On December 18, House appropriators unveiled an $81 billion disaster relief spending package that includes:

  • $2.9 billion in emergency assistance funding for schools and colleges, the bulk of which is immediate aid to restart school operations and temporary emergency impact aid for displaced students. Included in the $2.9 billion in education funding is:
    • $25 million in McKinney-Vento funding to help children and youth who are homeless and displaced due to disasters.
    • $200 million for institutions of higher education located in an area affected by a disaster, with a requirement for the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize assistance for college students who are homeless as a result of displacement, and institutions that have sustained extensive damage.

In addition to education funding, the disaster relief bill contains:

  • $650 million for Head Start, for necessary expenses directly related to the consequences of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria.
  • $26.1 billion for Community Development Block Grants

At least 40,000 children and youth are homeless as a result of the 2017 hurricanes alone, and have been enrolled in public schools across the country under the McKinney-Vento Act. The McKinney-Vento Act ensures that homeless children and youth are enrolled in school immediately, and that where possible, they can go back to the same school they attended before the storms, or in which they were enrolled after the storms. These twin protections reduce trauma and loss after disasters. EHCY program also requires that every local educational agency designate a liaison for homeless students. This provides an efficient, existing infrastructure to identify children and youth displaced by disasters, ensure their school access and stability, provide them direct support service, and coordinate with relief and recovery agencies for longer-term assistance.

The House is expected to vote on the disaster relief package this week, either as part of a longer-term measure to keep the government open, or as a stand-alone bill.

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