Federal Advocacy & Policy UpdatesA strong voice for effective and responsive federal policy.
SHC’s 2020 Legislative Priorities:
#1 Inclusion of Homeless Children, Youth, and Families in COVID-19 Relief Legislation
#2 Programs that Provide Targeted Support for Homeless Children and Youth.
#3 The Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
#4 Reforming HUD Homeless Assistance for Children, Youth, and Families.
#5 Housing for Homeless Students Act.
#6 School-Housing Partnerships for Homeless Children and Youth.
SHC’s Public Comments
- On November 9, 2020, we provided comments on the “Proposed Information Collection Activity; Child Care and Development Fund Plan for States/Territories for FFY 2022-24” to the Administration of Children and Families. > Read SHC’s Comments
- The “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” rule implemented by HUD in 2012 recognized and sought to address the discrimination and housing challenges faced by transgender persons. On September 22, 2020, we submitted comments to HUD in opposition of the Trump Administration’s anti-transgender housing rule. > Read SHC’s Comments
- The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recently requested input from stakeholders on revising the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. As one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations on child, youth, and family homelessness, SchoolHouse Connection was invited to participate in the first stakeholder call, and also submitted formal written comments. We will continue to advocate for a strategic plan that confronts the realities of child, youth, and family homelessness, centers racial and ethnic equity, and recognizes the core role of early care and education. > Read SHC’s Comments
- SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) applauds the Department of Education’s decision to study how school districts and schools are using funding authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We urge the Department to include in its study how school districts and schools are using Title I Part A funds for students experiencing homelessness, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). > Read SHC’s Comments
- On September 4, 2020, we submitted our comments to the National Academy of Medicine on the preliminary COVID-19 vaccine allocation framework from the nation academies. We recommend that the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY) be utilized as a mechanism to find homeless families and youth, and distribute the vaccine to them. > Read SHC’s Comments
COVID-19 & Homelessness
October 6, 2020
On Thursday, October 1st, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act, a $2.2 billion stimulus package responding to the coronavirus pandemic. While this legislation provides important resources, it falls short of the kind of assistance that is needed to meet the education, health, and housing-related needs of children and youth who experience homelessness.
August 8, 2020
On Friday, August 7, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Emergency Family Stabilization Act, H.R. 7950 (EFSA).
This legislation is the companion bill to S. 3923, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 10 by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME). This legislation provides flexible funding directly to community-based organizations to meet the needs of children, families, and unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 19, 2020
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!
May 12, 2020
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.
May 11, 2020
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.
April 14, 2020
- $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, 2020
- 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.
April 8, 2020
- 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, 2020
- On April 6, 2020, 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, along with information on other COVID-19 federal waivers.
March 26, 2020
Update: On Friday, March 27, the third major coronavirus legislation was enacted.
- On Wednesday, March 25, the U.S. Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), H.R. 748. The legislation now moves on to the U.S. House of Representatives, where a vote is scheduled for Friday, March 27. 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.
March 19, 2020
- 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. 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.
November 19, 2020 – Senate Releases FY2021 Spending Bills
March 2, 2020 – SHC Submits Public Comment on Proposed Study of Federal Education Funding
February 10, 2020 – President’s FY2021 Budget Threatens Educational Protections for Homeless Children and Youth
December 19, 2019 – Congress Passes Final FY2020 Federal Budget
June 19, 2019 – House Approves Funding Increase for Homeless Children and Youth
April 1, 2019 – 68 U.S. Representatives Sign Bipartisan Letter for EHCY-RHYA Funding; Take Action for FY20 Funding
March 22, 2019 – Action Needed by March 26: Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
February 19, 2019 – FY2019 Federal Funding Bill Signed Into Law
September 27, 2018 – FY2019 Funding Bill Passes, Signed Into Law
September 17, 2018 – House-Senate Agreement Increases FY2019 Funding for Homeless Education, Early Care
June 29, 2018 – Senate Bill Would Increase Funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
April 9, 2018 – Breaking News: Action Needed by April 13 to Support FY2019 Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
March 23, 2018 – Historic Funding Increases for Homeless Children and Youth in FY18 Bill
March 20, 2018 – Record Number of US Reps sign EHCY/RHYA Funding Letter
March 8, 2018 – Breaking News: Action Needed by March 14th to Support Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
February 12, 2018 – Federal Budget Update: FY2018 and FY2019
February 9, 2018 – Disaster Funding for Homeless Students in Budget Deal
December 22, 2017 – Programs that Provide Targeted Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
December 22, 2017 – Disaster Assistance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
December 19, 2017 – House Appropriations bill includes $25 million in McKinney-Vento funding to help homeless children displaced due to disasters
May 24, 2017 – President’s FY2018 Budget Proposal and Homelessness
May 8, 2017 – Funding Wins in Final FY17 Budget, But FY2018 Uncertain
May 1, 2017 – FY2017 Budget Bill Includes Increased Funding for Homeless Programs
March 9, 2017 – Budget Cuts and Homeless Children and Youth
January 25, 2017 – ESSA Regulations on Hold, Congress Debates Budget
November 14, 2019
- U.S. Senate Bipartisan Resolution Recognizes November 2019 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month”
- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was joined by eleven other U.S. Senators in sponsoring a bipartisan resolution recognizing November 2019 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month.” It is the first resolution to recognize both child and youth homelessness, from infancy to young adulthood. The resolution includes information about the extent and impact of child and youth homelessness, and supports the efforts of businesses, organizations, educators, and volunteers to meet the needs of homeless children and youth.
