American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY)

In the wake of the pandemic – and in the midst of the current housing, addiction, and mental health crises – schools and communities face unprecedented challenges. While often hidden, homelessness among children and youth is a significant factor contributing to declines in school enrollment, chronic absence, and student mental health struggles.

American Rescue Plan — Homeless Children and Youth, or ARP-HCY funds, are one-time funds that can help meet this moment. ARP-HCY funds are uniquely flexible funds to support the identification, enrollment, and school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness, including through wrap-around services. They must be obligated by September 30, 2024 and spent by January 31, 2025.

SchoolHouse Connection has compiled resources below to help state and local educational agencies make the most of this historic opportunity to serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable students. We also encourage you to read specific examples of innovation, please see our spotlights below.

Join the SHC Community on Slack!

We’re thrilled to invite you to join our SchoolHouse Connection Community on Slack! Slack is an amazing platform where you can collaborate, share resources, and get inspired – all dedicated to our shared mission of overcoming homelessness through education.

👉 In SchoolHouse Connection’s recent national survey of school district homeless liaisons, nearly 40% of respondents said that getting examples and tools from other LEAs that have been able to spend ARP-HCY funds to meet needs would be helpful to their local efforts. SHC’s Slack Community is designed to help promote exactly this kind of sharing!

ARP-HCY Resources

This tab contains examples of forms, agreements, and other resources that support the use of ARP-HCY funds for students experiencing homelessness. SchoolHouse Connection is very grateful to the school districts and agencies who have agreed to share these adaptable, “plug and play” resources with their peers. Being listed on this page does not imply endorsement of a particular vendor. If you have a sample form, agreement, or other resource you’d be willing to share, please email info@schoolhouseconnection.org.

Sample forms for Store Cards

Sample forms for Gas Cards

Sample MOUs/Agreements for Motels

Sample MOUs/Agreements with Community Based Organizations

Sample Forms for Transition from High School to Postsecondary

Sample Forms for Early Childhood

Sample Forms for Wraparound Services

In Washington Court House City Schools, mentors utilize Google Sheets to effectively monitor their mentees’ needs, along with their families.’ These sheets record various aspects such as goals, attendance, grades, and communications with parents or guardians. Additionally, the McKinney-Vento liaison uses them to keep track of referrals to community partners. In cases where a family has multiple students, all mentors can access a single sheet for that family, enabling seamless collaboration between mentors and the liaison in supporting the whole family. This tracking method is pivotal in evaluating the outcomes and success of the mentoring program.

Reduce Chronic Absence by Focusing on Homeless Students

More than half (52%) of students experiencing homelessness were chronically absent during the 2021-2022 school year. Students experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to school attendance, including frequent moves that make transportation difficult, lack of basic needs like clothes and hygiene products, and more.

American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds offer an opportunity to reduce chronic absenteeism by providing better transportation options, more staff capacity, and other supports that impact attendance.

Strategies that have been effective in supporting the attendance of students experiencing homelessness: 

  • Train attendance staff to proactively and sensitively ask about housing stability when following up on attendance issues.
  • Implement attendance monitoring and early warning systems that are specifically and intentionally inclusive of, and responsive to, students experiencing homelessness.
  • Provide flexible transportation supports.
  • Help students experiencing homelessness meet their basic needs, such as laundry, clothing, and hygiene.
  • Dedicate staff time to maintaining contact and communications with families, including through cell phones and home visits. 

Capacity Building & Staffing
Academic Support
Early Childhood
Housing-Related Supports
Outreach & Identification
Prepaid Debit & Store Cards
Transportation
Wrap-around Services

Washington Court House City Schools, Ohio

Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) have had strong processes for identifying students experiencing homelessness over the years. However, as the district began to look at which students were identified, WCHCS realized that communication barriers greatly impacted the district’s ability to offer additional support and resources to families experiencing homelessness.  Many of these families did not have access to technology, were not willing to share their circumstances or did not respond at all to efforts to offer help. 

As a result, WCHCS decided to write a McKinney-Vento subgrant application, which ultimately wasn’t funded but led to receiving ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds. With the awarding of these funds, the district began a mentorship program for their students experiencing homelessness. The goal was for the mentor to be the bridge between the district and families so resources and support could flow to students and families experiencing homelessness.  In the beginning, certified staff were tapped to fill the role of mentors, but as the program has grown, all full-time staff are now able to participate after attending training. 

Once a student is identified under McKinney-Vento, the WCHCS liaison/social worker reaches out to the parent or guardian, as well as staff in the building where the student attends. Upon parent approval, a mentor is then paired with the identified student, meeting with the student a minimum of twice per month for a minimum of 30 minutes. All mentor-mentee meetings occur during the school day in order to avoid additional burdens outside of school hours for these families.  The mentors use their personal time for these meetings.  In fact, many mentors choose to spend lunch with their mentee at least one time per week. Mentors are also required to be in contact with the parent or guardian at least one time per month. Mentors receive a stipend, funded by ARP-HCY, for taking on this role. 

In order to track the program to show outcomes and success, the McKinney-Vento Coordinator uses Google sheets.  One sheet is used to track the whole program, but individual spreadsheets are created for every family and are monitored by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker. Mentors use the Google sheet to log contacts with their mentee, including goals, attendance, and grades. In addition, mentors log all contact with the parent/guardian, tracking needs that the family has and referrals that are made by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker to community partners. If there is more than one student per family, all mentors have access to the sheet for the entire family so that mentors can collaborate with other mentors to support the whole family. 

The mentorship program has led to a significant increase in the identification of students.  In fact, the number of students experiencing homelessness that have been identified have increased from an average of 65 last year to over 100 this year.  Because families now have stronger connections to school through the mentorship program, they are sharing with other families through word of mouth.  This enables school staff to connect with other families who are experiencing homelessness and needing support. Because the district has strong community partnerships, the district is able to meet non-academic needs that families have that are often shared through the mentor-mentee relationships. In addition, the district has sought feedback from parents and students on the success of the program and 100% of families and students have expressed how much they love the mentorship program; families and staff have all expressed that it’s been rewarding and impactful.

In addition to the mentorship program, WCHCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to provide tutoring and wraparound services. From the data collected during the first year of the mentorship program, staff noticed a trend that many of the district’s students experiencing homelessness struggled with behavior concerns.  With ARP-HCY funds, the district hired a McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician, who is trained by the district Prevention Coordinator. The district Prevention Coordinator, who is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), goes into classrooms, assesses what interventions the student would benefit from, and then the McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician implements the interventions with students experiencing homelessness. This has allowed WCHCS to better support students with behavior struggles due to the trauma they’ve experienced, as well as to model interactions and communication strategies.

As WCHCS plans for sustainability after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available, the district will apply for McKinney-Vento subgrant funds.  In the event that subgrant funds are not awarded, mentors for the program will be on a volunteer basis.  The Behavior Technician position will not be cut but will likely be absorbed by another position.  The district hopes to gather enough data to make a case to continue to fund this position by other means. 

“Our district is located in a rural city that is very generous and supportive of community members in need.  Making connections between resources and families was a struggle previously due to not knowing what our families experiencing homelessness needed.  The mentor program not only benefits individual students, but overall we are able to connect families to resources more efficiently. Thanks to these funds, we’ve been able to create a program so that families can feel connected and more open to sharing their needs. This has had a huge impact on our students, our school community and on identification.”

-Laura McNamara, Student Services Coordinator and McKinney-Vento Coordinator

Lawton Public Schools, Oklahoma

Lawton Public Schools (LPS) are using ARP-HCY funds to meet both immediate needs and to engage students in learning. Working with the IT Director, the district secured contracts with Verizon to provide cell phones to unaccompanied homeless youth. So far, LPS has distributed one cell phone that is not only serving to support the youth’s communication with school, but has also served to boost this student’s self-confidence as technology access now mirrors that of the youth’s peers. LPS asked the youth to sign an agreement at the time of distribution, agreeing to answer when school calls, and agreeing to revisit the contract during the summer if the student enrolls in summer school and is employed. In addition, district technology staff met with the student to review how to use the phone and to talk about social media use. 

In addition, transportation remains a barrier for students experiencing homelessness at LPS. There have been challenges with gaps of time between transportation requests and when transportation begins. LPS has traveling counselors who were providing transportation during this interim time, but it is often unreliable depending on counselor schedules. Because of this, ARP-HCY funds were used to purchase a vehicle. The vehicle will also be used for virtual students to access school services. It will also be used for home visits to students and families and to transport students to needed health services. 

LPS currently funds two part-time mentors and a McKinney-Vento Administrative Assistant out of the Title I, Part A homeless reservation.The mentors are retired coaches who support students experiencing homelessness by checking in with them, checking on attendance and grades, and providing additional support. With ARP-HCY funds, LPS was able to hire a retired educator to serve as a mentor in the middle school. In addition to this staff member, LPS hired a McKinney-Vento Outreach Specialist. The Outreach Specialist is a social worker who is focusing on supporting students experiencing homelessness in the district’s virtual program. The Outreach Specialist not only checks in on students and supports their academic engagement, but also can follow up with students who are not yet identified. Doing home visits to these students, the Outreach Specialist is able to identify new students or refer those who are not experiencing homelessness to other school staff for support. 

LPS is currently brainstorming ways to support students experiencing homelessness in preschool. The vision is to not only support young learners, but also provide education and training for families so that learning can continue no matter what the family’s living situation. 

“Whatever you thought you couldn’t do, now is the time to do it with these funds. We’ve not been able to support our students in these ways until now.”

-Andrea Winstead, Title I/IX Facilitator

Pinellas County Schools, Florida

As of the end of November 2022, Pinellas County Schools (PCS) had 3, 062 students identified, approximately 6% of their student population. After receiving $1.9 million in ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds, PCS prioritized providing wraparound services and housing-related supports, staffing, and transportation to support the district’s students experiencing homelessness. The majority of the funds were dedicated to supporting housing partnerships.

