The U.S. Department of Education recently released its updated Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles. The report compiles data from multiple sources to provide information on the extent of early childhood homelessness in every state and nationally, as well as the availability of federally-funded early childhood education for young children experiencing homelessness across the United States.  

  • According to the report, in 2017–2018, there were 1,455,537, or one-in-16, children under six years old who experienced homelessness. This is an 11% increase from the previous year — and the same percentage increase as reported for preK-12 students experiencing homelessness in the 2017-2018 school year. In total, six percent of all children under age six were experiencing homelessness.
  • While the number of children under age six experiencing homelessness has increased, the percentage who participate in federally-funded early childhood programs has not. In 2018, about nine percent of children under age six experiencing homelessness (127,2277 children) were enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start, or programs funded with McKinney-Vento subgrants. This rate does not include state and locally funded early childhood programs.
  • The report also includes national and state data on the percentage of families experiencing a “high housing cost burden” (defined as spending 30 percent or more of monthly income on housing expenses), and the percentage of young children under age six with no parent in the labor force in the United States.

Take Action

  1. Share the report with state and local early childhood partners, and housing and homelessness partners, to raise awareness of and take action on early childhood homelessness.
  2. Use the report to develop local estimates of the prevalence of early childhood homelessness, as well as the percentage participating in quality early childhood programming, to enhance collective efforts to identify and remove barriers to quality early childhood programs.
  3. Train early childhood programs, homeless service providers, and school district personnel on the needs of young children experiencing homelessness.

Training Tools and Resources

  • Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: An Overview
    • This two-page fact sheet summarizes existing data on young children who are homeless and their families, including the impact of homelessness on health, development, early learning, and well-being.
  • One-page summary of access to early learning for children experiencing homelessness, birth to five.
    • This one-pager summarizes access to early learning for children experiencing homelessness, including the following topic: preschool under the McKinney-Vento Act, Head Start and Early Head Start, Child Care Subsidies, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), and support for young children with developmental delays or disabilities.
  • Early Care and Education Advocacy: A Tip Sheet for Housing and Homeless Assistance Providers
    • This short document provides basic information to help housing and homeless assistance providers advocate with their families and youth for appropriate educational services, from birth through higher education. The rights and protections outlined here apply to all children and youth experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act.
  • Guide to Using Sesame Street in Communities’ Resources on Family Homelessness
    • Sesame Street in Communities has produced free, bilingual resources for children and families experiencing homelessness and the providers who serve them. To help providers quickly begin to use Sesame Street content in the context of their specific work, SchoolHouse Connection produced brief suggestions, organized by provider role. 
  • Deeper Dives for Schools: Practical Strategies to Serve Young Children Experiencing Homelessness
    • This new document series was created in partnership with David Douglas School District in Oregon. It is designed to provide school and district staff with practical strategies to serve young children experiencing homelessness. Each one-page tip sheet shares strategies on a different aspect of access.
  • Online Training on Homelessness for Head Start and Child Care Providers
    • The Administration for Children and Families has created online training on homelessness intended for professionals in Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care, including early childhood and school-age child care providers, CCDF Lead Agency or designated entity staff, and other key stakeholders. Learn how to identify families experiencing homelessness, conduct community outreach, and much more. Certificates of Completion are provided.
  • Childproofing Checklist for Housing and Homeless Service Providers
    • The quality of the very early years of a child’s life is predictive of lifelong health, educational attainment, and economic security. Unfortunately, many housing and homeless service systems and programs are ill-equipped to provide the resources and support that infants, young children, and school-aged children and their families need. This tool is designed to help housing and homeless service providers make their spaces, practices, and policies safe for children.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Early Childhood Education
    • Quality early childhood programs can change the trajectory of a child’s health and well-being, and help families experiencing homelessness regain stability. Local educational agency (LEA) McKinney-Vento liaisons and homeless service providers funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are required by law to connect families experiencing homelessness to early childhood programs. This guide is designed to help LEA liaisons and homeless service providers develop a basic understanding of, and build partnerships with, five key early childhood programs.
  • Is My Early Childhood Program a McKinney-Vento “Preschool”?
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act to include preschools specifically within the definition of “school of origin.” To determine whether a particular early childhood education program is a “preschool” under ESSA, a helpful reference is the definition ED uses for McKinney-Vento data collection.

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