Early Childhood

Participants in the Sarasota YWCA’s McKinney-Vento program

Homelessness harms young children. Homelessness in early childhood has been found to be associated with delays in language, literacy, and social-emotional development, putting children at risk for later academic problems. The younger and longer a child experiences homelessness, the greater the cumulative toll of negative health outcomes, which can have lifelong effects on the child, the family, and the community.

Early childhood programs can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Yet homelessness creates unique barriers to accessing and participating in early childhood programs. Several federal laws, including the McKinney-Vento Act, the Head Start Act, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, address these barriers with requirements for identification, outreach, enrollment, and coordinated support.

We are currently selecting additional resources to help you learn about the needs of young children experiencing homelessness, and how communities can meet their needs. Stay in touch with us to learn about new resources as we produce and collect them.




  • Deeper Dives for Schools: Practical Strategies to Serve Young Children Experiencing Homelessness
    • This new document series, Deeper Dives for Schools, is created in partnership with David Douglas School District in Oregon. It is designed to provide school and district staff with practical strategies to serve young children experiencing homelessness. Each one-page tip sheet shares strategies on a different aspect of access.
  • Online Training on Homelessness for Head Start and Child Care Providers
    • The Administration for Children and Families has created online training on homelessness intended for professionals in Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care, including early childhood and school-age child care providers, CCDF Lead Agency or designated entity staff, and other key stakeholders. Learn how to identify families experiencing homelessness, conduct community outreach, and much more. Certificates of Completion are provided.
  • Childproofing Checklist for Housing and Homeless Service Providers
    • The quality of the very early years of a child’s life is predictive of lifelong health, educational attainment, and economic security. Unfortunately, many housing and homeless service systems and programs are ill-equipped to provide the resources and support that infants, young children, and school-aged children and their families need. This tool is designed to help housing and homeless service providers make their spaces, practices, and policies safe for children.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Early Childhood Education.
    • Quality early childhood programs can change the trajectory of a child’s health and well-being, and help families experiencing homelessness regain stability. Local educational agency (LEA) McKinney-Vento liaisons and homeless service providers funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are required by law to connect families experiencing homelessness to early childhood programs. The first in a new SHC series, this guide is designed to help LEA liaisons and homeless service providers develop a basic understanding of, and build partnerships with, five key early childhood programs.
  • Increasing Access to PreK and Other Early Childhood Programs for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), the Head Start Program Performance Standards, and the Child Care Development Fund regulations contain new requirements for identifying and supporting young children experiencing homelessness.This webinar, recorded on June 27, 2017, provides a brief overview of these policies as well as practical suggestions for implementing them at the local and state level. School district and state education agency leaders describe the steps that they have taken to put policies into practice, and offer suggestions for adapting and replicating these practices to support our youngest children experiencing homelessness. Download the Powerpoint and sample tools and forms here.
  • Is My Early Childhood Program a McKinney-Vento “Preschool”?
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act to include preschools specifically within the definition of “school of origin.” To determine whether a particular early childhood education program is a “preschool” under ESSA, a helpful reference is the definition ED uses for McKinney-Vento data collection.
  • Preschool to Prevent Homelessness: Research, Rights, and Resources.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act in several important ways to increase access to preschool programs. This page contains frequent questions and answers about preschool and homelessness, and links to resources to help implement the new policies.
  • Three-page brief summarizing the Head Start Program Performance Standards related to homelessness.
    • Head Start provides comprehensive early childhood services for families with youth children. The Head Start Program Performance Standards, updated in September 2016, include many new rules on serving children and families experiencing homelessness.
  • A summary on Federal Child Care Regulations and Homelessness
    • The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal and state partnership program that provides financial assistance to low-income families to access child care, so they can work or attend a job training or educational program. The final CCDF regulations were published in September 2016, and contain new requirements for serving children and families experiencing homelessness.

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