With a collaborative contract already in place between the city of St. Petersburg, PCS, and other community partners, the district was able to expand this cooperative agreement to support housing for families using ARP-HCY funds. The community organization, Directions for Living, provides programs to get families into shelter and housing. Prior to ARP-HCY, this program collaboration was specific to students and families at the highest need schools with the highest numbers of students experiencing homelessness. Because of ARP-HCY funds, this contract was expanded to include any family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. McKinney-Vento points of contact in each building can refer any family to this program. With just over $1 million in ARP-HCY funds going toward this housing collaboration, additional case managers were hired to support families not only get into housing, but also to support those at risk of homelessness by advocating with landlords and helping remove past evictions from rental histories, and place families in motels temporarily. This housing program can serve up to 90 families in a school year, and PCS has already referred more than 90 families to this program. The case managers work to remove barriers to the resources and supports that exist within the county.

In addition, PCS has used ARP-HCY funds to support a partnership with a community organization, Clothes for Kids, that provides uniforms to students. Prior to this partnership, PCS was using district funds to buy uniforms for students on an as needed basis; however, with ARP-HCY and Title IX funds, PCS is able to partner with Clothes for Kids so families can go to this organization to shop for uniforms and clean clothes for a week at a time, removing this barrier for students to attend school.

PCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to expand a collaboration with the community program Starting Right Now. This program serves unaccompanied homeless youth, providing housing, mentors and life skills to support students through high school and graduation, postsecondary planning, and continuing to support them through their higher education. District points of contact can refer unaccompanied homeless youth to this program, and ARP-HCY funds COVID health and hygiene protocols for referred students.

Using approximately $500,000, ARP-HCY funds made it possible to expand the district’s existing contract with Ever Driven Transportation, a private rideshare with vetted drivers for school of origin transportation. With the additional transportation option, attendance and stability have increased, most notably for students at the secondary level.

Finally, ARP-HCY funds were used to hire an additional staff member who will take over as homeless liaison in December of 2023. The liaison position is currently funded through the Title I, Part A homeless reservation, so funding for this position will shift from ARP-HCY to Title I, Part A when funds are no longer available.

PCS is carefully tracking data on these partnerships and initiatives, with the goal that community partners will step up to fund these once ARP-HCY funds are no longer available. Because the data shows the efficacy of the work, community partners will be able to see how their funding can be used in tandem with PCS funds. This includes other available grant application opportunities, expanding existing district contracts, and shifting district funds to best meet needs. The district prioritizes networking with community partners to show the successes of the collaborations and the need for further partnership and funding.

“We are visible in the community, reminding our community partners of McKinney-Vento so that our housing partners can also be McKinney-Vento advocates. We connect families to these partners who are experts at moving families into housing because our expertise is education. We’ve built a successful model of partnerships with our housing providers, and it’s been the best way to use ARP-HCY funds to support our families.”
-Dr. Christine Cantrell, Student and Community Support Services Homeless Liaison

Monte del Sol Charter School, New Mexico

Monte del Sol Charter School serves approximately 360 total students, with a large population of immigrant students, primarily Spanish-speaking, in grades 7-12. The number of students experiencing homelessness has increased in the last seven years from one student to 45 so far this year (mid-May) and many are immigrants. The part-time homeless liaison has worked hard to build relationships with families over the last seven years, providing a food bank as a way to meet needs and establish trust. As the liaison has gotten to know families over the years, it became evident that the school needed a fully bilingual staff member to support communication with families experiencing homelessness.

The homeless liaison was already working with the city to support families in accessing rental assistance through systems navigation. As the application process for rental assistance has become more cumbersome, immigrant families experiencing homelessness needed someone to help navigate the application in their native language. With ARP-HCY funds, the homeless liaison created a part-time Bilingual Benefits Navigator position to meet this need. The school hired a Navigator who was already a staff member and already had strong relationships with families and the community.

The Bilingual Benefits Navigator has lived experience that helps build connections and trust with families. The Navigator is primarily working on housing navigation, helping families apply for state rental and utility assistance with federal relief funds. However, the position has flexible hours and is able to support families in other ways, such as helping a mom and daughter navigate shopping for basic needs like clothing. In addition, the Navigator assists with identification of students because of the relationships that have been established. Families trust her with information about their living situations that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with others. The Navigator is also a support person for pregnant and parenting teens on campus, again drawing from her own lived experience. The Navigator is savvy in knowing how to help families with significant needs and has been critical in the school’s work with children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are also Spanish-speaking. The success of this position has been significant and the school anticipates writing future grants, including an EHCY subgrant, to sustain this position.

“Our school serves mostly immigrant families, including many established families who have relatives from Mexico move in and double up due to financial hardship. The continuity with families helps us to identify and support those who are experiencing homelessness. Families come into our school and I already have a history with them. With this Navigator position, we are able to serve our families in a caring and empathic way in their language.”

-Cate Moses, Homeless Education Liaison

Richland County School District One, South Carolina

Richland County School District One is using ARP-HCY funds to increase the capacity of their McKinney-Vento program for the first time. The district has created two positions to support the work of the long-time homeless liaison. The first position funded with ARP-HCY will be an administrative assistant to support the overall work of the program. The second position is a case manager position who will focus on outreach and identification, as well as systems navigation, supporting the work of the liaison, and continuing to build up the program.  Richland One has lost students because of the pandemic and overall numbers are down. However, increasing staff capacity with ARP-HCY funds provides the opportunity to be intentional and deliberate in finding and supporting these students. 

In addition to adding staff members, Richland One will use ARP-HCY funds to support the work of a new partnership with the NAACP. Through a fellowship with law students from the University of South Carolina, the NAACP will provide clinics around the district to connect families with housing navigators and legal resources. The NAACP will provide trained housing navigators to walk families through housing issues ranging from eviction to tenant-landlord issues. Families will benefit from the pro-bono legal expertise provided, as well as the comprehensive connections to community resources. ARP-HCY funds will pay for school staff time to be available during the clinics, but the clinics themselves will not require funding, making this housing resource sustainable into the future. 

“I am excited because for the first time we are able to help with capacity which is a huge need in our district. I’m excited about the wonderful footprint this work will leave.”

-Deborah C. Boone, McKinney-Vento/PASS Coordinator

Roanoke City Schools, Virginia

The Roanoke City Schools McKinney-Vento Program Coordinator is using ARP-HCY funds to increase program staff capacity. In addition to the coordinator, the program has employed a part-time staff person to provide support. Using ARP-HCY funds, the part-time position has become a full-time Outreach Specialist position to support the work of receiving referrals and determining eligibility of students. ARP-HCY funds also have been used to hire a part-time Family Outreach Specialist position to manage and distribute community donations to students and families, as well as supporting the LEAs work on chronic absenteeism with students experiencing homelessness.

Another focus of Roanoke’s ARP-HCY funding is to support unaccompanied homeless youth. Roanoke City Schools is using funds to support their “Senior Shine and Dine” event to celebrate the graduation and success of seniors identified as experiencing homleessness. ARP-HCY funds are paying for iPad purchases for seniors to work on college applications, FAFSA applications, and other postsecondary planning and transitions. The Program Coordinator is in the process of developing an additional program for seniors that will focus on independent living skills to provide tools for youth in the next stage of their college or career journey. ARP-HCY funds will pay for a school counselor to support the program outside of regular contract hours.

In addition, ARP-HCY funds have made it possible for Roanoke City Schools to hire a part-time licensed clinical social worker to support the creation of the aforementioned independent living skills program. The social worker will provide regular support and professional development to staff who experience secondary trauma from supporting McKinney-Vento students in crisis. The LEA has seen an increase in domestic violence situations as a result of the pandemic, so the social worker also will provide support to conduct an initial assessment of the family and student’s situation, as well as help accessing community organizations to support survivors of domestic violence.

The Program Coordinator will collect data on these initiatives, evaluate their effectiveness, and explore additional funding to sustain them.

“It’s too bad the additional funding is the result of a pandemic, but it’s bringing awareness to all the things we aren’t getting support for, especially with unaccompanied homeless youth. With ARP-HCY funds, I’m finally getting to try things that I’ve always wanted to do during my 19 years as the homeless liaison.”
-Malora Horn, Roanoke City Schools McKinney-Vento Program Coordinator

Minneapolis Public Schools, Minnesota

To better understand how their ARP-HCY funds should be spent, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) developed a survey that was sent to students and parents experiencing homelessness, along with staff and community partners. Using current and past identified student information, MPS was able to use mini-grant funds received from Education Leads Home to provide gift cards for completing the survey, reaching over 200 unique students and parents of students experiencing homelessness. By asking questions about barriers, as well as what has helped students and families in the past, MPS identified three key areas to invest their ARP-HCY funds: transportation, basic needs, and mental health. They have matched those needs with ARP-HCY funds and taken steps toward hiring a transportation scheduler, bringing on a summer social worker focused on mental health needs of students experiencing homelessness, and partnering with the local housing authority to provide wrap-around support for accessing housing vouchers. To learn more about the survey and the other ways in which MPS plans to use ARP HCY funds, view this short presentation.

“Some families (33%) felt like there was no one at the school who provided support for their student experiencing homelessness, and that was a really big thing for us to see and realize through this survey.”
– Melissa Winship, Minneapolis Public Schools

Washington Court House City Schools, Ohio

Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) have had strong processes for identifying students experiencing homelessness over the years. However, as the district began to look at which students were identified, WCHCS realized that communication barriers greatly impacted the district’s ability to offer additional support and resources to families experiencing homelessness.  Many of these families did not have access to technology, were not willing to share their circumstances or did not respond at all to efforts to offer help. 

As a result, WCHCS decided to write a McKinney-Vento subgrant application, which ultimately wasn’t funded but led to receiving ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds. With the awarding of these funds, the district began a mentorship program for their students experiencing homelessness. The goal was for the mentor to be the bridge between the district and families so resources and support could flow to students and families experiencing homelessness.  In the beginning, certified staff were tapped to fill the role of mentors, but as the program has grown, all full-time staff are now able to participate after attending training. 

Once a student is identified under McKinney-Vento, the WCHCS liaison/social worker reaches out to the parent or guardian, as well as staff in the building where the student attends. Upon parent approval, a mentor is then paired with the identified student, meeting with the student a minimum of twice per month for a minimum of 30 minutes. All mentor-mentee meetings occur during the school day in order to avoid additional burdens outside of school hours for these families.  The mentors use their personal time for these meetings.  In fact, many mentors choose to spend lunch with their mentee at least one time per week. Mentors are also required to be in contact with the parent or guardian at least one time per month. Mentors receive a stipend, funded by ARP-HCY, for taking on this role. 

