2021 Year-In-Review

A Message from Your SchoolHouse Connection Team

As the year comes to a close, we are pleased to share our 2021 Year-in-Review, a multi-media retrospective of our collective impact. You can watch the moment that the American Rescue Plan Act Homeless Children and Youth Fund was born, listen to words of wisdom from homeless liaisons, get inspiration from young people, and find out which SHC resources were the most accessed.

While we are proud of what we achieved, our accomplishments are not ours alone — they also belong to our dedicated network of educators, service providers, youth, and families; our passionate coalition partners, and our steadfast and supportive funders.

May you find hope and inspiration in this year’s top accomplishments, and may you remember old favorites (or discover new ones) in our end-of-the-year “Top Five Lists.”

We are grateful for your partnership, and wish you a peaceful holiday season and joyous new year.

Top federal Policy Advocacy Accomplishment

$800 million to support the identification, enrollment, and school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

SHC led advocacy for the American Rescue Plan Act Homeless Children and Youth funds (ARP-HCY): we conducted research demonstrating the need for dedicated funding, worked closely with legislators, and mobilized grassroots support. ARP-HCY is eight times the annual appropriation for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, more than the previous ten years of EHCY funding combined, and the single largest investment in child and youth homelessness in the nation’s history. The unprecedented amount and flexibility of funding will allow schools to increase their capacity to identify, re-engage, and support children and youth experiencing homelessness at a time of growing need.

8X

ARP-HCY is eight times the annual appropriation for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, more than the previous ten years of EHCY funding combined.

“The resources provided through ARP are the resources I needed when I was experiencing homelessness and I am confident that these resources will be life-changing for students like me.”

Chandler S.

SHC Scholar Blog on the U.S. Department of Education website

[Above] Watch the moment it happened! U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) makes history with her bipartisan amendment to support homeless children and youth in the American Rescue Plan Act.

14

Number of state policy reforms in 11 states.

88,224

Number of youth SHC impacted.

“Without the help of Patricia Julianelle and her team at SchoolHouse Connection, North Dakota would not have passed legislation this year to allow unaccompanied youth to gain access to their own vital records and have access to health care. The youth who led the project came up with the challenges that they wanted to address, and Patricia and our local team worked together to make it happen, alongside the youth. SchoolHouse Connection gets it. They have the expertise to help youth-led projects go from a good listening session to actions that change the lives of future generations of homeless youth!”

Mark Heinert, Assistant Executive Director, Youthworks ND

Top State Policy Advocacy Accomplishments

14 state policy reforms that will make a difference for 88,224 homeless youth in 11 states.

Our success rate in achieving proposed policy changes exceeded 80 percent, with highlights including:

  • New laws in Nevada and North Dakota to help unaccompanied youth access health care at the height of a pandemic.
  • $4.4 million in Oregon for housing programs for unaccompanied youth, including $2.4 million for host homes.
  • Groundbreaking changes to school discipline policies in Nevada to keep homeless and foster students in school.
  • New laws in Montana and Maine that facilitate high school graduation for students experiencing homelessness, foster care, juvenile justice involvement, and other students with disrupted education.

Top K-12 Education Accomplishment

Helping state and local educational agencies in all 50 states utilize the $800 million in American Rescue Plan Act Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds.

  • Within five days of the bill’s passage, we convened state education agency coordinators for the education of homeless children and youth to help solicit practitioner views on the administration of funds.
  • We quickly created four practical tools, and two multi-part series of Q&A webinars featuring individual school district liaisons sharing their creative ideas for using ARP HCY funds.

19% Increase

SHC helped increase the identification of students experiencing homelessness by 19 percent among Los Angeles County school districts. Following our convening in Los Angeles, 43 LEAs submitted specific action plans, resulting in a cumulative 19 percent increase in identified students experiencing homelessness over one school year. This contrasts sharply with the national trend over the same time period, during which LEAs nationally identified 28 percent fewer students experiencing homelessness.

As the federal ban on evictions lifted and rent relief delays continued, SHC highlighted the creative ideas and best practices of school district homeless liaisons, including housing partnerships.

