At SchoolHouse Connection, we listen closely, then work with practitioners to create tools and resources to meet their needs. SchoolHouse Connection resources, and some created by our partners, are listed below. We also conduct webinars on many of these same topics. If you have an idea for a tool, resource, or webinar, please email us.

Resources are categorized by the following subject areas:

  1. Early Childhood
  2. PreK-12
  3. Higher Education
  4. Housing
  5. Unaccompanied Youth
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How to Contact your McKinney-Vento Liaison

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every local educational agency is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youth. The local educational agency liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and youths enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.

Click HERE to find the contact information of your local homeless education liaison.

Note: This contact information may change frequently due to staff turnover. If you have problems finding the right school district homeless liaison, please contact your state homeless education coordinator.

Overview
  • ZERO TO THREE Journal on Early Childhood Homelessness
    • This issue of the ZERO TO THREE Journal (Vol. 39, No. 4) is dedicated to young children and families experiencing homelessness. SchoolHouse Connection’s own Dr. Grace Whitney, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, is guest editor of the Journal’s March issue, which includes a sampling of policies, practices, challenges, and opportunities at the intersection of homelessness and infant-toddler services. The authors cover topics ranging from early care and early childhood programs to parenting supports, housing, pediatrics, and young families.
  • Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: An Overview
    • This two-page fact sheet summarizes existing data on young children who are homeless and their families, including the impact of homelessness on health, development, early learning, and well-being.
  • One-page summary of access to early learning for children experiencing homelessness, birth to five.
    • This one-pager summarizes access to early learning for children experiencing homelessness, including the following topics: preschool under the McKinney-Vento Act, Head Start and Early Head Start, Child Care Subsidies, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), and support for young children with developmental delays or disabilities.
  • 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 resource features frequent questions and answers about preschool and homelessness, and links to resources to help implement the new policies.
Tip Sheets and Guides
  • Childproofing Checklist for Housing and Homeless Service Providers
    • 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 safe for children, to help promote their health and well-being.
  • Early Care and Education Advocacy: A Tip Sheet for Housing and Homeless Assistance Providers
    • This short document provides basic information to help housing and homeless assistance providers advocate with their families and youth for appropriate educational services, from birth through higher education. The rights and protections outlined here apply to all children and youth experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act.
  • Tip Sheet for Young Parents: Finding Care for My Child
    • Child care can help you reach your educational and career goals to support your family.  It is important to find quality child care that meets your needs, and your child’s needs, and to learn about assistance that is available to you. This tip sheet will help you get started.
  • Guide to Using Sesame Street in Communities’ Resources on Family Homelessness
    • Many different kinds of providers serve children experiencing homelessness, including school district homeless liaisons, early childhood programs, and homeless assistance and housing programs. To help these providers quickly and effectively leverage Sesame Street’s resources in the context of their specific work, SchoolHouse Connection has produced tip sheets organized by provider role.
Law and Policy
  • Federal Child Care Regulations and Homelessness
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published final regulations to implement the Child Care and Development Fund program (CCDF) in September 2016. Here is an explanation and summary of the final Child Care and Development Fund regulations on homelessness.
  • “Preschool” Under the McKinney-Vento Act
    • For many young children experiencing homelessness, remaining in the school of origin provides their only access to preschool; when children move into a new community due to homelessness, enrolling in a local preschool usually is impossible, either because there are no preschool programs available, or those that are available already are full.
  • State Provisions to Help Children Experiencing Homelessness Access Child Care and Preschool
    • Many states have passed laws, regulations and policies to enhance federal protections that help children experiencing homelessness access child care and preschool. This document summarizes those state provisions.
Training and Professional Development
  • Public Service Announcements: Raising Awareness and Reaching Families and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
