Prior to the pandemic, public schools and early childhood programs reported the highest number of children and youth experiencing homelessness ever recorded – 1.5 million children preK-12, and 1.4 million under age six. These numbers are skyrocketing because of the economic crisis and family stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the midst of the current crisis, the role of schools and early childhood programs has never been more critical – whether remote, hybrid or in person. Schools are required to identify, enroll, and serve homeless children and youth, but distance learning and other COVID-related complications mean it is easier than ever for them to fall through the cracks. It’s vital that families and youth who are homeless know that help is available – that they have educational rights, and know how to exercise them.
To help spread the word and give communities a starting place for outreach and identification, SchoolHouse Connection is promoting three public service announcements aimed at reaching youth, families, educators, community organizations, and leaders.
PSA #1 – Do You See the Child Experiencing Homelessness?
This PSA (1:24 minutes) is targeted to educators and the broader community. It explains the very basics about child and youth homelessness – that they exist, that it is important to look closer to help identify and assist them, and that everyone has a role to play. The PSA leads viewers to “Let’s Educate Every Child,” a webpage where parents, youth, educators, and community members can find practical resources.
PSA #2 – Elmo’s Message to Children and Parents Experiencing Homelessness
This PSA (1:05 minutes) is targeted to parents and children experiencing homelessness. Elmo shares what his dad told him about children who don’t have a home of their own, that school makes kids and monsters smart and strong, and that help is available. The PSA also leads viewers to “Let’s Educate Every Child,” a webpage where parents, youth, educators, and community members can find practical resources.
PSA #3 – Dez Says: Don’t Let Homelessness Stop Your Education, Find Help
This PSA (50 seconds) is targeted to youth experiencing homelessness themselves. In it, Dez, a formerly homeless youth who is now in college, reflects on her experiences of homelessness and lets other youth know that they deserve an education, and can find help at school. The PSA leads viewers to “I Deserve an Education” webpage where youth will find materials written by youth, for youth, including information on how to get help.
- To download the video/PSA, click HERE.
- You can also access the PSA via YouTube: https://youtu.be/-cPu05d2Fz8
- SHC’s Youth Connection Hub houses the PSA and contains more information and resources for youth, at ideserveaneducation.org
- We are relying on our partner and allies to help spread the word as widely as possible to youth – or youth homelessness-focused organizations. Using this toolkit, we are asking you to amplify this PSA on your digital channels and to your networks.