On Saturday, March 23rd, Congress passed the final FY2024 budget package.

Despite our best attempts – and the strong bipartisan advocacy of 32 U.S. Senators led by U.S. Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Manchin (D-WV), and Sinema (I-AZ) – the package does not extend the obligation deadline for the American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY funds). 

Fierce opposition from some lawmakers to any provision related to pandemic aid, coupled with a chaotic and rushed legislative process, resulted in this proposal being left out of the agreement. 

In addition, the midnight deadline meant that no votes could be taken on amendments that would actually pass, because that would have required the bill to be sent back to the House, which would have caused a government shutdown.  

This is a deeply disappointing outcome.

It means that state and local educational agencies – many of whom have not prioritized ARP-HCY funds or have faced administrative challenges in using these funds – will scramble to meet an arbitrary deadline at a time when child and youth homelessness is worse than it was during the pandemic.  

We know that many of you took part in advocacy to urge your Members of Congress to support the ARP-HCY extension. That advocacy mattered, and will continue to matter as we pivot to the FY2025 budget and the continuing need to educate policymakers on the importance of increased dedicated funding for students experiencing homelessness.

The final FY2024 package does contain some helpful provisions that resulted from our collective advocacy, including:

  • An additional year of availability for FY2023 and FY2024 McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) funding. This longer runway for EHCY may help some states focus more time and energy on using ARP-HCY funds. However, it will not benefit the four out of five local educational agencies (LEAs) who do not receive EHCY funding due to the low national appropriations level.
  • Requirements for the U.S. Department of Education to provide greater oversight of and transparency on Title I Part A reservations of funds for children and youth experiencing homelessness. More robust utilization of the Title I Part A reservation for homeless students may help some LEAs sustain some ARP-HCY programming.
  • Requirements for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop (and report to Congress) a plan to lead and coordinate efforts to provide holistic services to homeless children, youth, and families to break the cycle of homelessness through a two-generational approach, including identifying gaps in resources.

In addition to these provisions, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently announced a process for state education agencies (SEAs) to apply for more time to spend ARP-HCY funds that have been obligated by the September 30, 2024 deadline. Our advocacy also was instrumental in that decision. We urge all SEAs to apply for extended liquidation to help ensure that ARP-HCY funds are maximized to support students experiencing homelessness, and we offer our support in that application process.

SHC will continue to advocate for greater investment and greater flexibility in funding to support students experiencing homelessness because the simple fact is that without specific, targeted, and flexible funding to identify students experiencing homelessness and remove barriers to their enrollment and attendance, some of our nation’s most vulnerable students will be deprived of the education that continues to be their surest path to a brighter future.

Child and Youth Homelessness Provisions in the Final FY2024 Budget

ED Statutory Language

Provided further, That funds provided by Public Law 117–328 and this Act for subpart 6 B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act shall be available for expenditure by educational agencies and institutions for an additional fiscal year following the succeeding fiscal year provided by subsection 421(b)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act.

ED Report Language

Students Experiencing Homelessness.—The Committee continues to be concerned by the challenges faced by students experiencing homelessness and the continued lack of compliance by LEAs with requirements intended to ensure such students receive necessary amounts required to be reserved under section 1113(c)(3)(A) of the ESEA for a wide variety of services, including those not ordinarily provided with title I–A funds to other students served by title I–A programs such as all or part of the homeless liaison’s salary, education-related fees, and other necessary items or services. The Department has taken important steps by recently revising its monitoring protocol and planning to work with SEAs to ensure they provide guidance on coordination between the LEA’s title I and McKinney-Vento staff and provide training on methods for determining required set-aside amounts. The Committee looks forward to seeing the changes that result from these and other efforts and directs the Department to report in its fiscal year 2025 CJ the specific State policy changes resulting from these efforts. In addition, the Department should widely disseminate specific State policy changes resulting from monitoring findings and recommendations that produce more collaborative and transparent approaches to the determination of set-aside amounts under such section providing necessary resources to fulfill needs assessments conducted for students experiencing homelessness to meet State challenging academic standards and effectively take advantage of educational Opportunities.