August 10, 2018
- Career and Technical Education Bill Signed into Law
- On July 31, 2018, the President signed a new CTE law that contains multiple provisions to improve access and success for youth experiencing homelessness.
November 4, 2017
- Bipartisan Legislation for Education and Employment Introduced
- On November 3, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the “Preparing Homeless Youth for Education and Employment Act,” bipartisan legislation to provide access to dropout prevention and college and career counseling services to homeless youth.
June 23, 2017
- House Passes Career and Technical Education Bill
- On June 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed “The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” HR 2353, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
March 13, 2017
- Education Department Releases New ESSA Template
- On March 13, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a new template for states to use in developing their state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
March 9, 2017
- Senate Votes to Rescind ESSA Regulations
- The U.S. Senate voted today to rescind ESSA regulations related to accountability and state plans by a vote of 50-49 . The measure now will move to the President’s desk for signature. This action will not affect the ESSA amendments made to the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, which are in statute, and are in effect now.
March 8, 2017
- New Department of Education Guidance on the McKinney-Vento Act
- On Friday March 3, the U.S. Department of Education issued updated Non-Regulatory Guidance on the McKinney-Vento Act. The update consists of the addition of three questions: J-10 through J-12.
February 10, 2017
- ESSA Regulations Remain in Question, But McKinney-Vento Clarity Emerges
- The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act went into effect on October 1, 2016, yet the fate of subsequent regulations on state plans and accountability under Title I Part A remains in question. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on February 7 to prevent these regulations from taking effect. A Senate resolution is expected soon.
February 7, 2017
- Betsy DeVos Comments on the Needs of Students Experiencing Homelessness and in Foster Care
- Today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
February 7, 2017
- House Passes Resolution to Prevent Implementation of ESSA Accountability Regulations
- On February 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution (HR 57) introduced by Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) that would prevent recently-issued regulations on state plans and accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from taking effect. If enacted, this resolution (adopted pursuant to the Congressional Review Act) also would prevent future administrations from promulgating similar rules. It is unclear when a similar resolution will be taken up in the Senate.
April 17, 2018
- Action Needed: Child Care for Families Experiencing Homelessness
- There is a critical opportunity to increase access to child care through the state planning process. States must submit their Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State Plan for 2019-2021 by June 30, 2018. With a historic $2.37 billion increase in FY2018 CCDF funding – the largest increase in child care funding of all time – it is especially important to find out how you can weigh in to improve child care for families experiencing homelessness.
September 14, 2017
- The Child Care for Working Families Act (S.1806/H.R. 3773).
- Summary: The Child Care for Working Families Act is the Democratic proposal on child care and early learning. Under the legislation, no family under 150% of state median income would pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. The bill also supports universal access to preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year old.
- Current Status: The Child Care for Working Families Act was introduced on September 14, 2017. As of December 2017, it had 29 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate, and 108 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
March 13, 2019
- Higher Education Legislation for Homeless and Foster Youth Introduced
- On March 13, 2019, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to remove barriers to higher education access and success caused by homelessness and foster care.
December 1, 2017
- Fixing the FAFSA for Homeless Youth: Congress Begins HEA Reauthorization with Testimony from a SHC Leader
- On November 27, the 115th Congress began the reauthorization process for the Higher Education Act (HEA) with a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The HELP Committee hearing featured testimony from Elaine Williams, a SchoolHouse Connection Young Leader and remarkable advocate for homeless youth in Richmond, VA. Learn about the hearing, the current status of HEA reauthorization, and the critical link between education, employment, and homelessness.
