Federal Advocacy & Policy Updates

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Latest Policy News:

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The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (HEASHFY)

On May 7, 2024, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to remove barriers to higher education access for homeless and foster youth. Learn more and take action!

Act Now To Support FY25 Funding for Children & Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Discover the bipartisan efforts in Congress to secure funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s EHCY and RHYA program for FY25. Learn about the critical deadlines and the strong support from both the Senate and House in our latest update.

Congress Passes Final FY2024 Budget

This blog covers the FY2024 budget’s omission of the extension for ARP-HCY funds, affecting support for homeless youth despite bipartisan advocacy efforts. It highlights positive aspects, such as extended McKinney-Vento EHCY funding and the Department of ED’s initiative for extended fund usage.

Support Homeless and Foster Youth in Higher Education: Take Action to Support Two Federal Bills

Postsecondary attainment is increasingly necessary to move out of poverty and homelessness and live a healthy, secure life. However, homeless and foster youth face unique barriers to accessing and completing higher education, including lack of family and supportive adults, histories of neglect, abuse, trauma, mobility, and severe poverty. Two complementary bills will help homeless and foster youth transition successfully to and through higher education, and receive the support they need to complete their degrees and achieve economic independence.

SHC’s 2023 Legislative Priorities:

1. Fiscal Year 2024 Funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program

The McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program is the only federal program that removes barriers to education for children and youth experiencing homelessness. At its current funding level, less than one in five — 19.5% — of local educational agencies receive EHCY subgrants. Adequate funding through the annual appropriations process is necessary to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness are identified and supported to enroll, attend, and succeed in school. 

SHC is advocating for $800 million in the FY24 budget – less than 2% of the K12 federal education budget – to meet the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

2. Remove Barriers to Higher Education for Homeless and Foster Youth

Youth experiencing homelessness and youth who have been in foster care face unique barriers to accessing and completing higher education. Lack of family and support, coupled with histories of neglect and abuse, create roadblocks on their path to and through postsecondary education. Yet higher education is their best opportunity for economic independence and healthier lives.

SHC is advocating for legislation to assist homeless and foster youth to access and succeed in postsecondary education. We anticipate the reintroduction of legislation from the previous Congress, including the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, the Housing for Homeless Students Act, the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act, and the Helping Foster and Homeless Youth Achieve Act.

3. Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA)

Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness are shut out of homeless assistance because they do not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) restrictive definition of homelessness. Despite being recognized as homeless by other federal agencies, and having comparable levels of vulnerability, these children, youth, and families are not eligible to even be assessed for HUD Homeless Assistance.

SHC urges Congress to pass the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA), bipartisan legislation that reforms HUD Homeless Assistance programs by aligning federal definitions of homelessness, allowing children, youth, and families to be seen and served.

SHC’s Public Comments & Statements:

Public Comments
  • In October 2023, SHC submitted a second round of public comments on the draft 2024-2025 FAFSA outlining our concerns with inaacuracies and inconsistencies. > Read SHC’s comments 
  • Comments On Proposed Regulations for the Child Care and Development Fund > Read SHC’s comments
  • Comments On Proposed Regulations for Supporting the Head Start Workforce and Consistent Quality Programming > Read SHC’s comments
  • The decision to prohibit race-conscious admissions policies is an impediment to our mission, and to the realization of our nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all. Overcoming homelessness through education therefore means relentlessly pursuing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in all aspects of our work. > Read SchoolHouse Connection’s statement on the Supreme Court Harvard-UNC Decision on race conscious admissions.
  • SchoolHouse Connection, Convenant House, and the National Network for Youth offered policy recommendations to Congress to consider during the reauthorization of the Farm
    Bill in the 118th Congress. It is essential that community-based organizations serving children and youth are supported by reimbursement of meals and streamlining access to key SNAP benefits authorized in the Farm Bill. > Read our recommendations
  • On April 24, 2022, SchoolHouse Connection, along with Education Law Center, John Burton Advocates for Youth, The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, and The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) Youth Law Center, submitted final comments specific to homeless and foster youth provisions on the 2023-2024 FAFSA to the U.S. Department of Education urging them to implement the provisions as soon as possible. > Read SHC’s comments
  • On November 30, 2021, SchoolHouse Connection submitted recommendations to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ (USICH) for the new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Our recommendations are based on our daily direct interaction with our network, as well as decades of experience witnessing the many ways that previous federal strategic plans have fallen short, or failed outright. It is our hope that in light of the persistent — and often generational — crisis of homelessness, the Biden-Harris Administration will pursue fresh perspectives and new ideas. > Read SHC’s comments
  • Students experiencing homelessness are disciplined in schools at disproportionate rates in comparison to their housed peers, with disproportionalities further exacerbated by race, disability, and sexual identity/orientation. On July 23, 2021, SchoolHouse Connection submitted comments to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, highlighting these inequities, and providing recommendations for positive school discipline practices. > Read SHC’s comments
  • There is nothing ordinary about this Presidential transition. The seismic events of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis, the toxic political divisions, and the long overdue awakening to systemic racism call for new thinking, and bold and decisive action to reflect current realities. This page documents our priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration for the first 100 days and beyond. > Read SHC’s Recommendations
  • On November 9, 2020, we provided comments on the “Proposed Information Collection Activity; Child Care and Development Fund Plan for States/Territories for FFY 2022-24” to the Administration of Children and Families. > Read SHC’s Comments
  • The “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” rule implemented by HUD in 2012 recognized and sought to address the discrimination and housing challenges faced by transgender persons. On September 22, 2020, we submitted comments to HUD in opposition of the Trump Administration’s anti-transgender housing rule. > Read SHC’s Comments
  • The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recently requested input from stakeholders on revising the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. As one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations on child, youth, and family homelessness, SchoolHouse Connection was invited to participate in the first stakeholder call, and also submitted formal written comments. We will continue to advocate for a strategic plan that confronts the realities of child, youth, and family homelessness, centers racial and ethnic equity, and recognizes the core role of early care and education. > Read SHC’s Comments
  • SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) applauds the Department of Education’s decision to study how school districts and schools are using funding authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We urge the Department to include in its study how school districts and schools are using Title I Part A funds for students experiencing homelessness, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). > Read SHC’s Comments
  • On September 4, 2020, we submitted our comments to the National Academy of Medicine on the preliminary COVID-19 vaccine allocation framework from the nation academies. We recommend that the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY) be utilized as a mechanism to find homeless families and youth, and distribute the vaccine to them. > Read SHC’s Comments
Public Statements/Letters
  • SchoolHouse Connection co-signed a letter along with The National Network for Youth, Family Promise, and First Focus on Children to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge regarding support for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. This letter details actions on how to best support children, youth, and families in her new role. > Read the Letter
  • SchoolHouse Connection recognizes the value of statewide assessments as a tool for parents, communities, schools, and systems of education to gain insights into how well students are being served, including factors that might impact achievement. We are also acutely aware that with many students struggling to access virtual classrooms and stay connected consistently, moving forward with traditional statewide end-of-year assessments could unintentionally punish the approximately 1.5 million students experiencing homelessness (now likely higher due to the economic crisis) across the country. In this short statement, we outline our concerns and provide recommendations for the US Department of Education, and state and local educational agencies. > Read SHC’s Statement
  • SchoolHouse Connection strongly condemns January 6th’s violent insurrection and the white supremacy that underlies it. We are deeply concerned about the health of our democracy and the added layers of trauma for children and youth witnessing these events – especially children and youth of color, who are disproportionately suffering from the toll of the pandemic and economic crisis – many of whom are also missing the safety and stability of their schools during distance learning. The fate of our most marginalized children and youth is the fate of this nation. > Read SHC’s Statement
  • We are sickened, saddened, and angered by the virulent racism in our nation. While this racism has been unveiled in horrific ways in recent days, we know it underlies profound historic and current inequities in education, early care, homelessness, and all aspects of our lives. > Overcoming Homelessness Means Fighting Racism

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