In order to track the program to show outcomes and success, the McKinney-Vento Coordinator uses Google sheets.  One sheet is used to track the whole program, but individual spreadsheets are created for every family and are monitored by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker. Mentors use the Google sheet to log contacts with their mentee, including goals, attendance, and grades. In addition, mentors log all contact with the parent/guardian, tracking needs that the family has and referrals that are made by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker to community partners. If there is more than one student per family, all mentors have access to the sheet for the entire family so that mentors can collaborate with other mentors to support the whole family. 

The mentorship program has led to a significant increase in the identification of students.  In fact, the number of students experiencing homelessness that have been identified have increased from an average of 65 last year to over 100 this year.  Because families now have stronger connections to school through the mentorship program, they are sharing with other families through word of mouth.  This enables school staff to connect with other families who are experiencing homelessness and needing support. Because the district has strong community partnerships, the district is able to meet non-academic needs that families have that are often shared through the mentor-mentee relationships. In addition, the district has sought feedback from parents and students on the success of the program and 100% of families and students have expressed how much they love the mentorship program; families and staff have all expressed that it’s been rewarding and impactful.

In addition to the mentorship program, WCHCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to provide tutoring and wraparound services. From the data collected during the first year of the mentorship program, staff noticed a trend that many of the district’s students experiencing homelessness struggled with behavior concerns.  With ARP-HCY funds, the district hired a McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician, who is trained by the district Prevention Coordinator. The district Prevention Coordinator, who is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), goes into classrooms, assesses what interventions the student would benefit from, and then the McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician implements the interventions with students experiencing homelessness. This has allowed WCHCS to better support students with behavior struggles due to the trauma they’ve experienced, as well as to model interactions and communication strategies.

As WCHCS plans for sustainability after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available, the district will apply for McKinney-Vento subgrant funds.  In the event that subgrant funds are not awarded, mentors for the program will be on a volunteer basis.  The Behavior Technician position will not be cut but will likely be absorbed by another position.  The district hopes to gather enough data to make a case to continue to fund this position by other means. 

“Our district is located in a rural city that is very generous and supportive of community members in need.  Making connections between resources and families was a struggle previously due to not knowing what our families experiencing homelessness needed.  The mentor program not only benefits individual students, but overall we are able to connect families to resources more efficiently. Thanks to these funds, we’ve been able to create a program so that families can feel connected and more open to sharing their needs. This has had a huge impact on our students, our school community and on identification.”

-Laura McNamara, Student Services Coordinator and McKinney-Vento Coordinator

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, California

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools decided to use their ARP-HCY Part I funds to prioritize youth empowerment and countywide mentoring. They hired formerly homeless youth as “Peer Support Associates” to meet with youth, educators, and community countywide. Peer Support Associates share their stories in order to empower youth to advocate for themselves and to encourage youth to not let their current circumstances define their future. They also inspire stakeholders to support and serve children and youth experiencing homelessness, and help educate teachers, school staff and community on the importance of one caring adult, building trust, and understanding homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act. The Peer Support Associate positions are funded for two years.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools also braided ARP-HCY Part I funds with state and district funds to contract with school-based mentors who have lived experiences and relate to youth. Mentors support junior high, high schools and county community schools to provide once-a-month on-campus mentoring, inclusive of mental wellness, life skills, healthy relationships, academic support, and postsecondary planning support.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools also received a smaller amount of ARP-HCY Part II funds, which were used for a county-wide back-to-school event in partnership with faith-based organizations, the district attorney, probation, local assembly member, and other community agencies. Through this collective impact event, over 11,000 backpacks with school supplies were distributed to three different regions of the county. San Bernardino County encompasses over 20,000 square miles of rural , urban, and suburban regions.

San Bernardino County will gather data to show the importance and impact of school-based mentoring, Peer Support Associates, and how one caring adult can make a difference in the lives of the students that we serve. Together with the anecdotal information from youth, San Bernardino County will show the need to implement and support programs like these in the future, in the hopes that educational systems will prioritize securing funding to continue empowering our youth.

“The funding is good, but temporary. What do we do after? It is important that we are intentional with these funds to maximize our efforts and resources to meet the needs of children and youth. In the end, our goal is to inspire all children and youth, and empower them to use their voice.”
-Brenda Dowdy, Homeless Education Project Manager

Columbus City Schools, Ohio

In the 2021-2022 school year, Columbus City Schools (CCS) identified 2,498 students experiencing homelessness, 582 of these students in grades 9-12. During this same school year, CCS used ARP-HCY funds to offer extended work hours for an in-house school counselor to conduct a transcript audit for all McKinney-Vento identified youth in grades 9-12. The audit reviewed how many credit hours students had in each area to determine if students were on-track toward advancing grade levels and toward graduation. The audit found that some students did not have the credit hours needed and/or may have been placed in courses that weren’t needed for their academic progress.

In the 2022-2023 school year, CCS expanded the model using braided funding from ARP-HCY and ESSER to hire two positions to advance this work. CCS is in the process of hiring an Academic Transitional Support Specialist, to do similar transcript audit work that the counselor did last year. This position will have a deep understanding of grades, transcripts and credit hours, and the Specialist will advocate with teachers and school-based counselors to support identified students to be appropriately placed in classes. The Specialist will focus on detailed transcript audits for 9-12th grade students, which will not only help juniors and seniors to remain on-track toward graduation, but also set 9th and 10th grade students up for success right from the beginning of their high school careers. Transcript audit information will be shared with staff so that they have student profiles and can advocate and support students with what they need.

With this combination of ARP-HCY and ESSER funding, a Business Project Manager was hired and is focusing on digging into the data to help identify service gaps and the team to determine what interventions might be needed. For example, this position will provide critical real-time data on transportation usage – giving administration the necessary information to make data-driven decisions on whether sending a bus or a private transportation service is effective to get students to school. This is important work since transportation affects attendance and attendance is predictive of academic outcomes. The position will also look at how students are matriculating from grade level to grade level. Using three major indicators – graduation rates, attendance, and identification – CCS can then look at what systems are already in place in the district, as well as what additional supports and structures will help move the needle on student outcomes.

Columbus City Schools will gather data throughout this work, with plans to show the data to the district as a means to fund the positions after ARP-HCY funding is no longer available.

“COVID wasn’t friendly to anyone, but it gave me the dollars to do this work – to shift our focus from basic needs to the spirit of the law which is academic. It’s not enough to provide school supplies and transportation if students aren’t matriculating to the next grade and graduating.”
-Felisha Lyons, Executive Director of Student Services

Durham Public Schools, North Carolina

Durham Public Schools utilizes multiple funding sources to provide extensive supports and services to their students experiencing homelessness. Using Title I, Part A funds, the LEA pays for the homeless liaison salary, as well as a McKinney-Vento social worker to identify and support students which, pre-pandemic, numbered over 1,000. Title I, Part A funds also support salaries and transportation for the LEA’s tutoring program for identified students. Durham Public Schools also receive McKinney-Vento subgrant funds, which are used to provide tutoring and summer camp programming. 

With the LEA’s ARP-HCY funds, the LEA is prioritizing their focus on high school students. Unaccompanied homeless youth will have access to academic tutoring, ACT and SAT prep, FAFSA, and college essay writing support. The LEA is using funds to hire a youth case manager to intentionally meet the needs of these youth. Unaccompanied youth will also have access to two years of mental health support through the district.

In addition, the LEA is expanding tutoring at the elementary and middle school levels, bringing tutors into the buildings with the highest need to ensure direct access.

Durham currently has one shelter that youth over 18 can access. The LEA is using ARP-HCY funds to create a study space at the shelter to support re-engagement of youth and access to educational programming.  

“I’m excited because if it had not been for ARP-HCY funding, there is a lot we wouldn’t be able to do!”
– Ebony Ross, Homeless Liaison

School District of Janesville, Wisconsin

The School District of Janesville plans to use ARP-HCY funds to hire a part-time tutor to support the academic success of children and youth in House of Mercy and YWCA Domestic Violence Shelters. The district’s Families in Transition Coordinator sought the feedback of shelter partners to support the academic success of children and youth in their care. Through the collaboration with shelter directors, it was determined that students struggle to understand and complete homework, and often do not have support from the adults in their lives, who may be working, lack content knowledge, or are under too much stress. The tutor will work with students in the shelters weekday evenings, and in the afternoons during the summer following district summer programming.​ ​The Families in Transition Coordinator will also use funds to purchase curricula to support tutoring. The district intends to hire the tutor this spring, and fund the position until at least 2024. The district will consider applying for McKinney-Vento subgrant funds to sustain the position after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available, while continuing to use Title I, Part A Homeless Reservation funds to pay the salary of the Families in Transition Coordinator who leads the district’s efforts to support children and youth experiencing homelessness.

“The ARP-HCY funding has allowed our school district to take a proactive approach to help students experiencing homelessness feel confident in their ability to succeed in school. By helping children take an active role in their life, it will give them the confidence to overcome helplessness.”
– Carrie Kulinski, Families in Transition Coordinator

EdAdvance, Torrington, Connecticut

EdAdvance is one of Connecticut’s six Regional Educational Service Centers, and serves Western Connecticut. EdAdvance is using ARP-HCY funds to increase staffing capacity. It will be hiring a part-time case manager, who will focus on outreach to youth experiencing homelessness, and will provide assistance to families experiencing homelessness seeking affordable housing. EdAdvance also will be hiring an early childhood specialist to do community outreach and enroll young children experiencing homelessness in school, early intervention programs, and other early childhood programs. This addresses needs determined in visits to domestic violence shelters and the local home- visiting program, which revealed increased numbers of young children experiencing homelessness. In addition to these positions, EdAdvance will be hiring a part-time van driver to help meet the growing transportation needs of McKinney-Vento students, starting in the fall. EdAdvance also used ARP-HCY funds to install WiFi routers in nearby shelters, as it was discovered that regular school-provided hotspots were not sufficient to meet the connectivity needs of families in shelters. ARP-HCY will also continue to be used to provide other services, such as emergency hotel stays, gas cards, camperships, and tutoring for students.