[Above] James Taylor, Director for Student and Social Services, and McKinney Vento liaison of Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Indiana speaking during a webinar on October 7, 2021.

“This was a great webinar! Thank you for helping plant these seeds in programs everywhere. This shows it is possible!”

Dana Malone

State Coordinator, Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, New Mexico Public Education Department

“You all have been most helpful to me in increasing my awareness of the need of our families all while stressing the need to build partnerships in the communities. Every speaker has provided me with a wealth of information that I could not have received anywhere else.”

Terri Mabrey

McKinney-Vento Social Work Coordinator, Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West

“Just wanted to pop in to say that this series has been the highlight of this school year! Thank you for doing this!!”

Michelle Mozingo

McKinney Vento District Liaison for Students in Transition, Wake County Public School System

“Thank you for the great information!! Continue sharing what other states are doing to help and to advocate for our students and families.”

Anonymous

“The webinars are always so informative! Thank you for ALL of your efforts to provide resources, tools, and strategies for us to share with the LEA homeless liaisons.”

Cheryl Myers

Education Specialist, Education Service Center Region 13, Austin, Texas

6

States that are piloting the app.

7

Local educational agencies that are piloting the app.

Top Early Childhood Accomplishment

Developed an app to increase the enrollment of children experiencing homelessness in six states’ Head Start programs.

SchoolHouse Connection and the National Head Start Association developed an app for K-12 homeless education liaisons to instantly and directly provide local Head Start programs with information to help enroll young children experiencing homelessness. To date, six states and seven local educational agencies are piloting the app. Based on estimates of homelessness among children under age six in those states, as many as 209,182 children experiencing homelessness, and their parents, stand to benefit from the comprehensive services Head Start uniquely provides to children and parents.

We are bringing more states to pilot in the next few months of the new year and we hope to launch nationally by the end of 2022!

Top Higher Education Accomplishment

Helped unaccompanied homeless youth access financial aid to pursue postsecondary dreams and achieve economic independence.

12

Number of Higher Education Trainings/Conferences SHC Participated In

Partnership Spotlight

We’re excited to partner with John Burton Advocates for Youth on a #HigherEdEquityChallenge, the first ever financial aid application completion initiative for homeless students in the country. FAFSA completion is a critical component of college access, retention, and success for youth experiencing homelessness. A focused effort to increase FAFSA completion is particularly important in light of the drop in enrollment in postsecondary education due to the pandemic, and in advance of the hard-fought changes to the FAFSA for homeless youth that will go into effect in 2023-2024. We hope to gain insights from the #HigherEdEquityChallenge that can be replicated in other states and nationally.

[Above] This video features Rebecca Araujo, a financial aid administrator from California State University Long Beach, where she shares tips for Financial Aid Administrators helping unaccompanied homeless youth fill out the FAFSA.

[Above] Jillian Sitjar, Senior Higher Education Program Manager at SchoolHouse Connection (second from left), presented at an event hosted by Berks County Intermediate on national best practices for supporting college students experiencing homelessness at West Chester University, PA.

49,601

The number of times SHC’s summary of state minor consent laws was viewed this year.

COVID-19 Recovery

SHC continues to provide timely and effective responses to the needs of schools, communities, and youth during the pandemic. We documented barriers faced by unaccompanied youth in accessing COVID-19 vaccines and testing because they are not in the physical custody of a parent who can provide consent, which is required in many states. We shared information about these barriers with the CDC, and as a result, the CDC linked to SHC’s summary of state minor consent laws on webpage. That summary has been viewed 49,601 times this year, more than any other page on our website.

Education Leads Home

SHC supported twelve state teams to make measurable progress for children and youth experiencing homelessness in early childhood education, K-12 education, and higher education through our “Education Leads Home” Community of Practice. Read our 2020-2021 State Initiatives on Student Homelessness Progress-to-Date Summary to learn more about what the state teams accomplished.

15 States

Convened 15 states through eight virtual convenings to share best practices and tackle common challenges.

8 State Teams

Awarded $50,000 in mini-grants to eight state teams in August.