September 13, 2017
- Legislation Introduced to Help Homeless and Foster Youth in Higher Education
- On 9/12/2017, two bills were introduced in Congress to help homeless and foster youth transition successfully to higher education and receive the financial aid and other supports they need to complete their degrees.
April 22, 2017
- Proposed 2018-2019 FAFSA Would Help Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
- On April 17, the U.S. Department of Education published a draft of the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for public comment. The draft FAFSA may be found here.
March 7, 2017
- New State Laws Empower Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- State legislatures across the country are passing laws that empower youth experiencing homelessness to access housing, health care, higher education, and vital documents. In our January 27 newsletter, we wrote about Wyoming’s HB 159, which allows unaccompanied minors experiencing homelessness to obtain their own birth certificates, consent for housing and services, get a job, buy a car, and sign up for college.
April 4, 2019
- Bipartisan Legislation to Help Homeless Children and Youth Reintroduced
- On April 1, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 2001) was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA). This bipartisan legislation corrects long-standing flaws in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance for children, youth, and families. Get the facts about the Homeless Children and Youth Act, including frequently asked questions, the full text of the legislation, and a list of supporters.
July 24, 2018
- A Big Win: House Committee Passes the Homeless Children and Youth Act
- On July 24, 2018, the House Financial Services Committee passed the bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act, H.R. 1511. The legislation, co-sponsored by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), may now be considered by the full House of Representatives. A bipartisan Senate companion bill, S. 611, is led by US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
June 8, 2018
- House Hearing on Homeless Children and Youth
- On June 6, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing to review the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511). A key topic of the hearing was how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of homelessness creates barriers to assisting children, youth, and families who experience homelessness.
October 13, 2017
- School-Housing Partnership Legislation Introduced
- On October 12, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation to incentivize housing authorities and school districts to work together to address and prevent family homelessness. The Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration (AHEAD) Act (S. 1949) authorizes $150 million for a new demonstration program to be jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
June 6, 2017
- New Video Adds Urgency to HUD Homeless Assistance Reform
- A powerful new film from HEAR US premiered on June 6 at a Congressional briefing sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Center on Housing & Child Welfare, and SchoolHouse Connection. Both the film and the Congressional briefing make a strong case for the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611), bipartisan legislation that addresses long-standing flaws in federal homeless policy, and makes it easier for communities to help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
March 27, 2017
- New Direction for Federal Homeless Policy: The Homeless Children and Youth Act
- Last week, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives. This important bipartisan legislation addresses two long-standing flaws in federal homeless policy: 1) arbitrary eligibility criteria that exclude some of the most vulnerable children, youth, and families from HUD Homeless Assistance; and 2) federal mandates that have forced communities to prioritize programs for certain populations and program models, regardless of local needs.
March 15, 2017
- Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Help Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
- On March 14, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611) was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. This bi-partisan legislation would make it easier for local communities to help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, and help put an end to the cycle of homelessness.
October 24, 2018
- Newly Enacted Opioid Bill Could Help Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
- On Wednesday, October 24, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This sweeping legislation contains many provisions that could help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as provisions to help all children and youth who experience trauma.
April 30, 2018
- Bipartisan Opioid Bill Includes Child, Youth, and Family Provisions
- On Tuesday, April 24, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This comprehensive bipartisan bill includes more than 40 proposals from 38 different senators aimed at combating the opioid crisis. Among those proposals are efforts to address the impact of the opioid crisis on children, youth, and families.
Annual Legislative Summaries
2019 Legislative Recap and 2020 Outlook
Many bills on child, youth, and family homelessness were introduced in the first session of the 116th Congress, and will continue to make their way through the legislative process next year. We’ve briefly summarized eight of the bills that impact children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness most directly, starting with SchoolHouse Connection’s top legislative priorities.
2018 Legislative Highlights
2018 was a momentous year for our work to ensure that local, state, and federal systems recognize and prioritize the needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
2017 Legislative Wrap Up and Looking Ahead to 2018
The first session of the 115th Congress has come to a close. Many bills on child, youth, and family homelessness were introduced in 2017, and will continue to make their way through the legislative process next year. While issues like tax, immigration, entitlement spending, and welfare reform may have significant impacts on homeless children and youth, we’ve summarized twelve of the bills that affect children and youth experiencing homelessness most directly, starting with SchoolHouse Connection’s top legislative priorities.
2016 Legislative Wrap Up and Looking Ahead to 2017
Welcome to our first legislative and policy post. For our first update, we’ll take a quick look back at 2016, and a longer look forward to 2017.