Supporting Homeless Children and Youth in COVID-19 Relief
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, family and youth homelessness was at record levels. The coronavirus outbreak has created even more barriers to their survival, and to accessing the programs and services they need to regain their footing. Further, the current economic crisis is creating new waves of youth and family homelessness. Now more than ever, these children and youth need our attention. Yet, children and youth experiencing homelessness have been largely left out of previous coronavirus legislation.
In response, SchoolHouse Connection is advocating for the inclusion of the following provisions to d in the next COVID-19 relief package.
Emergency Family Stabilization Act (H.R. 7950/S. 3923)
- Bipartisan legislation that creates a new emergency funding stream for community-based organizations (including schools) through the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
- Provides direct, flexible, dedicated funding to meet the unique needs of families, children, and youth experiencing homelessness under the broader definition of homeless which is utilized by the Department of Education.
The Emergency Family Stabilization Act (EFSA) has been introduced in both the US House and US Senate (H.R. 7950/S. 3923). The bill’s authors seek cosponsors to signal broad support to respective party leadership.
The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program
- Previous COVID-19 relief legislation permitted use of funds to support students experiencing homelessness, but did not require funds to be directed to these students.
- As a result, the majority of states have reported that they have not been directing these funds towards homeless students.
- EHCY is the only federal education program that removes barriers to school enrollment, attendance, and success caused by homelessness. Without dedicated funding for EHCY, many homeless students will not be identified and connected to school. At least $500 million is needed to help schools identify children and youth experiencing homelessness and meet their educational and related needs.
While neither the HEROES Act (House Democrat proposal) nor the HEALS Act (Senate Republican proposal) include dedicated EHCY dollars, the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (S. 4112, the Senate Democrat proposal) does include $500 million for the EHCY program.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Program
- Previous coronavirus relief legislation provided $25 million in supplemental funding for the RHYA program. However, there is still tremendous unmet need for RHYA services, and fewer shelter beds than before the pandemic.
- The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program holistically serves young people experiencing homelessness by building relationships with youth, meeting their immediate needs, providing short and long-term residential services, and conducting outreach efforts to move youth out of homelessness. At least $300 million is needed for RHYA programs to provide these life-saving services.
Neither the HEROES Act (House Democrat proposal) nor the HEALS Act (Senate Republican proposal) include supplemental funding for the RHYA program.
Removing Barriers to Stimulus Payments for Homeless Youth
- Many unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness or from foster care cannot access stimulus payments because their parents have claimed them as dependents, or they may not have filed tax returns in previous fiscal years, and so may be unknown to the IRS.
SHC is advocating for unaccompanied homeless youth to be considered eligible individuals, so they can access these payments.