2022 Year-in-Review

A Message from Your SchoolHouse Connection Team:

In this year of recovery, we made significant progress in helping children and youth who experience homelessness obtain the early care and education that remains their surest path out of homelessness and into opportunity.

From early childhood to postsecondary, from policy to practice, from directly supporting youth to national communications and policy work, we built on our previous achievements and laid the groundwork for more to come.

On that note, this year’s retrospective comes with something new: a sneak peek at what we’re most excited about for 2023!

Thank you for your partnership and support. We wish you the happiest of holidays and look forward to working alongside you in 2023.

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Early Childhood

Homelessness is a traumatic experience that harms young children and is associated with delays in language, literacy, and social-emotional development, putting children at risk for later academic problems. At the same time, homelessness creates barriers to accessing the high quality early learning programs that can mitigate the impact of homelessness on child development, and connect families to housing and services.

6 New Early Childhood Partners

We expanded our early childhood practical assistance, partnering with Pritzker Children’s Initiative, Head Start Region VI, the California Homeless Education Technical Assistance Center (HETAC), New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin to offer learning and strategies for increasing the enrollment of young children experiencing homelessness in high-quality early learning programs.

8 States & 212 LEAs Are Piloting The Head Start App

We refined and grew the pilot of our Head Start referral app, which aims to increase the Head Start enrollment of young children experiencing homelessness and helping to bridge early learning and K-12 systems.

Infants and Toddlers Experiencing Homelessness

Prevalence & Access to Early Learning in Twenty States
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In 2022

We published/released the first-ever state data analysis and policy recommendations on infant and toddler homelessness. Despite research showing the injurious impact of homelessness on our youngest children, there were no estimates of how many infants and toddlers experienced homelessness, or how many participated in high-quality early learning programs–until now. SHC’s ground-breaking report establishes a set of benchmarks against which to assess progress, and provides a policy and practice roadmap at the local, state, and federal levels for increasing access to life-changing high-quality early learning programs.

Erin, SHC’s Director of Education Initiatives, presented at a session at the NAEHCY conference in San Diego, California titled, “Baby Steps: Data on Infants and Toddler Experiencing Homelessness”. She is seen here with staff from Lexington District 5 in South Carolina.

Erin, SHC’s Director of Education Initiatives, conducted a two-day conference with the New Hampshire homeless education liaisons in April.


“The infant/toddler report and dashboard are such valuable tools. You, Barbara and all of SHC are doing such great work!”
— Tracy Duarte | Director, Pennsylvania Head Start Collaboration Office

Pre K-12 Education

Children and youth who experience homelessness are far less likely to complete high school than their peers, which in turn makes them 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness as young adults. Lack of a high school degree or GED is the single greatest risk factor associated with experiencing homelessness as a young adult. This vicious cycle is one of the root causes that perpetuates homelessness in the United States – a cycle that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and its associated continuing challenges for students and schools.

Progress & Promise

An Early Look at COVID Relief Funds For Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
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In 2022

We led work on the smart, strategic, and effective use of the historic $800 million appropriation for children and youth experiencing homelessness provided through the American Rescue Plan Act. Building on last year’s top advocacy accomplishment, we rolled up our sleeves to convene educators, offer tools and trainings, and collect information to help communities leverage these one-time COVID-19 resources into sustainable support for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Our report, Progress & Promise, highlights six state and thirty-one local innovative efforts to make the most of American Rescue Plan Act Homeless Children & Youth Funds (ARP-HCY) and shows the early impact of this much needed investment in the education of some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.


Published School District Spotlights


States & Districts SHC is Supporting Through Individualized Consulting Services
“I appreciate the ways you and the SchoolHouse Connection team go above & beyond to identify emerging issues & provide technical assistance along the issue lifecycles of shifts & changes among ARP-HCY & unaccompanied homeless youth.”
— Kim Pluhar | McKinney Vento Liaison, Forsyth County Schools

Higher Education

Despite increasing skepticism about the value of higher education, it remains true that pursuing education beyond high school is the most reliable and enduring way out of poverty: eighty percent of “good jobs” are held by workers with at least some postsecondary education, and in 2021, the unemployment rate of individuals with only a high school degree was nearly twice that of those with a bachelor’s degree. Higher education also appears to be a protective factor against young adult homelessness: a 2019 study shows four-year college enrollment to be nearly four times higher for young adults without experiences of homelessness in the prior 12 months than for young adults who lacked such educational attainment (52% compared to 15%).