    • In the midst of the current crisis, the role of schools and early childhood programs has never been more critical – whether remote, hybrid or in person. Schools are required to identify, enroll, and serve homeless children and youth, but distance learning and other COVID-related complications mean it is easier than ever for them to fall through the cracks. It’s vital that families and youth who are homeless know that help is available – that they have educational rights, and know how to exercise them. To help spread the word and give communities a starting place for outreach and identification, SchoolHouse Connection is promoting three public service announcements aimed at reaching youth, families, educators, community organizations, and leaders.
  • Child Care Training: Strengthening Families
    • A training for child care programs in Idaho helps participants identify concrete strategies for promoting protective factors in families experiencing homelessness.
  • Online Training on Homelessness for Head Start and Child Care Providers (Certificate of Completion is provided)
    • This interactive learning series is 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.
Research and Reports
  • The Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report entitled “Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness.” The study collected data from families at the time they were in emergency shelters, followed the families over the next 20 months, and then surveyed them again, collecting information about the family, the parents, and up to two focal children in each family.
Partnerships
  • Deeper Dives for Schools
    • This resource, created in partnership with David Douglas School District in Oregon, is designed to provide schools 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.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Early Childhood Education
    • 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.
  • Responsive Early Education for Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness
    • A new book published by the California Department of Education’s Early Learning and Care Division provides early childhood teachers, administrators, and program staff factual information so that they can create welcoming, inclusive, and strength-based environments that are responsive to the unique needs of young children and families experiencing homelessness. The book provides effective strategies and trauma-informed practices that can be implemented in early childhood programs to support children and their families experiencing homelessness. It also includes authentic vignettes created from interviews with children and families experiencing homelessness across California, in addition to the diverse professionals who serve them.
  • Sesame Street Launches New Trauma Initiative
    • The Sesame trauma initiative features new, bilingual content that presents coping strategies to help children feel safe and become more resilient in a range of situations, and gives adults the tools they need to foster nurturing connections. The initiative also includes professional development resources and simple strategies for parents and community providers.
  • Sesame Street Launches National Initiative on Family Homelessness
    • Sesame Street Workshop launched a national initiative on family homelessness to bring awareness and support to young children and their parents who are homeless, and those who serve them, including early childhood programs, schools, and service providers. Lily, a sweet and resilient 7-year-old muppet whose family experienced homelessness, is featured throughout the new resources, which include a storybook, videos, activities, and materials for providers.
  • The Head Start Program Performance Standards and Homelessness
    • In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued final regulations to implement the Head Start Act. These regulations, known as the Head Start Program Performance Standards, apply to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • Two Briefs on Young Children Experiencing Homelessness – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released two briefs on young children experiencing homelessness. The first brief “Identifying Children Experiencing Homelessness in Early Care and Education” is designed to help understand the challenges states and communities face using data and potential opportunities for strengthening data collected to estimate rates of early childhood homelessness and identify young children experiencing homelessness. The second brief “Facilitating Access to Early Care and Education for Children Experiencing Homelessness” discusses the barriers in accessing ECE among families experiencing homelessness and describes ways in which states and communities support the enrollment of children experiencing homelessness in ECE.
  • ZERO TO THREE Journal on Early Childhood Homelessness
    • This issue of the ZERO TO THREE Journal (Vol. 39, No. 4) is dedicated to young children and families experiencing homelessness. SchoolHouse Connection’s own Dr. Grace Whitney, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, is guest editor of the Journal’s March issue, which includes a sampling of policies, practices, challenges, and opportunities at the intersection of homelessness and infant-toddler services. The authors cover topics ranging from early care and early childhood programs to parenting supports, housing, pediatrics, and young families.
Overview
Tip Sheets and Guides
  • Shine a Light: How Do You Track the Educational Progress of Students Experiencing Homelessness?
    Research shows that education offers the surest path out of homelessness: children in quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school and own homes; without a high school diploma, students are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness later in life; and 99% of the jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education. By more accurately measuring and tracking the educational progress of homeless students, we can improve identification efforts; better recognize and address barriers related to access, participation, and achievement; and measure state and local progress in addressing such barriers.