In addition, as was noted in the explanatory statement accompanying last year’s appropriations act, more must be done to improve transparency on amounts reserved by LEAs under section 1113(c)(3)(A). The Committee understands the Department is planning to analyze the variation of per-homeless-pupil amounts across LEAs within a State and take other steps to improve the quality of reported data. However, this must be accompanied with actions to provide transparency on amounts reserved and spent with funds available under such section, including effective technical assistance and support being provided to title I SEA and LEA leaders on the wide variety of services supported by these funds, implementation of an adequate needs assessment, and determination of a sufficient reservation under such section. The Committee requests a briefing on actions taken and planned on these issues not later than 45 days after enactment of this act.

Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Report Language

Child, Youth, and Family Homelessness.—The Committee is concerned about the impact of homelessness on the wellbeing and development of children, youth, and families, including the instability and overcrowding that accompany child, youth, and family homelessness. In light of this, the Committee urges ACF to assess the current state of child, youth, and family homelessness, including the strengths, barriers, and opportunities across ACF and HHS to provide two-generation services to end the cycle of homelessness. In particular, the Committee urges ACF to develop a plan to lead and coordinate efforts to provide holistic services to homeless children, youth, and families to break the cycle of homelessness, including by identifying existing resources and gaps. The Committee directs ACF to provide a report to Congress outlining progress on these efforts not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this act.

Emergency Relief for Foster Youth.—The Committee urges ACF to establish a demonstration program to provide emergency relief, including clothes and basic necessities, to youth entering the foster care system and improve pre-placement services offered by foster care stabilization agencies. Additionally, the Committee continues to be concerned by the high rates of homelessness among children who age-out of the foster care system. The Committee encourages HHS to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative programs that effectively serve vulnerable populations of youth transitioning out of the foster care system.

Preventing Youth Homelessness.—The Committee includes $3,000,000 for a demonstration program to identify and implement strategies and services for youth between ages 12 and 26 in order to prevent homelessness, including strategies designed to serve youth and young adult populations with a high likelihood of imminently experiencing homelessness, housing instability, or other forms of victimization  as human trafficking to include individuals transitioning out of foster care, the juvenile justice system, or a residential behavioral health system. Funds shall be made available to State agencies, tribes, counties, cities, or other unit of local government for demonstration grants to provide primary prevention services for youth at risk of homelessness and implement or improve cross-system collaboration with key partners within the community that serve youth at risk of homelessness. Grantees shall show collaboration with youth with lived expertise in project design and implementation, including establishment of local youth advisory boards. The Committee requests a briefing 1 year after award of such grants on the initial findings of this demonstration program. Further, the Committee notes that this demonstration program is in addition to other, ongoing Family and Youth Services Bureau initiatives.

Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth Program

The Committee recommendation includes $125,283,000 for the Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth program. This program supports the Basic Centers program, which provides temporary shelter, counseling, and after-care services to runaway and homeless youth under age 18 and their families; the Transitional Living Program, which provides longer-term shelter and services for older youth; and a national toll-free runaway and homeless youth crisis hotline. The Committee continues to support the ability of grantees to provide prevention services such as counseling and case management, regardless of their enrollment in residential services. The Committee urges ACF to advise grantees that they are not required to enroll youth in shelter or residential services, nor require the young person to physically travel to the grantee’s location in order for an at-risk youth to receive prevention and supportive services.

The Committee continues to encourage the program to notify applicants if grant applications are successful at least 30 days before the grant begins or no less than 30 days before an existing grant is set to end.

The Committee again strongly urges the program to ensure that service delivery and staff training comprehensively address the individual strengths and needs of youth, as well as language-appropriate, gender-appropriate interventions that are culturally sensitive and respectful of the complex social identities of youth. The Committee strongly believes that no runaway youth or homeless youth should be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in whole or in part under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, based on any of the conditions outlined in this paragraph.

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