Education Leads Home 2022

“Education Leads Home 2022: A National Convening on Student Homelessness (ELH2022)” in Austin, Texas on March 7-8, 2022. ELH2022 is a first-of-its-kind, two-day intersectional event that will highlight proven practices from across the country and bring stakeholders together for facilitated action-planning.

13

Number of SHC scholars who graduated in 2021.

24+

Number of presentations our young people co-led.

Youth Leadership

Our young people are one step closer to reaching their goals:

  • Thirteen of our scholars graduated in 2021 with either a high school or post-secondary degree 
  • 100% of our scholars:
    • showed an increase in financial literacy in 2021
    • are engaged in their communities in a meaningful way
    • have stable housing, reliable health care, mental health care, and food security

SHC’s young people took over more leadership roles than ever in all areas of our work, including:

Jordyn Roark, SHC’s Director of Youth Leadership and Scholarships, was featured on Secretary Cardona’s Twitter account, where she shared a video about her experiences as an unaccompanied homeless youth and how the American Rescue Plan would have helped her. 

Anthony, 2019 SchoolHouse Connection Scholar

“SHC has provided me with the necessary means, monetary wise and personally, to ensure that I succeed in my studies at UCLA. The support I’ve received from the team and staff is unmatched, and SHC will be an organization that I consider when I eventually walk across the stage when receiving my degree.”

Christian, 2019 SchoolHouse Connection Scholar

“Even while forced online during these COVID years, Jordyn and everyone else at SHC has proved to be incredibly supportive and helpful both during, and outside of, the semester. And thanks to the scholarship, I was able to afford a much-needed iPad to assist with notes and worksheets that get posted online right before most of my classes.”

Lorinda, 2018 SchoolHouse Connection Scholar

“I became a Scholar in 2018 and have absolutely loved my interactions with the organization ever since. For a lot of organizations I’ve encountered, the engagement ended shortly after the scholarship was awarded. Yet the award was the start of my relationship with SHC, not the end. They have provided a platform for me to speak with countless educators and counselors, and the organization remains committed to crucial advocacy efforts. I will forever be appreciative of SHC.”

Raising Awareness,

Educating the Public

  • We were sought out for our expertise by numerous media outlets and were quoted in more than 40 stories, including Education Week, Chalkbeat, the Wall Street Journal, the National Journal, Teen Vogue, Politico, the Hechinger Report, and the 74 Million.

  • We launched a new series of stories: “Hidden Homelessness: Why Child, Youth, and Family Homelessness is the Crisis We Cannot Ignore.” Through first-person storytelling, the series explores the ways in which homelessness is an equity issue that is inextricably connected to others; it is an experience that many vulnerable student groups face at disproportionate rates and intersects deeply with other national crises of mental health, academic achievement gaps, xenophobia, and the impacts of systemic racism. Our five storytellers — two high school students and three school district homeless liaisons — remind us how the homelessness crisis underlies many others and therefore why federal policies and services for vulnerable children and youth must address the full picture of their lived experiences.

  • We were invited to publish a featured article in School Superintendent, the magazine of AASA, the School Superintendents Association. This award-winning magazine is delivered to every public school superintendent in the United States who is an AASA member and others at the cabinet-level.

44

Number of Media Stories SHC Appeared In

[Above] SHC’s feature article in School Superintendent, entitled “Shaping an Equitable Recovery for Students Without Homes.”

400+

Number of questions received in 2021.

Q&A From Our Inbox

We responded to hundreds of questions from school districts, service providers, and advocates, and compiled our responses on our popular “Q & A from Our Inbox” page.

If Afghan evacuees are at a military base, should they be identified as McKinney-Vento eligible? Or should we wait until they are in the community to evaluate the situation?

Answer: Liaisons should identify the children as McKinney-Vento eligible now, because they lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence at this time. The vast majority will continue to be eligible after they leave the base, as well. Even if they receive...

Our state has a “15-day drop rule” stating a student is withdrawn if the student has not been going to school for 15 consecutive days. Do we have to inform parents of unaccompanied homeless youth of this drop?