  • Five Strategies to Help Homeless Youth Transition to College During COVID-19
    The COVID-19 crisis requires McKinney-Vento liaisons and other educators to think creatively about how to carry out their responsibilities to help youth experiencing homelessness transition to higher education. This resource lays out five strategies to help keep the dream of a postsecondary education alive for youth experiencing homelessness, during and beyond these troubled times.
  • Removing Barriers to Financial Aid: Guidance on Verification Non-Filing and Form W-2
    The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released additional guidance in July 2020 that responds to the challenges that many students – especially unaccompanied homeless youth and foster youth – face in obtaining tax documentation for the FAFSA. These students have had difficulty obtaining the Verification of Non-Filing (VNF) and IRS Form W-2. The new ED guidance reminds institutions of other documentation that it is acceptable to complete verification for non-tax filers and extensions filers.
  • 6 Things to Know About Privacy, FERPA, and Homelessness
    The educational success of students experiencing homelessness requires collaboration. Efforts to collaborate, however, must be sensitive both to students’ privacy rights—rights protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)—and to assuring that sharing information about students experiencing homelessness does not create a barrier to their identification, enrollment, or retention in school. This issue brief and (a more concise two-pager) explains what educational information pertaining to homeless students can be shared, with whom, and under what circumstances, consistent with FERPA and the McKinney-Vento Act. The full-length document also provides best practice tips collected from school districts across the country.
  • Awarding and Accepting Partial Credits for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    Helping students graduate from high school also helps prevent future homelessness, as the greatest single risk factor for young adult homelessness is the lack of a high school degree. Developed in partnership with a school counselor, SchoolHouse Connection’s new checklist is designed to help school counselors and registrars calculate, award, and receive partial credits, leading to increased high school graduation and decreased homelessness for youth.
  • Training Resources
    Under federal law (the McKinney-Vento Act), every local educational agency (LEA) is required to designate a liaison for children and youth experiencing homelessness. LEA homeless liaisons have ten specific duties under the law, one of which is to provide professional development and other support to school personnel. These resources are designed for liaisons to use when training school staff – for example, teachers, counselors, bus drivers, and principals.
  • Editable “Know Your Rights” Flyers
    “Know Your Rights” flyers can help get the word out about the rights of students experiencing homelessness, while also helping parents and youth understand how sharing their situation can increase access to and stability in school. We’ve created simple flyers for parents and for unaccompanied youth that can be edited for specific communities. We invite you to download and insert your logo, website, and local contact information.
  • Full Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    Research shows the importance of participation in activity programs in increasing high school graduation and later success in life, particularly for disadvantaged students. Yet homelessness creates significant barriers to participation in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. Fortunately, the ESSA amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act include new policies to remove barriers to participation in extra-curricular activities.
  • Guidelines for Designating LEA-Level and Building-Level McKinney-Vento Liaisons
    Designating school building-level McKinney-Vento contacts can be a highly effective best practice for identifying children and youth who are experiencing homelessness, and ensuring full implementation of the McKinney-Vento Act. However, sometimes roles can become muddled. These guidelines were created in response to a request from a State McKinney-Vento Coordinator who confronted challenges clarifying lines of authority and responsibility in school districts that designate school building-level McKinney-Vento contacts (in addition to the required designation of the school district McKinney-Vento liaison). The guidelines are designed to share the relevant laws. and provide a procedure to help maintain clear roles and responsibilities.
  • How Charter Schools Can Support Students Experiencing HomelessnessAuthored jointly by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and SchoolHouse Connection, this toolkit is intended as a charter school-focused resource that explains the basic legal requirements of the McKinney Vento Act, while highlighting a few examples of best practices from the charter school community.
  • I Want to Go to College: Now What? A Guide for Youth Who are or Were Homeless, or Are at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness
