The fiscal year 2019 budget process kicked off this week with the release of the President’s FY2019 budget proposal; meanwhile, Congress still hasn’t finalized funding levels for FY2018.

Below we present basic information about the status of the FY2018 and FY2019 federal budgets, proposed funding levels for programs serving children and youth experiencing homelessness, and recommended advocacy steps.

FY2018 Funding: Current Status, Timeline, and Funding for Homeless Programs

Last week’s budget deal included legislation to keep the government funded at FY2017 levels until March 23, 2018. This gives Congress six weeks to wrap up the FY2018 budget  (the 2018-19 school year for most federal education programs).

Earlier in the year, House and Senate subcommittees drafted FY2018 legislation that would fund the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs at the same levels as FY2017.

In addition, the House committee with jurisdiction over housing programs drafted FY2018 legislation that would provide flat funding for HUD Homeless Assistance Programs, while its Senate counterpart drafted legislation that would increase HUD homeless assistance by $71 million.

One item that was finalized in the budget deal was disaster-related funding. The budget package included an extra $25 million for the EHCY program, to support children and youth displaced by disasters; $100 million for higher education institutions in affected areas, with priority given to students who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless as a result of displacement; and up to $75 million to higher education institutions to help defray unexpected expenses associated with enrolling students displaced from affected areas.

FY2018 and FY2019: Child Care and Higher Education Funding Increases

Last week’s budget agreement included overall funding increases for certain domestic priorities, without detailing how that funding will be allocated. Appropriations committees will work out those details over the next two years. For example, the budget deal includes a record $5.8 billion for child care ($2.9 billion for FY18 and $2.9 billion for FY19), including the bipartisan Child Care Development Block Grant program. It also includes $4 billion for higher education ($2 billion for FY18 and $2 billion FY19), for “student-centered programs that aid college completion and affordability, including those that help police officers, teachers and firefighters.”

FY2019 Funding: The President’s Proposal and Next Steps

On February 12, President Trump released his FY2019 budget proposal (the 2019-20 school year for most federal education programs).

The President’s FY2019 budget request makes deep cuts in basic nutrition, housing, and income assistance for millions of Americans below or close to the poverty line. It includes level funding for the EHCY, RHYA, and HUD homeless assistance programs, as well as most early care and education programs.

It is important to keep in mind that the President’s budget proposal is just that: a proposal that communicates the Administration’s priorities. Congress ultimately determines funding levels for individual federal programs, as well as overarching budget issues.

Next Steps: Advocacy for the EHCY and RHYA Programs

We expect that in the next few weeks, Congressional champions for children and youth experiencing homelessness will circulate “Dear Colleague” letters urging appropriators to provide robust FY19 funding for the EHCY and RHYA programs — the only federal programs that are specifically targeted to children and youth experiencing homelessness. The goal of these letters is to show appropriators that there is strong support for the EHCY and RHYA programs. To reach this goal, we’ll need your help in getting as many members as possible to sign these letters.

Take Action: We urge you to communicate with your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative in support of EHCY and RHYA funding. We’ve created a sample letter in Microsoft Word. Download the letter, edit it, and send one version to your U.S. Representative, and one version to both of your U.S. Senators.

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