“Having additional ARP-HCY funds has been a gift to actually have resources at the ready for plans and the ability to make change with McKinney-Vento families by investing in staff to enhance outreach and support.”- Michelle Anderson, Director of Early Childhood and Family Programs

Pinellas County Schools, Florida

As of the end of November 2022, Pinellas County Schools (PCS) had 3, 062 students identified, approximately 6% of their student population. After receiving $1.9 million in ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds, PCS prioritized providing wraparound services and housing-related supports, staffing, and transportation to support the district’s students experiencing homelessness. The majority of the funds were dedicated to supporting housing partnerships.

With a collaborative contract already in place between the city of St. Petersburg, PCS, and other community partners, the district was able to expand this cooperative agreement to support housing for families using ARP-HCY funds. The community organization, Directions for Living, provides programs to get families into shelter and housing. Prior to ARP-HCY, this program collaboration was specific to students and families at the highest need schools with the highest numbers of students experiencing homelessness. Because of ARP-HCY funds, this contract was expanded to include any family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. McKinney-Vento points of contact in each building can refer any family to this program. With just over $1 million in ARP-HCY funds going toward this housing collaboration, additional case managers were hired to support families not only get into housing, but also to support those at risk of homelessness by advocating with landlords and helping remove past evictions from rental histories, and place families in motels temporarily. This housing program can serve up to 90 families in a school year, and PCS has already referred more than 90 families to this program. The case managers work to remove barriers to the resources and supports that exist within the county.

In addition, PCS has used ARP-HCY funds to support a partnership with a community organization, Clothes for Kids, that provides uniforms to students. Prior to this partnership, PCS was using district funds to buy uniforms for students on an as needed basis; however, with ARP-HCY and Title IX funds, PCS is able to partner with Clothes for Kids so families can go to this organization to shop for uniforms and clean clothes for a week at a time, removing this barrier for students to attend school.

PCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to expand a collaboration with the community program Starting Right Now. This program serves unaccompanied homeless youth, providing housing, mentors and life skills to support students through high school and graduation, postsecondary planning, and continuing to support them through their higher education. District points of contact can refer unaccompanied homeless youth to this program, and ARP-HCY funds COVID health and hygiene protocols for referred students.

Using approximately $500,000, ARP-HCY funds made it possible to expand the district’s existing contract with Ever Driven Transportation, a private rideshare with vetted drivers for school of origin transportation. With the additional transportation option, attendance and stability have increased, most notably for students at the secondary level.

Finally, ARP-HCY funds were used to hire an additional staff member who will take over as homeless liaison in December of 2023. The liaison position is currently funded through the Title I, Part A homeless reservation, so funding for this position will shift from ARP-HCY to Title I, Part A when funds are no longer available.

PCS is carefully tracking data on these partnerships and initiatives, with the goal that community partners will step up to fund these once ARP-HCY funds are no longer available. Because the data shows the efficacy of the work, community partners will be able to see how their funding can be used in tandem with PCS funds. This includes other available grant application opportunities, expanding existing district contracts, and shifting district funds to best meet needs. The district prioritizes networking with community partners to show the successes of the collaborations and the need for further partnership and funding.

“We are visible in the community, reminding our community partners of McKinney-Vento so that our housing partners can also be McKinney-Vento advocates. We connect families to these partners who are experts at moving families into housing because our expertise is education. We’ve built a successful model of partnerships with our housing providers, and it’s been the best way to use ARP-HCY funds to support our families.”
-Dr. Christine Cantrell, Student and Community Support Services Homeless Liaison

Boston Public Schools

Without knowing how it would come to fruition, Boston Public Schools (BPS) began to lay the groundwork to begin housing partnerships approximately one year before ARP-HCY funds became available. The combination of ARP-HCY and ESSER funds provided an opportunity for BPS to initiate a unique partnership with the Boston Housing Authority and FamilyAid Boston. BPS contracts with FamilyAid Boston, a community-based organization, to provide housing navigation, case management, and housing vouchers to complement federal HUD and private donor funding. The housing vouchers are provided through a combination of public and private funding that does not supplant existing resources. 

FamilyAid used the ARP-HCY funds made available through the school district to increase their case management capacity. Case managers provide housing navigation to walk families through the process of preparing housing applications, searching for housing, and signing a lease. In addition, wraparound services are provided to the family, including case management for at least twelve months after the family becomes housed. The case manager works with families to connect them to health and mental health care, support for their social-emotional wellbeing, as well as other needed assistance.

BPS’ housing partnership has led to the development of a second initiative, the Emergency Homelessness Intervention Program. This program provides case management and wraparound services to increase family access to shelters, connect to health care partners, support social-emotional wellbeing, and connect families to financial assistance to break the cycle of homelessness. 

These partnerships have been critical components of the academic success of BPS students. Teachers are better able to work with students to meet academic needs because they have partnerships to meet non-academic needs. School staff are trained in making referrals to FamilyAid, and the McKinney-Vento points of contact in each school building support the referral process. 

“Even with forward thinking business office staff and agreement among our top leadership, there were still barriers to facilitate housing support on our own. Part of our plan was to have a seat at the table and a voice with providers. They have expertise that we don’t have to navigate housing barriers so that teachers can focus on teaching.” – Brian Marques, Senior Director, Department of Opportunity Youth

Richland County School District One, South Carolina

Richland County School District One is using ARP-HCY funds to increase the capacity of their McKinney-Vento program for the first time. The district has created two positions to support the work of the long-time homeless liaison. The first position funded with ARP-HCY will be an administrative assistant to support the overall work of the program. The second position is a case manager position who will focus on outreach and identification, as well as systems navigation, supporting the work of the liaison, and continuing to build up the program.  Richland One has lost students because of the pandemic and overall numbers are down. However, increasing staff capacity with ARP-HCY funds provides the opportunity to be intentional and deliberate in finding and supporting these students. 

In addition to adding staff members, Richland One will use ARP-HCY funds to support the work of a new partnership with the NAACP. Through a fellowship with law students from the University of South Carolina, the NAACP will provide clinics around the district to connect families with housing navigators and legal resources. The NAACP will provide trained housing navigators to walk families through housing issues ranging from eviction to tenant-landlord issues. Families will benefit from the pro-bono legal expertise provided, as well as the comprehensive connections to community resources. ARP-HCY funds will pay for school staff time to be available during the clinics, but the clinics themselves will not require funding, making this housing resource sustainable into the future. 

“I am excited because for the first time we are able to help with capacity which is a huge need in our district. I’m excited about the wonderful footprint this work will leave.”

-Deborah C. Boone, McKinney-Vento/PASS Coordinator

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, California

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools decided to use their ARP-HCY Part I funds to prioritize youth empowerment and countywide mentoring. They hired formerly homeless youth as “Peer Support Associates” to meet with youth, educators, and community countywide. Peer Support Associates share their stories in order to empower youth to advocate for themselves and to encourage youth to not let their current circumstances define their future. They also inspire stakeholders to support and serve children and youth experiencing homelessness, and help educate teachers, school staff and community on the importance of one caring adult, building trust, and understanding homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act. The Peer Support Associate positions are funded for two years.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools also braided ARP-HCY Part I funds with state and district funds to contract with school-based mentors who have lived experiences and relate to youth. Mentors support junior high, high schools and county community schools to provide once-a-month on-campus mentoring, inclusive of mental wellness, life skills, healthy relationships, academic support, and postsecondary planning support.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools also received a smaller amount of ARP-HCY Part II funds, which were used for a county-wide back-to-school event in partnership with faith-based organizations, the district attorney, probation, local assembly member, and other community agencies. Through this collective impact event, over 11,000 backpacks with school supplies were distributed to three different regions of the county. San Bernardino County encompasses over 20,000 square miles of rural , urban, and suburban regions.

San Bernardino County will gather data to show the importance and impact of school-based mentoring, Peer Support Associates, and how one caring adult can make a difference in the lives of the students that we serve. Together with the anecdotal information from youth, San Bernardino County will show the need to implement and support programs like these in the future, in the hopes that educational systems will prioritize securing funding to continue empowering our youth.

“The funding is good, but temporary. What do we do after? It is important that we are intentional with these funds to maximize our efforts and resources to meet the needs of children and youth. In the end, our goal is to inspire all children and youth, and empower them to use their voice.”
-Brenda Dowdy, Homeless Education Project Manager

Ridgefield School District, Washington

When Ridgefield School District learned they’d be receiving ARP-HCY funds, the Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning began to survey school staff, including counselors, administrators, connection mentors (social-emotional learning support staff), and the family resource center coordinator. District staff identified key needs of mental health services, tutoring, and transportation. The Assistant Director then surveyed every family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. Families identified key needs of not feeling connected to school and needing more communication between home and school. The Assistant Director met with each student identified as an unaccompanied homeless youth at the high school level and learned that needs would have to be met on an individual basis.

Based on survey results, Camp Cope-A-Lot, an online curriculum, will be purchased to support mental health, stress and anxiety. Camp Cope-A-Lot is an online program to help kids learn coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Because the district has 1:1 chromebooks, students can access Camp Cope-A-Lot both at home and at school. In addition, the district also plans to purchase a family account that aligns with the student’s account.

Since the need for greater connections between school and home was identified, the district is working on a plan to better engage families through regular free and fun family events called “Growing Spudders”, modeled after an existing program at the district’s early learning center. The district plans to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase educational games for the family events, as well as use the events to provide opportunities to foster community. These events will also support increased identification, as more families are connecting with school and the homeless liaison.

In order to meet the individual needs of the district’s unaccompanied homeless youth, the district plans to use pre-paid Visa cards. The Assistant Director will be responsible for tracking the use of the pre-paid cards, including who received it, for what purpose, and other district tracking requirements.

“I always go back to my own lived experience. I would have attended school more if I would have had coping strategies to manage my stress and anxiety about missing school because of my living situation. I want to make sure to build connections, empathy and understanding between school and families. These funds are helping to make it possible.”
– Kataira Smith, Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning and Homeless Liaison

Akron Public Schools, Ohio

Akron Public Schools (APS) typically receives McKinney-Vento subgrant funds and has a robust program to support students experiencing homelessness, providing intake staff to focus on identification and academic advocates for case management. Using ESSER funds, Akron Public Schools was able to increase staff capacity serving as academic advocates for students experiencing homelessness.

