. 42 USC 11432(g)(1)(J)(iii). Transportation...

Can an LEA reserve Title I-A funds only for transportation and/or only for the liaison, and reserve nothing for comparable services?

Answer: No. The Title I homeless set-aside requires the provision of comparable services. 20 U.S.C. 6313(c)(3) The homeless set-aside is required of all LEAs that get Title IA funds. Comparable services are required as part of that set-aside. Additional set-aside...

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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