"Working Harder Just to Be Seen and Heard"

Barriers to financial Aid for Homeless and Foster Youth
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In 2022

We successfully advocated for timely implementation of policies to remove barriers to financial aid for homeless and foster youth. SHC’s persistent advocacy helped ensure that legislative reforms to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for homeless and foster youth that were enacted in 2020 went into effect this year, and were not delayed, as initially contemplated by the U.S. Department of Education. We made the case with Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, including releasing a report demonstrating the significant impact of the pandemic on FAFSA completion for youth experiencing homelessness and youth with experience in foster care.

“A couple years ago, you helped me get financial aid as an unaccompanied homeless youth. You advocated for me and used your voice so that I could go back to school and get my degree. I’m not sure if you remember, but you played an integral role in standing up for me and representing me so that Hunter College would give me the financial aid I needed to enroll for classes. I just want to say thank you. You were at the beginning of this whole journey. I remember when you called me back, a few hours after I left you a voicemail. I didn’t think anyone was going to call me back. I remember how miserable and desperate I was and how you rescued me from that situation. I remember how you paid attention to me and my goals. And all I want to say is thank you.”
— Student who Received Support from SchoolHouse Connection

Jillian, SHC’s Senior Higher Education Program Manager, and Barbara, SHC’s Executive Director, presented on the new FAFSA provisions for homeless and foster youth at NASFAA in Austin, Texas.

The SHC team (Roshanda, Barbara, Jillian, Rodd) presented on federal and state FAFSA updates and best practices at the NAEHCY conference in San Diego, California.

 Jillian, SHC’s Senior Higher Education Program Manager, and Sarah (JBAY) presented on the first ever FAFSA/CADAA Challenge for Students Experiencing Homelessness at NAEHCY in San Diego, California.

Policy Advocacy

 To overcome homelessness through education, we must reform the systems that impact the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness. To this end, SchoolHouse Connection engages in policy advocacy at the state and federal level.

In 2022 state policy, SHC advanced bills in four states.

Other 2022 state policy highlights include:

1. Expanded SHC’s Policy Fellows Initiative

2. Established a Community of Practice in Arkansas and South Carolina

3. Presented at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Seattle and Denver

  1. We recruited volunteers from key Congressional districts in Connecticut, Indiana, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Missouri to advocate for federal policy reform. As a result of our legislative meetings, key members of Congress signed on to SHC priority bills.
  2. We established Community of Practice in both Arkansas and South Carolina to bring together stakeholders to collectively increase their capacity to serve youth experiencing homelessness, to drive needed policy reform, and increase our base of allies. As a result, a bipartisan effort is underway to introduce legislation to reform vital records laws in Arkansas in 2023.
  3. NCSL included cohorts of legislators who are interested in addressing issues related to youth experiencing homelessness and in foster care. SHC used the opportunities to network and to inform elected officials about our work and our resources. As a result, we will be collaborating with legislators in Hawaii and Arkansas on bills to address youth homelessness in 2023.

SHC Director of State Policy, Rodd Monts, delivers a presentation on advocating for youth homelessness policy reform during a roundtable event in Western Pennsylvania organized by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Network for Youth.

SHC Director of State Policy, Rodd Monts, joined legislative champions of HB 385, Rep. Kyle South and Sen. Kirk Hatcher, for the signing of the bill by Gov. Kay Ivey.

 HB 385 passed with overwhelming support.

Ashanti Jones, Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager

We were thrilled to add Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager Ashanti Jones to our team this year. She will increase our capacity to advance both state and federal policy work, and to help integrate our state and federal policy advocacy.

SHC’s Youth Policy Corps

We launched our first-ever Youth Policy Corps, a year-long program during which young people who are part of our Youth Leadership & Scholarship program receive monthly training on policy advocacy, and participate in educational activities. Scholars attend a monthly training, monthly virtual advocacy meetings, write an Op-Ed, and attend an in-person advocacy trip in Washington, DC. Youth Policy Corps participants receive a stipend for their participation.

We are proud of our 2022 federal bipartisan policy work, which includes:

1. Increased Homeless Education Funding

2. Championed Five Bills

3. Helped Homeless & Foster Youth Get Tax Refunds

  1. Led advocacy on FY2023 funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, resulting in a 13% increase over FY2022.
  2. Championed five bills to help youth experiencing homelessness or foster care succeed in higher education.
  3. Worked with federal partners to ensure that youth benefit from changes in the Earned Income Tax Credit that resulted from last year’s advocacy.

Youth Leadership & Scholarship

SHC’s Youth Leadership & Scholarship (YLS)  program provides a scholarship award, college completion resources to meet emergency needs, one-on-one help navigating college and life, and a stable peer and adult support network. Currently, 66 young people are in our YLS network; this will increase to 76 youth in January 2023. 