    Published by the U. S. Department of Education, this guide provides information and resources on applying to, paying for, and succeeding in college. It was written specifically for youth who are or were ever homeless, or are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
  • Immigrant Students: How Schools Can Help
    Federal rules on immigrant youth and families are changing rapidly. Our regularly updated brief provides basic information about eligibility for education services, and practical suggestions for schools.
  • Interview Checklists for Supporting School Selection
    These checklists are designed to facilitate open conversations about the school that is in a student’s best interest to attend, emphasizing the importance of parents and youth being fully informed and carefully considering the benefits of school stability prior to changing schools.
  • Making Your School District’s Website a McKinney-Vento Tool
    The McKinney-Vento Act as amended by ESSA requires school district liaisons to ensure that public notice of educational rights is disseminated in “locations frequented by parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth,” in a “manner and form understandable to them.” Today, many families and youth get information from the internet. This makes it important for school district websites to contain information about the McKinney-Vento Act. Is your school district’s website a McKinney-Vento tool? We’ve created a simple guide to help.
  • Meals for Homeless Children and Youth in the Summer
    Summer vacation can be an exciting break, with promises of trips to the beach and hanging out with friends. But for children and youth experiencing homelessness, the unstructured summer months can represent a source of anxiety and the absence of regular access to meals. Here are three ways to connect children, youth, and families with food during the summer months. (Note: parents/caregivers may sometimes be required to pay a small fee.)
  • Positive School Discipline Practices for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    What are the impacts of an out-of-school suspension for students without a home? Where do they spend their day? What do they eat? Who cares for them? This document provides a brief overview of school discipline, shares research on the discipline of students experiencing homelessness, and offers tips for implementing positive school discipline for students experiencing homelessness. It also shares stories and suggestions from SchoolHouse Connection Young Leaders who experienced homelessness.
  • Quick Guide for Counselors Working with Students Experiencing Homelessness
    School counseling staff provide important support to students experiencing homelessness. The Every Student Succeeds Act recognized this role by adding requirements that counselors advise students experiencing homelessness and improve their readiness for college. SchoolHouse Connection’s new quick guide, written by a school counselor, provides practical tips and strategies for supporting students experiencing homelessness, helping meet their basic needs, and planning for graduation.
  • Sample Form Letter to Determine the Independent Student Status of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
    Another ESSA amendment to the McKinney-Vento Act requires school district liaisons to inform unaccompanied homeless youth of their status as independent students for financial aid (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA) and help them obtain verification of that status. To help implement this policy, we’ve prepared a sample form letter to determine the independent student status of unaccompanied homeless youth for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Microsoft Word). This form letter may be edited as appropriate for your school district, institution of higher education, shelter, transitional living program, or street outreach program.
  • Supporting Children and Youth Displaced by Disasters: Five Key Policies for Schools
    School can be a place of stability, normalcy and support for children and youth who are displaced by disasters. This brief summarizes five key policies and provides quick tips for their implementation.
  • Supporting the Attendance of Students Experiencing Homelessness
    Students experiencing homelessness are chronically absent from school at a rate at least twice that of the overall student population, and significantly more often than their housed, low-income peers. This brief shares strategies that schools, districts, and communities are implementing to help ensure that students experiencing homelessness are in school, every day.
  • Tips for Teachers & Staff: How to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness
    For many students experiencing homelessness, school is the only place of stability in their lives. Teachers play a crucial role in creating a classroom environment that is safe and supportive for all students, especially those who are highly mobile and have experienced the trauma that often accompanies homelessness. Here, we provide information and strategies that teachers and support staff can use to support the educational success of students experiencing homelessness.
  • Tools to Identify Students Experiencing Homelessness
    Here are some tools and resources to assist in the identification of homeless students.
  • Transportation for Students in Foster Care: A Legal and Practical Reference ToolStudents in foster care move frequently. They move when they are first brought into care, and caseworkers may change children’s placements multiple times over their time in care. However, students in foster care should not have to change schools every time their foster placement is changed. This two-page brief reviews requirements for child welfare agencies and educational agencies; provides considerations in developing foster care transportation procedures; and includes links to sample transportation guidelines and procedures.