Answer: The McKinney-Vento Act requires LEAs to review and revise policies that act as barriers to the identification, enrollment, and retention of homeless children and youth, including barriers caused by absences. 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(I). Therefore, if students miss...

We want to do a parent group in our district, and some of our families are currently experiencing homelessness. Can we provide transportation to those parents through McKinney-Vento funds?

Answer: Yes, you certainly can use McKinney-Vento funds to provide transportation for parents experiencing homelessness to attend your parent group. That would fall under this allowable use of funds from the law: "(10) The provision of education and training to the...

Can an LEA use a mileage formula to determine when and whether to transport a McKinney-Vento student?

Answer: No, a formula for transportation is not allowable. Transportation has to be based on the requirements in the law, which include transportation to the school of origin (42 USC §11432(g)(1)(J)), and also transportation as needed to remove barriers to enrollment...

I have an unaccompanied youth who is not in agreement with his parents about his IEP. He is currently living in a youth shelter until he turns 18. The student is working hard to advocate for himself, and the parents are creating many barriers to his education. Can my student have another adult identified as the guardian and signer of the IEPs? Do his parents maintain the right to sign the IEP?

Answer: IDEA gives rights to the parent, not the student. In a situation like this where the parent’s rights have not been terminated or otherwise legally limited, and the parent is acting as a parent through the special education process, the school must follow the...

TOP 5 RESOURCES OF 2021

State Laws on Minor Consent for Routine Medical Care

McKinney-Vento Act: Quick Reference

Sample Form Letters to Determine the Independent Student Status of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

COVID-19 and Homelessness: Strategies for Schools, Early Learning Programs, and Higher Education Institutions

How to Use American Rescue Plan Act K-12 Education Funds to Identify and Support Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

TOP 5 WEBINARS OF 2021

1. New FAFSA Policies for Homeless and Foster Youth [Watch Here]

2. A Conversation with the CDC on School, Homelessness, and COVID-19 [Watch Here]

3. Child and Youth Homelessness and the American Rescue Plan Act [Watch Here]

4. Centering Anti-Racist Approaches in Conversations with McKinney-Vento Families and Colleagues [Watch Here]

5. Identifying and Staying in Touch with Homeless Students During the Pandemic: Learning from the Navigator Program in Nashville [Watch Here]

I have been advocating for colleges to hire MKV Liaisons in NJ as seen in other states. This webinar gave me ideas on suggesting to districts that they may want to consider hiring or tasking someone to become the person that tracks the student for the first year of college

– Diahann De Ruggiero, SEA or LEA employee NJ

Number of Webinars Held in 2021

Number of Webinar Registrants in 2021

TOP 5 GUEST BLOGS OF 2021

Five Facts Educators Need to Know About Student Homelessness – And Actions to Take

On Passing the Bar and Becoming a Lawyer

Empowering People, Impacting Change

Stabilizing Families Through a School-Centered Housing Response

Partnering with Black Community Based Organizations to Address Student Homelessness

TOP 5 Newsletters OF 2021

1. Eviction Prevention, School Discipline, Archived ARP Webinar [Learn More]

2. A Collaboration Between a School District and Community Partner to House Families [Learn More]

3. Homelessness & Pregnancy in High School + New Head Start Data [Learn More]

4. Webinars: Eviction Prevention, FAFSA Mentor Program, Policy Updates [Learn More]

5. Hidden Homelessness: A Crisis We Cannot Ignore [Learn More]

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Total Number of Newsletters Sent in 2021

Total Number of People Reached in 2021

TOP 5 Research/Publications OF 2021

Student Homelessness: Lessons from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

A Round Up of Recent Research on Child and Youth Homelessness (January-July 2021)

Warning Signs: 2019-20 Homelessness FAFSA Data Signals Impact of the Pandemic

Youth-Supportive Transitional Housing Programs As An Essential Resource for Addressing Youth Homelessness

Six Findings from Pre-Pandemic School Homelessness Data That Should Inform Reopening and Recovery

A Huge Thanks to our Funders & Donors!

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