Other 2022 YLS Highlights:

  • In June, we hosted the 2021 and 2022 scholars for two separate five-day gatherings in Orlando. The cornerstone of the gatherings – the awards ceremony – was held in partnership with the McKinney-Vento program of Orange County Public Schools.
  • In July, we brought together the 2019 and 2020 cohorts for two separate five-day summits in Washington, DC. Scholars participated in two advocacy meetings during each trip.
  • We hosted monthly zoom learning opportunities for scholars on a variety of relevant topics including self-care, healthy relationships, and how to fill out the FAFSA.
  • We hosted monthly virtual chat opportunities for all scholar cohorts where they could build rapport with each other and staff.

Roshanda Pinson, Program Manager, Youth Leadership & Scholarships

The YLS program on-boarded Roshanda Pinson, MSW as a program manager to assist with case management services, which allows for more in-depth services across the board.

“Getting to meet with staff at USICH and the Department of Education was an experience I’ll never forget. Resources are nothing without a support system AND accurate representation across the board, which is a table that I can always count on SHC being the first at. SHC has helped instill a new sense of respect in myself. They give us so many opportunities, even being “fun”, giving us opportunities to speak on things that we’ve been silenced on for years. I do believe that they are a voice of the youth, if not one that projects our voices. I am so forever thankful for the friends who have slowly become my family and for all of the opportunities SHC has given us.”
— Tara, 2019 Scholar
“You never feel alone when you’re among those who’ve experienced what you have in a way. For me personally I have found a home through SHC despite not having an actual home. The memories you’ll hold onto forever, the friendships you never expected to make, the lessons you’ll learn, and the path you choose to walk and grow, are all a part of being a SHC scholar.”
— Carlos, 2020 Scholar

Young and Homeless in Rural America

Most social services come through the schools — but it can be impossible to get to them. – The New York Times

A One-Woman Rescue Squad for Homeless Students

The work of Norma Mercado, a Texas school system’s point person for dealing with homeless young people, is benefiting from a big but temporary surge in federal funding. – The New York Times

Growing Public Awareness and Making the Case

Child and youth homelessness is largely hidden from sight – from the public, and from the practitioners and policymakers who are best positioned to help. The early care and education challenges created by homelessness are also obscured, contributing to a failure to prioritize the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness and to support solutions. SchoolHouse Connection actively works to increase the visibility of child and youth homelessness and the role of early care and education in helping permanently break cycles of homelessness.

SHC appeared in 57 media stories

In 2022:

  • Our work was cited and/or we were quoted in more than 40 stories, including the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Chicago Tribune, Education Week, Chalkbeat, K12 Dive, Hechinger Report,  Inside Higher Education, and Center for Public Integrity.
  • We launched “Hidden Homelessness: Youth Voices,” a youth storytelling series that highlights the often overlooked and unseen experiences that define child and youth homelessness. Five SHC youth scholars wrote powerful essays about their personal and particular experiences of homelessness and the importance of education and caring professionals in their lives.

Top of the Tops: The Year According to User Analytics

SNEAK PEEK: What We’re Looking Forward to in 2023

Child and Youth Homelessness Data Profiles

In January, SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan will publish comprehensive data profiles on child and youth homelessness, searchable at national, state, and local levels. We’ll save the most exciting part until next month, but suffice it to say the data profiles will compile information in new ways that make it easier to educate decision makers at all levels.

Deep Dive in Five States on Infant and Toddler Homelessness

Following the release of our report on infant and toddler homelessness this year, we’ll be working with a set of states to provide strategic assistance and establish actionable goals, and to provide practical assistance to several communities within those states to help increase outreach, identification, and enrollment of families, infants, and toddlers experiencing homelessness.

McKinney-Vento Online Training Series for School Personnel

In the first quarter of 2023, we’ll launch our comprehensive online training modules to help ensure educational access and success for children and youth experiencing homelessness, and support school districts and charter schools in meeting federal professional development requirements.

Learning Network for Higher Education Liaisons

Many institutions of higher education are designating liaisons for students experiencing homelessness. Similar to their counterparts in K-12 education, homeless higher education liaisons support students by connecting them to available resources on and off-campus, and removing barriers to their college retention and success. In 2023, SHC will launch a learning network for higher education liaisons to help them implement state and federal policies, bridge the gap between K12 homeless liaisons and higher education, and identify best practices and barriers for identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness.

A Huge Thanks to Our Funders & Partners