Law and Policy
Training and Professional Development
  • Public Service Announcements: Raising Awareness and Reaching Families and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
    • In the midst of the current crisis, the role of schools and early childhood programs has never been more critical – whether remote, hybrid or in person. Schools are required to identify, enroll, and serve homeless children and youth, but distance learning and other COVID-related complications mean it is easier than ever for them to fall through the cracks. It’s vital that families and youth who are homeless know that help is available – that they have educational rights, and know how to exercise them. To help spread the word and give communities a starting place for outreach and identification, SchoolHouse Connection is promoting three public service announcements aimed at reaching youth, families, educators, community organizations, and leaders.
  • ESSA PowerPoint Training Template
    • We are pleased to share our ESSA PowerPoint template. All are welcome to download, edit and use this template, which includes the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, research, a pop quiz, an interactive exercise, sound clips from youth, and resources.
  • ESSA Tool: Assessing the Capacity of LEA Homeless Liaisons
    • Of all of the amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act made by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new requirement for local educational agency (LEA) liaisons to be “able to carry out” ten specific duties in the law has the potential to have the greatest impact on children and youth who are experiencing homelessness. But what does it mean for a liaison to be able to carry out his or her legal duties? And how can local educational agencies determine where improvements must be made? We developed a simple tool to help LEAs quickly identify and prioritize areas where greater capacity is needed to carry out the law.
  • Selected Resources For Continued Professional Development On Child And Youth Homelessness And Education
Research and Reports
  • Charter Schools and Students Experiencing Homelessness: Practices and Recommendations for Success
    • There are approximately 1.5 million K-12 students and an additional 1.4 million children under the age of six experiencing homelessness across the United States. While many of these students attend traditional public schools, a growing number, at least 60,000, are enrolled in charter schools. Charter schools are independently-operated public schools that have additional flexibility to design classrooms that meet their students’ academic and other needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.” The purpose of this report is to begin to paint a clearer picture of the experiences and outcomes of students experiencing homelessness enrolled in charter schools. In this document, we offer basic information about the McKinney-Vento Act, case studies highlighting best practices across charter schools and networks, and key questions for charter school educators, administrators, authorizers, support staff, advocates, and others. We hope charter schools and partners will use this document as a starting point for conversations and action within your schools, networks, communities, and states.
  • Lost in the Masked Shuffle & Virtual Void: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amidst the Pandemic
    • Schools provide safety, stability, and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness, as well as the education that is necessary to avoid homelessness as adults. However, in order to benefit from targeted educational protections and services, children and youth must first be identified as experiencing homelessness. New survey data suggests that an estimated 420,000 fewer children and youth experiencing homelessness have been identified and enrolled by schools so far this school year – despite evidence of increasing homelessness, and despite proactive identification efforts by many school district homeless liaisons. This decrease in homeless student enrollment, combined with previous estimates of under-identification, means that as many as 1.4 million children and youth experiencing homelessness may be un-identified and unsupported by their school during the pandemic. Survey responses also demonstrate significant unmet basic needs, as well as the failure of federal CARES Act dollars to reach children and youth experiencing homelessness. If our nation is ever to recover from COVID-19, we must increase outreach to and support for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness through public schools and early childhood programs, and prioritize their education and well-being in all public systems of care.
  • Report Highlights FAFSA Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
    • This report provides insights into the challenges that unaccompanied homeless youth face in accessing federal financial aid. As indicated by the title of the report – a quote from a young adult who experienced homelessness in high school and in college – many young people are keenly aware of the role of higher education in improving their lives. Yet without financial aid, these young people cannot access post-secondary education.
Partnerships
  • Deeper Dives for Schools
    • This resource, created in partnership with David Douglas School District in Oregon, is designed to provide schools 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.

