About SchoolHouse Connection

SchoolHouse Connection is a national organization promoting success for children and youth experiencing homelessness, from birth through higher education. We engage in strategic advocacy and provide technical assistance in partnership with early care and education professionals (including school district homeless liaisons and state homeless education coordinators), young people, service providers, advocates, and local communities.

Our History

SchoolHouse Connection was founded by Barbara Duffield and Patricia Julianelle, the nation’s leading experts on the early care and education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. For the past twenty years, we have ushered to passage critical policies and programs for children and youth experiencing homelessness, and provided extensive technical assistance on these policies, including:

  • The McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act;
  • The Head Start Act and Program Performance Standards;
  • The Higher Education Act and FAFSA rules;
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
  • The Child Care and Development Fund;
  • State laws increasing protections and services for unaccompanied homeless youth; and
  • Housing and homeless services initiatives, including school-housing partnerships for unaccompanied homeless youth.

Our Advocacy Principles

  • Education is essential. Access to education, from early childhood through post-secondary, gives children and youth the tools to end their homelessness and achieve their dreams.
  • Grassroots approach. Change must be rooted in the realities of local communities. We listen and learn, then advocate and implement.
  • Youth leadership. Young people are the experts on their experiences, needs and strengths. We must accept their guidance and follow their lead.
  • Child development. The lack of housing, good nutrition, health care and other basic needs damages childhood development and has lifelong impacts on health and well-being. The developmental needs of children and youth must be central to all advocacy, program design, outcome measures, and policy.
  • Prevention must be a priority. We will not solve adult homelessness until the complex realities and comprehensive needs of children and youth take a front seat in federal, state, and local homelessness policy. Intervening early is a key to better life outcomes and preventing future homelessness.

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