In deciding how to use ARP-HCY funds, APS prioritized sustainability in order to maintain programming beyond ARP funds. APS used ARP-HCY I funds for supplies to support attendance and engagement, such as hygiene products, clothing and food vouchers, but also contracted with the central intake office of their local United Way. With this contract, families have direct access to a housing navigator. The housing navigator also will be a point person for school staff when supporting families with housing instability. APS will collect and analyze data to evaluate this partnership, and pursue opportunities for funding through the United Way after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available.

Like many school districts across the nation, Akron Public Schools saw a decrease in numbers of students identified as homeless due to the challenges of identification during the pandemic and remote learning. Therefore, they also will use ARP-HCY funds for targeted marketing. APS has a contract with a local billboard company for four weeks of advertising now, and 4 weeks at the beginning of the year to increase awareness and identification of students.

In addition, ARP-HCY II funds will be used for professional development for staff. Using McKinney-Vento subgrant carryover funds, APS initiated the development of an online program to provide a simulation of homelessness and housing instability. ARP-HCY II funds will support the completion of the project, as well as support the use in schools and the community.

ARP-HCY II funds also are supporting the development of two important new partnerships to meet the needs of children and youth in APS. First, APS is partnering with Legal Aid to support families in navigating and working through housing and eviction needs, as well as other legal needs affecting housing. APS will conduct a legal assessment for families needing services, and refer them to the Legal Aid office for continuing work. This partnership will include both attorney hours and training for staff. Second, in addition to the APS partnership with Head Start, APS will begin to provide SPARK, a preschool program designed to support the kindergarten readiness of 3- and 4-year-olds. Through SPARK, a part-time staff person will provide curriculum and support twice a month in the homes of 25 early learners each year. Using data to demonstrate need and effectiveness, APS will look for funding sources through community partnerships to continue SPARK after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available.

“It’s different to have funding, in addition to the regular McKinney-Vento grant, so it’s a nice ‘problem’ to have. We are really looking at what needs we have, and what we can do better.”
-Shannah Carino, District Homeless Liaison and McKinney-Vento Specialist

Ridgefield School District, Washington 

When Ridgefield School District learned they’d be receiving ARP-HCY funds, the Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning began to survey school staff, including counselors, administrators, connection mentors (social-emotional learning support staff), and the family resource center coordinator. District staff identified key needs of mental health services, tutoring, and transportation. The Assistant Director then surveyed every family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. Families identified key needs of not feeling connected to school and needing more communication between home and school. The Assistant Director met with each student identified as an unaccompanied homeless youth at the high school level and learned that needs would have to be met on an individual basis.

Based on survey results, Camp Cope-A-Lot, an online curriculum, will be purchased to support mental health, stress and anxiety. Camp Cope-A-Lot is an online program to help kids learn coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Because the district has 1:1 chromebooks, students can access Camp Cope-A-Lot both at home and at school. In addition, the district also plans to purchase a family account that aligns with the student’s account.

Since the need for greater connections between school and home was identified, the district is working on a plan to better engage families through regular free and fun family events called “Growing Spudders”, modeled after an existing program at the district’s early learning center. The district plans to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase educational games for the family events, as well as use the events to provide opportunities to foster community. These events will also support increased identification, as more families are connecting with school and the homeless liaison.

In order to meet the individual needs of the district’s unaccompanied homeless youth, the district plans to use pre-paid Visa cards. The Assistant Director will be responsible for tracking the use of the pre-paid cards, including who received it, for what purpose, and other district tracking requirements.

“I always go back to my own lived experience. I would have attended school more if I would have had coping strategies to manage my stress and anxiety about missing school because of my living situation. I want to make sure to build connections, empathy and understanding between school and families. These funds are helping to make it possible.”
– Kataira Smith, Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning and Homeless Liaison

Middletown Public Schools, Middletown, Rhode Island 

Using ESSER funds, Middletown Public Schools hired a full-time Family Services Coordinator due to the increased numbers of identified students experiencing homelessness, particularly among the multilingual learner population. When ARP-HCY Part I was distributed, the Family Services Coordinator began targeted communication and outreach to families to determine needs. Decisions on the best use of ARP-HCY funds were guided by these weekly communications and check-ins, during which time it became clear that families need support with food and winter clothing. The Family Services Coordinator uses ARP-HCY funds to purchase supermarket and store gift cards so families are able to purchase needed items. These gift cards are purchased in collaboration with the district business office, submitting purchase orders through existing store accounts.

In addition, the Family Services Coordinator determined that families need support with wraparound services. ARP-HCY funds are supporting after school transportation to the Boys and Girls Club for homework support and free meals so students end their days fed and with completed homework. The district is also providing mental health services in school buildings during school hours, in partnership with the community-based organization Newport Mental Health. The Family Services Coordinator hopes to use additional ARP-HCY funds to increase staff training in McKinney-Vento and best practices to support students.

 “I think that the flexibility of this funding has been such a huge help to homeless liaisons. There used to be more regulations on the funding but being able to use the money to help with food, phones, taxis as well as wraparound services has meant that we can be more on the front lines helping families in unconventional ways.”
– Megan Mainzer, Family Services Coordinator

Lawton Public Schools, Oklahoma

Lawton Public Schools (LPS) are using ARP-HCY funds to meet both immediate needs and to engage students in learning. Working with the IT Director, the district secured contracts with Verizon to provide cell phones to unaccompanied homeless youth. So far, LPS has distributed one cell phone that is not only serving to support the youth’s communication with school, but has also served to boost this student’s self-confidence as technology access now mirrors that of the youth’s peers. LPS asked the youth to sign an agreement at the time of distribution, agreeing to answer when school calls, and agreeing to revisit the contract during the summer if the student enrolls in summer school and is employed. In addition, district technology staff met with the student to review how to use the phone and to talk about social media use. 

In addition, transportation remains a barrier for students experiencing homelessness at LPS. There have been challenges with gaps of time between transportation requests and when transportation begins. LPS has traveling counselors who were providing transportation during this interim time, but it is often unreliable depending on counselor schedules. Because of this, ARP-HCY funds were used to purchase a vehicle. The vehicle will also be used for virtual students to access school services. It will also be used for home visits to students and families and to transport students to needed health services. 

LPS currently funds two part-time mentors and a McKinney-Vento Administrative Assistant out of the Title I, Part A homeless reservation.The mentors are retired coaches who support students experiencing homelessness by checking in with them, checking on attendance and grades, and providing additional support. With ARP-HCY funds, LPS was able to hire a retired educator to serve as a mentor in the middle school. In addition to this staff member, LPS hired a McKinney-Vento Outreach Specialist. The Outreach Specialist is a social worker who is focusing on supporting students experiencing homelessness in the district’s virtual program. The Outreach Specialist not only checks in on students and supports their academic engagement, but also can follow up with students who are not yet identified. Doing home visits to these students, the Outreach Specialist is able to identify new students or refer those who are not experiencing homelessness to other school staff for support. 

LPS is currently brainstorming ways to support students experiencing homelessness in preschool. The vision is to not only support young learners, but also provide education and training for families so that learning can continue no matter what the family’s living situation. 

“Whatever you thought you couldn’t do, now is the time to do it with these funds. We’ve not been able to support our students in these ways until now.”

-Andrea Winstead, Title I/IX Facilitator

Pinellas County Schools, Florida

As of the end of November 2022, Pinellas County Schools (PCS) had 3, 062 students identified, approximately 6% of their student population. After receiving $1.9 million in ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds, PCS prioritized providing wraparound services and housing-related supports, staffing, and transportation to support the district’s students experiencing homelessness. The majority of the funds were dedicated to supporting housing partnerships.

With a collaborative contract already in place between the city of St. Petersburg, PCS, and other community partners, the district was able to expand this cooperative agreement to support housing for families using ARP-HCY funds. The community organization, Directions for Living, provides programs to get families into shelter and housing. Prior to ARP-HCY, this program collaboration was specific to students and families at the highest need schools with the highest numbers of students experiencing homelessness. Because of ARP-HCY funds, this contract was expanded to include any family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. McKinney-Vento points of contact in each building can refer any family to this program. With just over $1 million in ARP-HCY funds going toward this housing collaboration, additional case managers were hired to support families not only get into housing, but also to support those at risk of homelessness by advocating with landlords and helping remove past evictions from rental histories, and place families in motels temporarily. This housing program can serve up to 90 families in a school year, and PCS has already referred more than 90 families to this program. The case managers work to remove barriers to the resources and supports that exist within the county.

In addition, PCS has used ARP-HCY funds to support a partnership with a community organization, Clothes for Kids, that provides uniforms to students. Prior to this partnership, PCS was using district funds to buy uniforms for students on an as needed basis; however, with ARP-HCY and Title IX funds, PCS is able to partner with Clothes for Kids so families can go to this organization to shop for uniforms and clean clothes for a week at a time, removing this barrier for students to attend school.

PCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to expand a collaboration with the community program Starting Right Now. This program serves unaccompanied homeless youth, providing housing, mentors and life skills to support students through high school and graduation, postsecondary planning, and continuing to support them through their higher education. District points of contact can refer unaccompanied homeless youth to this program, and ARP-HCY funds COVID health and hygiene protocols for referred students.

Using approximately $500,000, ARP-HCY funds made it possible to expand the district’s existing contract with Ever Driven Transportation, a private rideshare with vetted drivers for school of origin transportation. With the additional transportation option, attendance and stability have increased, most notably for students at the secondary level.

Finally, ARP-HCY funds were used to hire an additional staff member who will take over as homeless liaison in December of 2023. The liaison position is currently funded through the Title I, Part A homeless reservation, so funding for this position will shift from ARP-HCY to Title I, Part A when funds are no longer available.

PCS is carefully tracking data on these partnerships and initiatives, with the goal that community partners will step up to fund these once ARP-HCY funds are no longer available. Because the data shows the efficacy of the work, community partners will be able to see how their funding can be used in tandem with PCS funds. This includes other available grant application opportunities, expanding existing district contracts, and shifting district funds to best meet needs. The district prioritizes networking with community partners to show the successes of the collaborations and the need for further partnership and funding.

