May 19 - Bipartisan Group of U.S. Reps and U.S. Senators Call for Support for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Bipartisan letters were sent this week by Members of Congress to House and Senate leadership requesting increased funding for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness in the next COVID-19 relief legislation that Congress approves. The House letter was led by U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Danny K. Davis (D-IL); the Senate letter was led by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

The letters request specific support through the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program, Trafficking Prevention, and a new Family Stabilization Fund through the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Now more than ever, these children and youth need our attention. Yet, they have been largely left out of previous coronavirus legislation, including the CARES Act and the HEROES Act. In order to prevent further harm, dedicated resources are needed through the programs and systems that are best positioned to immediately help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, and ensure their long-term stability. Ask your Members of Congress to support children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness today! Learn more

May 12 - Support Homeless and Trafficked Children, Youth, and Families in the Next COVID Relief Bill

U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) are circulating a bipartisan “Dear Colleague Letter” to House leadership requesting support for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and for survivors of human trafficking in the next coronavirus relief package. Learn more

May 11 - Joint Statement of Education and Civil Rights Organizations on Equitable Education During COVID-19

Signed by over 50 organizations, this statement provides promising practices and recommendations to school administrators, teachers, parents, education and civil rights advocates, and policymakers who are working hard to educate and care for America’s students in this unprecedented time of crisis. It focuses on five important areas requiring attention to ensure student success: distance learning and digital access, delivery of school meals, instruction for students with disabilities, instruction for students experiencing homelessness, and combatting discrimination based on race and national origin, including for English learners. Learn more

April 14 - Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and Homeless Students

$3 billion in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds. The application requires states to describe the strategies used to serve disadvantaged populations, which explicitly includes students experiencing homelessness, as well as foster care youth, English learners, children with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, and low-income students. Given the many urgent needs related to COVID-19, it is unlikely that Governors’ offices will prioritize the needs of students experiencing homelessness without specific advocacy. Learn more, and download our new state education leader checklist to share with your SEA leaders, partners in the Governor’s office, and other advocates, to help explain why some of these funds should be targeted specifically to meet the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

April 10 - Emergency Financial Aid Grants through the CARES Act

Over $6 billion to institutions of higher education for emergency financial aid grants, to be provided directly to students for expenses related to disruptions in education caused by COVID-19, including course materials and technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare. The guidance from ED does not instruct institutions on how to provide emergency financial aid to students, but does encourage leaders to prioritize those students with the greatest need. Find out how much each institution received, and how to advocate for youth experiencing homelessness and from foster care to be prioritized for assistance. Learn more.

April 8 - “Phase Four” Coronavirus Advocacy Priorities for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Congress recently passed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), H.R. 748. Yet lawmakers already are at work on a fourth major legislative package (“Phase Four”) to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The CARES Act provided significant new resources for education, early care, housing, nutrition, and services. However, those resources are insufficiently targeted to one of the most mobile, vulnerable, and hidden populations: children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. 

To prevent lasting harm to children, youth, and families – and to prevent adult homelessness – SchoolHouse Connection urges Congress to include specific supports through efficient, existing service-delivery systems and programs in the next coronavirus legislative package.

April 6 - Education Waivers Related to Homelessness + Other COVID-19 Federal Waivers

On Monday, April 6, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced several funding flexibilities to help states and local educational agencies (LEAs) respond to COVID-19 and school closures. Here are more details.

March 27 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748)

On Friday, March 27, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), H.R. 748. This $2 trillion package includes a wide range of funding and policy measures to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including to address the early care, education, and emergency housing needs of children, youth, and families. A summary of these provisions is provided here. Additional emergency aid bills are expected in future months.

March 18 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)

On Wednesday, March 18, President Trump signed into law “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201). The legislation guarantees free coronavirus testing, secures paid emergency leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, strengthens food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding to states. 

Food

  • Allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP during this crisis.
  • Allows the Department of Agriculture to issue nationwide school meal waivers during the emergency, which will eliminate paperwork for states and help more schools quickly adopt and utilize flexibilities.
  • Provides $500 million to provide access to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the emergency.
  • Provides $400 million to the Emergency Food Assistance Program to help food banks meet increased demand.

Income/Paid Leave

  • Provides emergency paid leave for workers of 2/3 their average monthly earnings (capped at $4,000) for each month (up to 3 total months) in which they must take off 14 or more days from work because they: have COVID-19; are quarantined at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official; are caring for a person with COVID-19 or quarantined; or are caring for a child or other person unable to care for themselves due to a COVID-19 related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care program. Benefits can be retroactive back to January 19, 2020. Applications will be taken online, by phone, or mail, through the Social Security Administration.
  • Provides $1 billion to states to process unemployment insurance (UI) claims (and requires employers to inform laid-off workers of their potential UI eligibility) and to help pay UI in states with at least a 10% increase in unemployment. It also assures full federal funding for extended UI benefits in states with more than 10% unemployment.
  • Requires all employers to provide an additional two weeks sick leave immediately, which can be used when a child’s school is closed, employer is closed, or the employee or family member is quarantined. Construction employees can receive sick pay based on the hours they worked for multiple contractors.

 

Another measure, still in development, would address broader economic and emergency needs, including funding and policy related to early childhood, K-12, higher education, housing, and homelessness assistance. SHC is deeply involved and advocating strongly for policies and funding to protect the health, safety, education, and well-being of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. 

Specifically, we are requesting:

  • At least $300 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY), with flexible uses of funds to meet the emergent, temporary housing, education, health, safety, and transportation needs of homeless children and youth whose schools have closed
  • Increased early childhood and child care support for children and families experiencing homelessness
  • Aid to college students to access to food, housing, health care, and child care, as well as devices and connection to the internet
  • Emergency shelter, eviction prevention, and other housing assistance

In addition, we are supporting the request of the National Network for Youth for:

  • At least $128 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program. Funding should bypass the usual competitive grant process, and be distributed to existing grantees, to help them provide temporary housing and health care to youth and young adults.
  • At least $22 million for the Service Connection for Youth on the Streets. Funding should bypass the usual competitive grant process, and be distributed to existing grantees based on demonstrated need related to COVID-19 outbreaks.

SchoolHouse Connection urges that all COVID-19 responses – local, state, and federal – proactively incorporate outreach to and services for homeless families and unaccompa­nied youth, including those who are staying in “hidden” homeless situations. These families and youth are highly mobile, extremely vulnerable, and unlikely to benefit from initiatives that are predicated on a stable and safe home environment, consistent internet access, or reliable transportation.

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