Congress recently passed emergency funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, but it is only beginning to consider yearly funding for federal programs through the annual appropriations process.
This year, advocacy during the annual funding process is especially critical, as schools and community-based organizations continue to struggle to meet the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness that existed prior to the pandemic, and that has only worsened in its wake.
One important opportunity for appropriations advocacy is a “Dear Colleague Letter.” “Dear Colleague Letters” are requests from some members of Congress to other members of Congress, asking them to show support for certain federal programs. The number of Members who sign the letter indicates how much support the programs have, and can persuade leaders of the Appropriations Committees to increase funding.
Currently, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Don Bacon (R-NE), are circulating a bipartisan “Dear Colleague letter” in support of FY2022 funding increases for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA program).
TAKE ACTION NOW
Please contact your U.S. Representative now and urge them to sign on to this letter. The deadline for sign-ons is April 26, 2021. *For more information, or for assistance contacting your U.S. Representative, please contact Alleanne Anderson.*
Step #1: Locate the email address of your U.S. Representative’s education staff through this directory.
Step #2: Personalize and localize this email, including your city/state. Please also download a copy of the Dear Colleague Letter, and attach it to your email.
I urge Congressperson [INSERT LAST NAME] to sign on to the Yarmuth/Davis/Bacon Dear Colleague letter for FY22 funding for homeless children and youth programs: The McKinney Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program is the only federal education program that removes barriers to school enrollment, attendance, and success caused by homelessness, however, only 24% of local educational agencies receive an EHCY subgrant at its current funding level. Similarly, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs prevent trafficking, identify survivors, and provide services to runaway, homeless, and disconnected youth, yet only 25% of applicants currently receive funding. [ADD STATISTICS OR STORIES DEMONSTRATING LOCAL AND/OR STATE NEEDS.] Investing in a young person’s life will enable them to avoid chronic homelessness, intergenerational cycles of poverty, and pervasive instances of trauma. I, therefore, urge you to sign on to the attached Dear Colleague letter, and support increases for EHCY and RHYA programs in the FY22 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.