“We are visible in the community, reminding our community partners of McKinney-Vento so that our housing partners can also be McKinney-Vento advocates. We connect families to these partners who are experts at moving families into housing because our expertise is education. We’ve built a successful model of partnerships with our housing providers, and it’s been the best way to use ARP-HCY funds to support our families.”
-Dr. Christine Cantrell, Student and Community Support Services Homeless Liaison

EdAdvance, Torrington, Connecticut

EdAdvance is one of Connecticut’s six Regional Educational Service Centers, and serves Western Connecticut. EdAdvance is using ARP-HCY funds to increase staffing capacity. It will be hiring a part-time case manager, who will focus on outreach to youth experiencing homelessness, and will provide assistance to families experiencing homelessness seeking affordable housing. EdAdvance also will be hiring an early childhood specialist to do community outreach and enroll young children experiencing homelessness in school, early intervention programs, and other early childhood programs. This addresses needs determined in visits to domestic violence shelters and the local home- visiting program, which revealed increased numbers of young children experiencing homelessness. In addition to these positions, EdAdvance will be hiring a part-time van driver to help meet the growing transportation needs of McKinney-Vento students, starting in the fall. EdAdvance also used ARP-HCY funds to install WiFi routers in nearby shelters, as it was discovered that regular school-provided hotspots were not sufficient to meet the connectivity needs of families in shelters. ARP-HCY will also continue to be used to provide other services, such as emergency hotel stays, gas cards, camperships, and tutoring for students.

“Having additional ARP-HCY funds has been a gift to actually have resources at the ready for plans and the ability to make change with McKinney-Vento families by investing in staff to enhance outreach and support.”- Michelle Anderson, Director of Early Childhood and Family Programs

New Philadelphia City Schools, Ohio

New Philadelphia City Schools has recently experienced an influx of students arriving from Guatemala. In a district of 3,100 students, hundreds are identified as English learners and unaccompanied homeless youth. These students arrive with limited educational experience and different educational expectations from their home country. This often means that in rain or snow, students arrive late or miss school altogether, as may be typical in their home country. In addition, New Philadelphia has a walk zone of one mile, and many of these students live just within the walk zone. The school social worker and the Federal Programs Coordinator collaborated to consider how ARP-HCY funds could support the attendance of this group of Guatemalan students identified as unaccompanied homeless youth. Using data, they determined that many of their unaccompanied middle and high school English Learners were not attending because of the lack of busing in the walk zone, and students simply aren’t wanting to walk that far so early in the morning or in inclement weather. 

As a result, the district decided to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase bikes to break down the barriers of attendance for the Guatemalan students and other students identified as experiencing homelessness. In addition, ARP-HCY funds will be used for minor remodeling of an existing on-site modular building to create a space for meeting student needs, including storage bins and clothing racks to organize student supplies. The modular will house the bikes for students, as well as hygiene and school supplies, clothing, shoes, and other basic needs for students experiencing homelessness. ARP-HCY funds will also cover the salary of a part-time staff person to organize and manage this space, providing a one-stop shop for students and school staff to meet the needs of students and provide bikes for transportation. The district will monitor the attendance of students utilizing bikes for transportation to determine the success of this model. Because there are many students in the district who ride bikes to school, this mode of transportation will not stigmatize the students experiencing homelessness. Finally, the district anticipates using ARP-HCY funds to purchase prepaid cell phones for students to maintain better connections and engagement with school. 

“We are excited to get this up and running and to really be able to help these kids. It will be possible because of the extra ARP-HCY funds. Many of these kids are largely unsupervised because they are unaccompanied homeless youth, but they are still expected to attend school. We believe providing bikes will help make that happen.”

– Laurie Hall, Federal Programs Coordinator

Minneapolis Public Schools, Minnesota

To better understand how their ARP-HCY funds should be spent, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) developed a survey that was sent to students and parents experiencing homelessness, along with staff and community partners. Using current and past identified student information, MPS was able to use mini-grant funds received from Education Leads Home to provide gift cards for completing the survey, reaching over 200 unique students and parents of students experiencing homelessness. By asking questions about barriers, as well as what has helped students and families in the past, MPS identified three key areas to invest their ARP-HCY funds: transportation, basic needs, and mental health. They have matched those needs with ARP-HCY funds and taken steps toward hiring a transportation scheduler, bringing on a summer social worker focused on mental health needs of students experiencing homelessness, and partnering with the local housing authority to provide wrap-around support for accessing housing vouchers. To learn more about the survey and the other ways in which MPS plans to use ARP HCY funds, view this short presentation.

“Some families (33%) felt like there was no one at the school who provided support for their student experiencing homelessness, and that was a really big thing for us to see and realize through this survey.”
– Melissa Winship, Minneapolis Public Schools

Washington Court House City Schools, Ohio

Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) have had strong processes for identifying students experiencing homelessness over the years. However, as the district began to look at which students were identified, WCHCS realized that communication barriers greatly impacted the district’s ability to offer additional support and resources to families experiencing homelessness.  Many of these families did not have access to technology, were not willing to share their circumstances or did not respond at all to efforts to offer help. 

As a result, WCHCS decided to write a McKinney-Vento subgrant application, which ultimately wasn’t funded but led to receiving ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds. With the awarding of these funds, the district began a mentorship program for their students experiencing homelessness. The goal was for the mentor to be the bridge between the district and families so resources and support could flow to students and families experiencing homelessness.  In the beginning, certified staff were tapped to fill the role of mentors, but as the program has grown, all full-time staff are now able to participate after attending training. 

Once a student is identified under McKinney-Vento, the WCHCS liaison/social worker reaches out to the parent or guardian, as well as staff in the building where the student attends. Upon parent approval, a mentor is then paired with the identified student, meeting with the student a minimum of twice per month for a minimum of 30 minutes. All mentor-mentee meetings occur during the school day in order to avoid additional burdens outside of school hours for these families.  The mentors use their personal time for these meetings.  In fact, many mentors choose to spend lunch with their mentee at least one time per week. Mentors are also required to be in contact with the parent or guardian at least one time per month. Mentors receive a stipend, funded by ARP-HCY, for taking on this role. 

In order to track the program to show outcomes and success, the McKinney-Vento Coordinator uses Google sheets.  One sheet is used to track the whole program, but individual spreadsheets are created for every family and are monitored by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker. Mentors use the Google sheet to log contacts with their mentee, including goals, attendance, and grades. In addition, mentors log all contact with the parent/guardian, tracking needs that the family has and referrals that are made by the McKinney-Vento liaison/social worker to community partners. If there is more than one student per family, all mentors have access to the sheet for the entire family so that mentors can collaborate with other mentors to support the whole family. 

The mentorship program has led to a significant increase in the identification of students.  In fact, the number of students experiencing homelessness that have been identified have increased from an average of 65 last year to over 100 this year.  Because families now have stronger connections to school through the mentorship program, they are sharing with other families through word of mouth.  This enables school staff to connect with other families who are experiencing homelessness and needing support. Because the district has strong community partnerships, the district is able to meet non-academic needs that families have that are often shared through the mentor-mentee relationships. In addition, the district has sought feedback from parents and students on the success of the program and 100% of families and students have expressed how much they love the mentorship program; families and staff have all expressed that it’s been rewarding and impactful.

In addition to the mentorship program, WCHCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to provide tutoring and wraparound services. From the data collected during the first year of the mentorship program, staff noticed a trend that many of the district’s students experiencing homelessness struggled with behavior concerns.  With ARP-HCY funds, the district hired a McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician, who is trained by the district Prevention Coordinator. The district Prevention Coordinator, who is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), goes into classrooms, assesses what interventions the student would benefit from, and then the McKinney-Vento Behavior Technician implements the interventions with students experiencing homelessness. This has allowed WCHCS to better support students with behavior struggles due to the trauma they’ve experienced, as well as to model interactions and communication strategies.

As WCHCS plans for sustainability after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available, the district will apply for McKinney-Vento subgrant funds.  In the event that subgrant funds are not awarded, mentors for the program will be on a volunteer basis.  The Behavior Technician position will not be cut but will likely be absorbed by another position.  The district hopes to gather enough data to make a case to continue to fund this position by other means. 

“Our district is located in a rural city that is very generous and supportive of community members in need.  Making connections between resources and families was a struggle previously due to not knowing what our families experiencing homelessness needed.  The mentor program not only benefits individual students, but overall we are able to connect families to resources more efficiently. Thanks to these funds, we’ve been able to create a program so that families can feel connected and more open to sharing their needs. This has had a huge impact on our students, our school community and on identification.”

-Laura McNamara, Student Services Coordinator and McKinney-Vento Coordinator

Lawton Public Schools, Oklahoma

Lawton Public Schools (LPS) are using ARP-HCY funds to meet both immediate needs and to engage students in learning. Working with the IT Director, the district secured contracts with Verizon to provide cell phones to unaccompanied homeless youth. So far, LPS has distributed one cell phone that is not only serving to support the youth’s communication with school, but has also served to boost this student’s self-confidence as technology access now mirrors that of the youth’s peers. LPS asked the youth to sign an agreement at the time of distribution, agreeing to answer when school calls, and agreeing to revisit the contract during the summer if the student enrolls in summer school and is employed. In addition, district technology staff met with the student to review how to use the phone and to talk about social media use. 

In addition, transportation remains a barrier for students experiencing homelessness at LPS. There have been challenges with gaps of time between transportation requests and when transportation begins. LPS has traveling counselors who were providing transportation during this interim time, but it is often unreliable depending on counselor schedules. Because of this, ARP-HCY funds were used to purchase a vehicle. The vehicle will also be used for virtual students to access school services. It will also be used for home visits to students and families and to transport students to needed health services. 

LPS currently funds two part-time mentors and a McKinney-Vento Administrative Assistant out of the Title I, Part A homeless reservation.The mentors are retired coaches who support students experiencing homelessness by checking in with them, checking on attendance and grades, and providing additional support. With ARP-HCY funds, LPS was able to hire a retired educator to serve as a mentor in the middle school. In addition to this staff member, LPS hired a McKinney-Vento Outreach Specialist. The Outreach Specialist is a social worker who is focusing on supporting students experiencing homelessness in the district’s virtual program. The Outreach Specialist not only checks in on students and supports their academic engagement, but also can follow up with students who are not yet identified. Doing home visits to these students, the Outreach Specialist is able to identify new students or refer those who are not experiencing homelessness to other school staff for support. 

