SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and practical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth.

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POLICY UPDATES


House Passes Updated COVID-19 Relief Legislation

On Thursday, October 1st, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act, a $2.2 billion stimulus package responding to the coronavirus pandemic. SchoolHouse Connection urges readers to take action today to ensure that these measures are included in any final coronavirus relief package.

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Emergency Legislation for Homeless Children, Youth, and Families Introduced

On Friday, August 7, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Emergency Family Stabilization Act, H.R. 7950 (EFSA).
This legislation is the companion bill to S. 3923, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 10 by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME). This legislation provides flexible funding directly to community-based organizations to meet the needs of children, families, and unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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NEW RESOURCES


Public Service Announcements: Raising Awareness and Reaching Families and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

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. 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.

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Tips for Preparing for an Independent Determination Financial Aid Interview

If you do not have, or cannot obtain, documentation from those individuals, your financial aid administrator is required to make a determination of your status as an unaccompanied homeless youth. The financial aid administrator’s determination may be based on a documented interview with you. This resource is designed to help unaccompanied homeless youth prepare for documented interviews with the financial aid administrator.

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GUEST PERSPECTIVES


Connect, Share, Learn: How North Carolina Approaches Child Care During a Pandemic

This blog is written by Marsha Basloe, President of Child Care Services Association. “One strategy I would recommend to others working in early childhood is to connect regularly with peers. In North Carolina, we have a call every two weeks with early childhood partners across the state: child care administrators, child care health consultants, Head Start directors, our Smart Start agencies here in North Carolina, and others. We share our challenges and brainstorm potential solutions.”

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The Littlest Things Can Make the Biggest Impact

Cynthia A. Núñez, a Social Worker at Lewiston Independent School District in Idaho wanted to do more for families who were facing food insecurity during the pandemic. Their district created “Grab N Go” meals for families during the week but that didn’t seem enough. Read on to find out what Cynthia did to lift not only lift the families’ spirits but also her own.

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Q & A FROM OUR INBOXES

What USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) rules are applicable as we return to school this year?

Answer: At the start of school closures in the spring, FNS waived the requirement to serve school meals in a congregate setting; allowed delivery of school meals; and waived meal time requirements. Parents and guardians also were permitted to pick up or receive meals...

Can an LEA deny a McKinney-Vento student enrollment in a learning model (distance vs. in-person vs. hybrid) if the LEA has reached capacity in the desired learning model? For example, a family was not able to make the enrollment choice by the LEA’s deadline due to homelessness, or a parent changes her mind after a few weeks.

Answer: There is specific language in the McKinney-Vento Act that addresses this question. First: “C) IMMEDIATE ENROLLMENT- (i) IN GENERAL.-- The school selected in accordance with this paragraph shall immediately enroll the homeless child or youth, even if the child...

We have an unaccompanied homeless youth staying with us. We are trying to help him enroll in community college. The college said that he should fill out the FAFSA and ask his mother to fill out her portion. If she refuses, they will set up an interview to assess if he qualifies as homeless. Is this right?

Answer: No. The student should not ask his mother to complete the FAFSA.  He qualifies as an unaccompanied homeless youth and is independent for the FAFSA. If he cannot produce verification from a liaison or shelter, then the financial aid administrator (FAA) at his...

My transportation director is trying to put a mileage limit on how far we transport our McKinney Vento students. Does the McKinney-Vento Act permit a blanket mileage limit for school of origin transportation?

Answer: No it does not. The McKinney-Vento Act requires LEAs to provide transportation to the school of origin at the request of a parent or guardian or, for unaccompanied youth, at the McKinney-Vento liaison’s request. 42 USC 11432(g)(1)(J)(iii). Transportation...

Can an LEA reserve Title I-A funds only for transportation and/or only for the liaison, and reserve nothing for comparable services?

Answer: No. The Title I homeless set-aside requires the provision of comparable services. 20 U.S.C. 6313(c)(3) The homeless set-aside is required of all LEAs that get Title IA funds. Comparable services are required as part of that set-aside. Additional set-aside...

Early Childhood

Infants are at greater risk of living in homeless shelters than any other age group in the United States. Early childhood programs prevent the harmful life-long effects of homelessness on education, health and well-being.

PreK - 12

In the 2017-18 school year, public schools identified more than 1.5 million homeless students. Schools provide basic needs, caring adults, stability, normalcy, and the skills to avoid homelessness as adults.

Higher Education

The majority of well-paying jobs created today require education beyond high school. Post-secondary attainment is increasingly necessary to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and live a healthy, productive life.

Unaccompanied Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people experiencing homelessness who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness each year.

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How to Contact your McKinney-Vento Liaison

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every local educational agency is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youth. The local educational agency liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and youths enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.

Click HERE to find the contact information of your local homeless education liaison.

Note: This contact information may change frequently due to staff turnover. If you have problems finding the right school district homeless liaison, please contact your state homeless education coordinator.

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