Public elementary and secondary schools identified and enrolled over 1.5 million children and youth experiencing homelessness in the 2017-2018 school year. For most of these students, school is the safest and most stable part of their lives. School also is often their only safety net, offering food, health and mental health services, caring adults, and the education that is their best hope of escaping homelessness as adults. An estimated additional 1.4 million children under age six experience homelessness, and 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness on their own.

When schools and early learning programs close, the health, safety, education, and well-being of homeless children and youth are jeopardized. Moreover, the lack of a safe and stable place to be, high rates of mobility despite stay-at-home orders, and lack of internet, devices, and transportation, create tremendous barriers to accessing the services and learning opportunities that currently are being offered by schools and early learning programs in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, SchoolHouse Connection conducted a survey of McKinney-Vento Liaisons, homeless service providers, early childhood and post-secondary education organizations, and other non-profits to determine what needs existed at that point in the crisis. 


  • What do children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness need?
  • Why are schools and early learning programs such an important platform for responding to needs?
  • What educational rights and protections are currently in place for students experiencing homelessness?
  • What role do McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons play in the current crisis, and how can the McKinney-Vento system be leveraged to provide emergency support?
  • What do we know about “flexible funding” accessed through McKinney-Vento liaisons?
  • What are the opportunities at the federal, state and district level to use the McKinney-Vento infrastructure to get more resources to young people experiencing homelessness?

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