LPS is currently brainstorming ways to support students experiencing homelessness in preschool. The vision is to not only support young learners, but also provide education and training for families so that learning can continue no matter what the family’s living situation. 

“Whatever you thought you couldn’t do, now is the time to do it with these funds. We’ve not been able to support our students in these ways until now.”

-Andrea Winstead, Title I/IX Facilitator

Pinellas County Schools, Florida

As of the end of November 2022, Pinellas County Schools (PCS) had 3, 062 students identified, approximately 6% of their student population. After receiving $1.9 million in ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds, PCS prioritized providing wraparound services and housing-related supports, staffing, and transportation to support the district’s students experiencing homelessness. The majority of the funds were dedicated to supporting housing partnerships.

With a collaborative contract already in place between the city of St. Petersburg, PCS, and other community partners, the district was able to expand this cooperative agreement to support housing for families using ARP-HCY funds. The community organization, Directions for Living, provides programs to get families into shelter and housing. Prior to ARP-HCY, this program collaboration was specific to students and families at the highest need schools with the highest numbers of students experiencing homelessness. Because of ARP-HCY funds, this contract was expanded to include any family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. McKinney-Vento points of contact in each building can refer any family to this program. With just over $1 million in ARP-HCY funds going toward this housing collaboration, additional case managers were hired to support families not only get into housing, but also to support those at risk of homelessness by advocating with landlords and helping remove past evictions from rental histories, and place families in motels temporarily. This housing program can serve up to 90 families in a school year, and PCS has already referred more than 90 families to this program. The case managers work to remove barriers to the resources and supports that exist within the county.

In addition, PCS has used ARP-HCY funds to support a partnership with a community organization, Clothes for Kids, that provides uniforms to students. Prior to this partnership, PCS was using district funds to buy uniforms for students on an as needed basis; however, with ARP-HCY and Title IX funds, PCS is able to partner with Clothes for Kids so families can go to this organization to shop for uniforms and clean clothes for a week at a time, removing this barrier for students to attend school.

PCS is also using ARP-HCY funds to expand a collaboration with the community program Starting Right Now. This program serves unaccompanied homeless youth, providing housing, mentors and life skills to support students through high school and graduation, postsecondary planning, and continuing to support them through their higher education. District points of contact can refer unaccompanied homeless youth to this program, and ARP-HCY funds COVID health and hygiene protocols for referred students.

Using approximately $500,000, ARP-HCY funds made it possible to expand the district’s existing contract with Ever Driven Transportation, a private rideshare with vetted drivers for school of origin transportation. With the additional transportation option, attendance and stability have increased, most notably for students at the secondary level.

Finally, ARP-HCY funds were used to hire an additional staff member who will take over as homeless liaison in December of 2023. The liaison position is currently funded through the Title I, Part A homeless reservation, so funding for this position will shift from ARP-HCY to Title I, Part A when funds are no longer available.

PCS is carefully tracking data on these partnerships and initiatives, with the goal that community partners will step up to fund these once ARP-HCY funds are no longer available. Because the data shows the efficacy of the work, community partners will be able to see how their funding can be used in tandem with PCS funds. This includes other available grant application opportunities, expanding existing district contracts, and shifting district funds to best meet needs. The district prioritizes networking with community partners to show the successes of the collaborations and the need for further partnership and funding.

“We are visible in the community, reminding our community partners of McKinney-Vento so that our housing partners can also be McKinney-Vento advocates. We connect families to these partners who are experts at moving families into housing because our expertise is education. We’ve built a successful model of partnerships with our housing providers, and it’s been the best way to use ARP-HCY funds to support our families.”
-Dr. Christine Cantrell, Student and Community Support Services Homeless Liaison

Monte del Sol Charter School, New Mexico

Monte del Sol Charter School serves approximately 360 total students, with a large population of immigrant students, primarily Spanish-speaking, in grades 7-12. The number of students experiencing homelessness has increased in the last seven years from one student to 45 so far this year (mid-May) and many are immigrants. The part-time homeless liaison has worked hard to build relationships with families over the last seven years, providing a food bank as a way to meet needs and establish trust. As the liaison has gotten to know families over the years, it became evident that the school needed a fully bilingual staff member to support communication with families experiencing homelessness.

The homeless liaison was already working with the city to support families in accessing rental assistance through systems navigation. As the application process for rental assistance has become more cumbersome, immigrant families experiencing homelessness needed someone to help navigate the application in their native language. With ARP-HCY funds, the homeless liaison created a part-time Bilingual Benefits Navigator position to meet this need. The school hired a Navigator who was already a staff member and already had strong relationships with families and the community.

The Bilingual Benefits Navigator has lived experience that helps build connections and trust with families. The Navigator is primarily working on housing navigation, helping families apply for state rental and utility assistance with federal relief funds. However, the position has flexible hours and is able to support families in other ways, such as helping a mom and daughter navigate shopping for basic needs like clothing. In addition, the Navigator assists with identification of students because of the relationships that have been established. Families trust her with information about their living situations that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with others. The Navigator is also a support person for pregnant and parenting teens on campus, again drawing from her own lived experience. The Navigator is savvy in knowing how to help families with significant needs and has been critical in the school’s work with children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are also Spanish-speaking. The success of this position has been significant and the school anticipates writing future grants, including an EHCY subgrant, to sustain this position.

“Our school serves mostly immigrant families, including many established families who have relatives from Mexico move in and double up due to financial hardship. The continuity with families helps us to identify and support those who are experiencing homelessness. Families come into our school and I already have a history with them. With this Navigator position, we are able to serve our families in a caring and empathic way in their language.”

-Cate Moses, Homeless Education Liaison

Menominee Indian School District, Wisconsin

The Menominee Indian School District (MISD) is located on the Menominee Indian Reservation in rural Wisconsin. As a tribal community, cultural connections are important and the district strives to serve students and families through a network of relationships. The district has placed a strong emphasis on identifying students experiencing homelessness, and currently identifies about 10% of the total student population as eligible for McKinney-Vento services. When COVID shut down in-person learning, the district quickly realized that school is the main source of safety and stability for students experiencing homelessness, as well as the primary place for students to access food.

In response, MISD used ARP-HCY funds to set up a support room at the high school where students experiencing homelessness can access washers and dryers, as well as hygiene supplies and shelf-stable food. The district evaluated the needs of students and families and determined that it will provide these resources 12 months of the year, remaining open all summer long. This support room also provides a place for students to connect with school staff.

Using district funds, MISD has hired Student Success Mentors in each building, and ARP-HCY funds pay for a portion of the mentors’ salary in order to specifically support students experiencing homelessness. Every student is assigned to a Success Mentor, and for many students experiencing homelessness, the Mentor checks in daily to ensure that needs are being met and relationships are being established.

The district also plans to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase prepaid cell phones for students and passes for community transportation so that students can access school buildings and school staff all year round.

“Because we are a tribal school and families are so interconnected, relationships are crucial. We are careful not to put all our eggs in one basket but to create positions that can continue long after funding ends. We are thoughtful and intentional about funding streams, and know that the work we start with ARP-HCY will continue after the funding period is over.”
-Kate Mikle, Principal, Menominee Indian High School

Ridgefield School District, Washington

When Ridgefield School District learned they’d be receiving ARP-HCY funds, the Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning began to survey school staff, including counselors, administrators, connection mentors (social-emotional learning support staff), and the family resource center coordinator. District staff identified key needs of mental health services, tutoring, and transportation. The Assistant Director then surveyed every family identified as experiencing homelessness in the district. Families identified key needs of not feeling connected to school and needing more communication between home and school. The Assistant Director met with each student identified as an unaccompanied homeless youth at the high school level and learned that needs would have to be met on an individual basis.

Based on survey results, Camp Cope-A-Lot, an online curriculum, will be purchased to support mental health, stress and anxiety. Camp Cope-A-Lot is an online program to help kids learn coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Because the district has 1:1 chromebooks, students can access Camp Cope-A-Lot both at home and at school. In addition, the district also plans to purchase a family account that aligns with the student’s account.

Since the need for greater connections between school and home was identified, the district is working on a plan to better engage families through regular free and fun family events called “Growing Spudders”, modeled after an existing program at the district’s early learning center. The district plans to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase educational games for the family events, as well as use the events to provide opportunities to foster community. These events will also support increased identification, as more families are connecting with school and the homeless liaison.

In order to meet the individual needs of the district’s unaccompanied homeless youth, the district plans to use pre-paid Visa cards. The Assistant Director will be responsible for tracking the use of the pre-paid cards, including who received it, for what purpose, and other district tracking requirements.

“I always go back to my own lived experience. I would have attended school more if I would have had coping strategies to manage my stress and anxiety about missing school because of my living situation. I want to make sure to build connections, empathy and understanding between school and families. These funds are helping to make it possible.”
– Kataira Smith, Assistant Director of Social Emotional Learning and Homeless Liaison

New Philadelphia City Schools, Ohio

New Philadelphia City Schools has recently experienced an influx of students arriving from Guatemala. In a district of 3,100 students, hundreds are identified as English learners and unaccompanied homeless youth. These students arrive with limited educational experience and different educational expectations from their home country. This often means that in rain or snow, students arrive late or miss school altogether, as may be typical in their home country. In addition, New Philadelphia has a walk zone of one mile, and many of these students live just within the walk zone. The school social worker and the Federal Programs Coordinator collaborated to consider how ARP-HCY funds could support the attendance of this group of Guatemalan students identified as unaccompanied homeless youth. Using data, they determined that many of their unaccompanied middle and high school English Learners were not attending because of the lack of busing in the walk zone, and students simply aren’t wanting to walk that far so early in the morning or in inclement weather. 

