Many new reports on children and youth homelessness, education, and related issues have been released over the past few weeks. Here are the key takeaways. 

COVID-19 Related
Missing in the Margins: Estimating the Scale of the COVID-19 Attendance Crisis, by Bellwether Education Partners. This report estimates that between 1 and 3 million of the most educationally-marginalized students — including students experiencing homelessness — have not attended school since the beginning of the pandemic. It explores why they are missing school, the consequences, and what policymakers and educators should do to respond to this crisis.
  • Key Takeaway: Educators and policymakers should respond to this emergency through specific strategies, including adopting attendance intervention strategies, disaggregating attendance data in real time, and internally identifying and following up with individual students who went missing between spring and fall.
  • Related Resource: Identifying Students Experiencing Homelessness During School Building Closures
Lessons From Early Implementation of Pandemic-EBT: Opportunities to Strengthen Rollout for School Year 2020-2021, by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Food Research & Action Center. This report reviews early findings regarding state implementation of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) and notes that officials and stakeholders had difficulty reaching children in foster care, children who are homeless, and children in immigrant families. It provides recommendations for states to consider as they design their P-EBT programs for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • Key Takeaway: By partnering with service providers and community groups that have earned the trust of marginalized children and families, states can more effectively deliver benefits to them. In the case of children and youth experiencing homelessness, the school district’s homeless education liaison can help with communication and distributing EBT cards.
  • Related Resources:
Early Childhood

Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles: 2013-14 to 2017-18 (2020), by the U.S. Department of Education. This report compiles five years of data from multiple sources from the 2013-14 school year to the 2017–18 school year to provide information on the extent of early childhood homelessness and the availability of federally-funded early childhood education for young children experiencing homelessness across the United States. Having five-year trend data helps policymakers and the public understand the evolving prevalence and nature of early childhood homelessness.

K-12 Education

Building a Grad Nation 2020, by Civic and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, and released annually in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education and America’s Promise Alliance. This report examines both progress and challenges toward reaching the GradNation campaign goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent.

  • Key Takeaway: Using cohort counts from 49 states plus the District of Columbia, the authors estimate a national graduation rate of 67.5 percent for students experiencing homelessness, which is 12% lower than economically disadvantaged students, and 18% below all students.

Strategies for Success: Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness, by Civic, in Partnership with the Education Leads Home campaign. Based on interviews with educators in Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas, and Virginia, this report identifies strategies that schools and districts are using to successfully mitigate the challenges students experiencing homelessness face in attending and succeeding in school.

Higher Education

 FAFSA & Homeless Youth: Challenges + Recommendations in the COVID-19 Era, by SchoolHouse Connection. This report examines six years of financial aid data for unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY). These data demonstrate continued barriers to financial aid access – barriers that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. It recommends policy changes at the federal and state level, as well as improved practices for K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and homeless service providers.

  • Key Takeaway: There is great variation among states in six-year trends and two-year trends, with most states showing increases, but some states showing negligible changes, or even decreases. Determinations by financial aid administrators continue to lag behind those made by homeless education liaisons and service providers.
  • Related Resource: Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Youth Homelessness

Making Good on the Promise: Improving Equity in and Access to Quality CTE Programs for Students Experiencing Homelessness, by Advancing CTE and the National Center for Homeless Education. This report identifies common barriers to high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways for students experiencing homelessness, and recommends strategies for how CTE and homeless education leaders can work together to build new opportunities for learners experiencing homelessness in their state to access and succeed in CTE programs.

Youth Homelessness

Challenges & Opportunities in Addressing Rural Youth Homelessness, by Chapin Hall and the National Network for Youth. Based on virtual focus groups with national and state stakeholders, young adults with lived experience of homelessness, and cross-system stakeholders from five different rural regions, this qualitative study examines how rural communities are responding to youth homelessness.

  • Key Takeaway: While rural schools are a strategic place to identify youth and raise awareness about youth homelessness, young people reported that when they first needed support they were not aware of the existence of federally-required school-based youth homelessness liaisons.
  • Related Resource: Resources for K-12 and college students written by students, including a PSA narrated by Dez, a formerly homeless youth who is now in college.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Revised Federal Strategic Plan

Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness, by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. This revised federal strategic plan on homelessness examines both education and housing homelessness data over the past ten years and identifies strategic actions to reduce homelessness.

  • Key Takeaway: The total number of children and youth identified as experiencing homelessness and enrolled in public schools increased from 679,724 in the 2006–2007 school year to 1,508,265 in the 2017-2018 school year, a 122 percent increase. The report recommends revising policies and practices to remove barriers to accessing federal early care, education, job training, employment, health and housing programs
State-Specific Reports on Child and Student Homelessness

Hawai‘i Early Childhood Homelessness Needs Assessment, by the University of Hawa’i Center on the Family. This report summarizes findings from a needs assessment to identify barriers and supports to enrolling and retaining young children experiencing homelessness in early learning programs; share lessons learned from leaders in the field; develop strategies to increase collaboration between early learning (EL) and homeless services providers; and understand how to assist early learning providers serving for the first time.

State of Crisis: Dismantling Student Homelessness in California, by UCLA’s Center for the Transportation of Schools. This report summarizes stakeholder and student interviews and analyzes patterns in state data from the 2018-2019 academic school year for school districts and counties, including 1) suspension rates, 2) chronic absenteeism rates, 3) graduation rates, and 4) UC/CSU readiness rates. It describes practices, policies, and priorities that can improve services for the growing number of young people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness in the state of California.

2020 Educational Attainment and Economic Prosperity: Improving the Outcomes for Students Experiencing Homelessness, by School on Wheels and Indiana Youth Institute. This report analyzes 2018-19 data from the Indiana Department of Education on student homelessness, including suspension rates, racial disparities, academic assessments, and graduation rates. It also outlines practical recommendations to identify who is homeless, support those in need, and educate them for future success. 

Beating the Odds: How Can Schools and Districts Support Students Experiencing Homelessness?, by Building Changes. This report summarizes findings from a study of high-performing schools and districts in Washington state that show positive educational outcomes for students experiencing homelessness, and identifies practices that schools with better outcomes use to support students experiencing homelessness.

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