FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 8, 2021
SchoolHouse Connection Calls on Congress to Prioritize Urgent Support for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness in Federal COVID-19 Relief Stimulus
To date, Congress has not targeted COVID-19 relief funding to the needs of children, youth, and families who are homeless, despite great vulnerability.
Washington, D.C. – Currently, over 1.5 million children and youth are homeless – a number that has likely skyrocketed due to the pandemic and economic crisis and disproportionately impacts students of color, students with disabilities, and students who are English learners. Neither President Biden’s proposed COVID-19 relief package nor the $618 billion proposal from Republican lawmakers directs funding to students experiencing homelessness through the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program (EHCY), which removes barriers for homeless children and youth to enroll, attend, succeed in school and overcome homelessness. While previous COVID-19 packages permitted education funds to be used for homeless students, they did not require it – a break in precedent from prior disasters and the 2009 recovery stimulus. As a result, only 18% of homeless liaisons reported that their school districts were directing education relief dollars to students experiencing homelessness.
In response, SchoolHouse Connection released the following statement:
“As Congress works to pass the next COVID-19 stimulus, lawmakers must prioritize directing funds specifically to support the millions of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness across the country. Previous relief packages failed to earmark funding to the programs and professionals best equipped to identify and support children and youth who are homeless – and already, we’re seeing the devastating consequences of legislative inaction. School districts and community organizations are struggling to identify over 420,000 students experiencing homelessness and ensure they do not fall through the cracks in the absence of federal aid – an alarming fact since high school completion is the best hope for breaking cycles of poverty and homelessness.
We urge Congress to take the necessary action of directing COVID-19 education funding specifically to students experiencing homelessness through the McKinney-Vento Act, and including the bipartisan Emergency Family Stabilization Act (EFSA) in the next relief package. The EFSA would direct flexible funding to frontline organizations uniquely positioned to urgently help children and families in need. If our leaders want to set our country on the path to recovery, they cannot turn a blind eye to millions of children, youth, and families in the process. Ensuring every child, youth, and family is safe and supported is neither a controversial nor partisan issue. Federal leaders must prioritize support for families and children whose health, safety, and long-term stability depend on the action they take now.”
SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and practical assistance in partnership with schools, early childhood programs, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. Our vision is that children and youth experiencing homelessness have full access to quality learning, birth through higher education, so they will never be homeless as adults, and the next generation will never be homeless. www.schoolhouseconnection.org