As a result, the district decided to use ARP-HCY funds to purchase bikes to break down the barriers of attendance for the Guatemalan students and other students identified as experiencing homelessness. In addition, ARP-HCY funds will be used for minor remodeling of an existing on-site modular building to create a space for meeting student needs, including storage bins and clothing racks to organize student supplies. The modular will house the bikes for students, as well as hygiene and school supplies, clothing, shoes, and other basic needs for students experiencing homelessness. ARP-HCY funds will also cover the salary of a part-time staff person to organize and manage this space, providing a one-stop shop for students and school staff to meet the needs of students and provide bikes for transportation. The district will monitor the attendance of students utilizing bikes for transportation to determine the success of this model. Because there are many students in the district who ride bikes to school, this mode of transportation will not stigmatize the students experiencing homelessness. Finally, the district anticipates using ARP-HCY funds to purchase prepaid cell phones for students to maintain better connections and engagement with school. 

“We are excited to get this up and running and to really be able to help these kids. It will be possible because of the extra ARP-HCY funds. Many of these kids are largely unsupervised because they are unaccompanied homeless youth, but they are still expected to attend school. We believe providing bikes will help make that happen.”

– Laurie Hall, Federal Programs Coordinator

Durham Public Schools, North Carolina

Durham Public Schools utilizes multiple funding sources to provide extensive supports and services to their students experiencing homelessness. Using Title I, Part A funds, the LEA pays for the homeless liaison salary, as well as a McKinney-Vento social worker to identify and support students which, pre-pandemic, numbered over 1,000 . Title I, Part A funds also support salaries and transportation for the LEA’s tutoring program for identified students. Durham Public Schools also receive McKinney-Vento subgrant funds, which are used to provide tutoring and summer camp programming. 

With the LEA’s ARP-HCY funds, the LEA is prioritizing their focus on high school students. Unaccompanied homeless youth will have access to academic tutoring, ACT and SAT prep, FAFSA, and college essay writing support. The LEA is using funds to hire a youth case manager to intentionally meet the needs of these youth. Unaccompanied youth will also have access to two years of mental health support through the district.

In addition, the LEA is expanding tutoring at the elementary and middle school levels, bringing tutors into the buildings with the highest need to ensure direct access.

Durham currently has one shelter that youth over 18 can access. The LEA is using ARP-HCY funds to create a study space at the shelter to support re-engagement of youth and access to educational programming.  

“I’m excited because if it had not been for ARP-HCY funding, there is a lot we wouldn’t be able to do!”
– Ebony Ross, Homeless Liaison

Akron Public Schools, Ohio

Akron Public Schools (APS) typically receives McKinney-Vento subgrant funds and has a robust program to support students experiencing homelessness, providing intake staff to focus on identification and academic advocates for case management. Using ESSER funds, Akron Public Schools was able to increase staff capacity serving as academic advocates for students experiencing homelessness.

In deciding how to use ARP-HCY funds, APS prioritized sustainability in order to maintain programming beyond ARP funds. APS used ARP-HCY I funds for supplies to support attendance and engagement, such as hygiene products, clothing and food vouchers, but also contracted with the central intake office of their local United Way. With this contract, families have direct access to a housing navigator. The housing navigator also will be a point person for school staff when supporting families with housing instability. APS will collect and analyze data to evaluate this partnership, and pursue opportunities for funding through the United Way after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available.

Like many school districts across the nation, Akron Public Schools saw a decrease in numbers of students identified as homeless due to the challenges of identification during the pandemic and remote learning. Therefore, they also will use ARP-HCY funds for targeted marketing. APS has a contract with a local billboard company for four weeks of advertising now, and 4 weeks at the beginning of the year to increase awareness and identification of students.

In addition, ARP-HCY II funds will be used for professional development for staff. Using McKinney-Vento subgrant carryover funds, APS initiated the development of an online program to provide a simulation of homelessness and housing instability. ARP-HCY II funds will support the completion of the project, as well as support the use in schools and the community.

ARP-HCY II funds also are supporting the development of two important new partnerships to meet the needs of children and youth in APS. First, APS is partnering with Legal Aid to support families in navigating and working through housing and eviction needs, as well as other legal needs affecting housing. APS will conduct a legal assessment for families needing services, and refer them to the Legal Aid office for continuing work. This partnership will include both attorney hours and training for staff. Second, in addition to the APS partnership with Head Start, APS will begin to provide SPARK, a preschool program designed to support the kindergarten readiness of 3- and 4-year-olds. Through SPARK, a part-time staff person will provide curriculum and support twice a month in the homes of 25 early learners each year. Using data to demonstrate need and effectiveness, APS will look for funding sources through community partnerships to continue SPARK after ARP-HCY funds are no longer available.

“It’s different to have funding, in addition to the regular McKinney-Vento grant, so it’s a nice ‘problem’ to have. We are really looking at what needs we have, and what we can do better.”
-Shannah Carino, District Homeless Liaison and McKinney-Vento Specialist

Marion County Schools, Alabama

Marion County Schools are leveraging local, state, and federal funds to provide layered supports for students experiencing homelessness, with a focus on basic needs, mental health, and supplemental instruction. In this predominantly rural area, there are fewer service agencies than in urban areas, making school the main provider of basic needs for students experiencing homelessness. After reviewing existing services provided through strong community partnerships, the school district decided to prioritize basic needs as a use of ARP-HCY funds. Marion County Schools have also been intentional about ensuring that students experiencing homelesness have access to all district-provided supports. For example, the mental health coordinator partners closely with the homeless liaison to ensure students experiencing homelessness have access to mental health supports provided to all students. School counselors are points of contact across 10 schools in 5 communities, allowing the homeless liaison to focus on working with community partners. The homeless liaison salary is paid out of the Title I, Part A homeless reservation, and additional counselor time is provided through the school district’s ARP ESSER funds. This layered support makes it possible for the homeless liaison to use her time to go out to schools and connect with community partners.

“You may have heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. That is our approach to providing for our homeless students. We take a personal approach to make sure identified students have the same opportunities as anyone else in our system. ARP-HCY funds have certainly made it possible to help ensure our mission of ‘Changing Children’s Lives’.”
-Kevin Dulaney, Federal Programs Director

Roanoke City Schools, Virginia

The Roanoke City Schools McKinney-Vento Program Coordinator is using ARP-HCY funds to increase program staff capacity. In addition to the coordinator, the program has employed a part-time staff person to provide support. Using ARP-HCY funds, the part-time position has become a full-time Outreach Specialist position to support the work of receiving referrals and determining eligibility of students. ARP-HCY funds also have been used to hire a part-time Family Outreach Specialist position to manage and distribute community donations to students and families, as well as supporting the LEAs work on chronic absenteeism with students experiencing homelessness.

Another focus of Roanoke’s ARP-HCY funding is to support unaccompanied homeless youth. Roanoke City Schools is using funds to support their “Senior Shine and Dine” event to celebrate the graduation and success of seniors identified as experiencing homleessness. ARP-HCY funds are paying for iPad purchases for seniors to work on college applications, FAFSA applications, and other postsecondary planning and transitions. The Program Coordinator is in the process of developing an additional program for seniors that will focus on independent living skills to provide tools for youth in the next stage of their college or career journey. ARP-HCY funds will pay for a school counselor to support the program outside of regular contract hours.

In addition, ARP-HCY funds have made it possible for Roanoke City Schools to hire a part-time licensed clinical social worker to support the creation of the aforementioned independent living skills program. The social worker will provide regular support and professional development to staff who experience secondary trauma from supporting McKinney-Vento students in crisis. The LEA has seen an increase in domestic violence situations as a result of the pandemic, so the social worker also will provide support to conduct an initial assessment of the family and student’s situation, as well as help accessing community organizations to support survivors of domestic violence.

The Program Coordinator will collect data on these initiatives, evaluate their effectiveness, and explore additional funding to sustain them.

“It’s too bad the additional funding is the result of a pandemic, but it’s bringing awareness to all the things we aren’t getting support for, especially with unaccompanied homeless youth. With ARP-HCY funds, I’m finally getting to try things that I’ve always wanted to do during my 19 years as the homeless liaison.”
-Malora Horn, Roanoke City Schools McKinney-Vento Program Coordinator

Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative, Beebe, Arkansas

The Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative in central Arkansas is leading a consortium of 10 school districts to use ARP-HCY funds to hire a systems navigator.The co-op staff met with the state homeless education coordinator, school district superintendents, homeless liaisons, counselors and other district staff members to determine the region’s needs. One emerging theme was the need to create and sustain a systems navigator position. The systems navigator will assist the 10 school districts in establishing community and cross-community partnerships with nonprofit organizations. The navigator also will collaborate with Every Arkansan and Bright Futures, two organizations with which the state education agency is contracting using ARP-HCY funds to develop a statewide rapid response system to meet the immediate needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness. The Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative systems navigator will be a two-year position and will work to create sustainable practices that will continue when ARP-HCY funding has ended.

“We are excited to be a part of this work that we know will lead to more effective and efficient services/care for our children.”
– Leasha Hayes, Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative

Middletown Public Schools, Middletown, Rhode Island

Using ESSER funds, Middletown Public Schools hired a full-time Family Services Coordinator due to the increased numbers of identified students experiencing homelessness, particularly among the multilingual learner population. When ARP-HCY Part I was distributed, the Family Services Coordinator began targeted communication and outreach to families to determine needs. Decisions on the best use of ARP-HCY funds were guided by these weekly communications and check-ins, during which time it became clear that families need support with food and winter clothing. The Family Services Coordinator uses ARP-HCY funds to purchase supermarket and store gift cards so families are able to purchase needed items. These gift cards are purchased in collaboration with the district business office, submitting purchase orders through existing store accounts.

In addition, the Family Services Coordinator determined that families need support with wraparound services. ARP-HCY funds are supporting after school transportation to the Boys and Girls Club for homework support and free meals so students end their days fed and with completed homework. The district is also providing mental health services in school buildings during school hours, in partnership with the community-based organization Newport Mental Health. The Family Services Coordinator hopes to use additional ARP-HCY funds to increase staff training in McKinney-Vento and best practices to support students.

 “I think that the flexibility of this funding has been such a huge help to homeless liaisons. There used to be more regulations on the funding but being able to use the money to help with food, phones, taxis as well as wraparound services has meant that we can be more on the front lines helping families in unconventional ways.”
– Megan Mainzer, Family Services Coordinator

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