Public Service Announcements: Raising Awareness and Reaching Families and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Prior to the pandemic, public schools and early childhood programs reported the highest number of children and youth experiencing homelessness ever recorded – 1.5 million children preK-12, and 1.4 million under age six. These numbers are skyrocketing because of the economic crisis and family stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of the current crisis, the role of schools and early childhood programs has never been more critical – whether remote, hybrid or in person. Schools are required to identify, enroll, and serve homeless children and youth, but distance learning and other COVID-related complications mean it is easier than ever for them to fall through the cracks. It’s vital that families and youth who are homeless know that help is available – that they have educational rights, and know how to exercise them.

To help spread the word and give communities a starting place for outreach and identification, SchoolHouse Connection is promoting three public service announcements aimed at reaching youth, families, educators, community organizations, and leaders.

PSA #1 – Do You See the Child Experiencing Homelessness?
PSA #2 – Elmo’s Message to Children and Parents Experiencing Homelessness
PSA #3 – Dez Says: Don’t Let Homelessness Stop Your Education, Find Help

>> Click Here for All Three PSAs

Overview
  • Youth Homelessness and Higher Education: An Overview
    • Postsecondary attainment is increasingly necessary to move out of poverty and homelessness and live a healthy, productive life. Yet youth experiencing homelessness face barriers in transitioning from secondary to postsecondary education, as well as barriers to financial aid, college retention, and college completion. This fact sheet summarizes existing data and information on youth homelessness and higher education.
Tip Sheets and Guides
  • Tips for Preparing for an Independent Determination Financial Aid Interview
    • If you do not have, or cannot obtain, documentation from those individuals, your financial aid administrator is required to make a determination of your status as an unaccompanied homeless youth. The financial aid administrator’s determination may be based on a documented interview with you. This resource is designed to help unaccompanied homeless youth prepare for documented interviews with the financial aid administrator.
  • Supporting Homeless and Foster Youth During the Holidays Amidst COVID-19
    • Earlier this year, SchoolHouse Connection, Youth Villages, and Juvenile Law Center created an editable toolkit for colleges and universities to help inform decisions to support students with experience with homelessness and foster care during COVID-19. As the semester comes to a close and the holidays are quickly approaching, we offer six tips for institutions to support these students.
  • Back to College and Training 2020: An Editable Toolkit for Assisting Youth with Experience in Foster Care or Homelessness. This toolkit from the Juvenile Law Center, SchoolHouse Connection, and Youth Villages contains the following elements:
    • Tips for Advocates and supporters of young people so advocates can provide assistance to students as they plan for the coming year.
    • Tips for Higher Education Institutions so institutions and their support staff can develop effective policies that are responsive to the needs of young people with experience in foster care and homelessness.
    • A list of general resources for students.
  • Removing Barriers to Financial Aid: Guidance on Verification Non-Filing and Form W-2
    The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released additional guidance in July 2020 that responds to the challenges that many students – especially unaccompanied homeless youth and foster youth – face in obtaining tax documentation for the FAFSA. These students have had difficulty obtaining the Verification of Non-Filing (VNF) and IRS Form W-2. The new ED guidance reminds institutions of other documentation that it is acceptable to complete verification for non-tax filers and extensions filers.
  • Tips for Homeless Higher Education Liaisons
    • Many institutions of higher education are designating liaisons for students experiencing homelessness. Similar to their counterparts in K-12 education, homeless higher education liaisons support students by connecting them to available resources on and off-campus, and removing barriers to their college retention and success. This tip sheet provides basic strategies for higher education liaisons.
  • 5 Guides to Help Homeless College Students in California
    • These guides examine California’s three public higher education institutions to highlight existing resources and methods to support homeless and low-income students. These five guides are targeted to Homeless and Foster Youth Liaisons and other higher education professionals who work directly with these students. Below is a video introducing the series.
  • Tips for Helping Homeless Youth Succeed in College
    • This SchoolHouse Connection series is focused on helping youth experiencing homelessness succeed in college. We highlight best practices for supporting these students from institutions across the country.
  • Tip Sheet for Young People: Part I – Understanding Student Loans: The Basics
    • For most youth and young adults, student loans are a necessary part of college, even when a financial aid package includes scholarships. In choosing loans and loan amounts, there are many options and factors to consider that can have significant long-term impacts. This tip sheet provides some important information to keep in mind as you prepare to pay for college.
  • Tip Sheet for Young People: Part II – Understanding Student Loans: Repayment
    •  This tip sheet provides some important information to keep in mind as you plan for loan repayment. 
Law and Policy
  • Housing Support for Homeless and Foster Youth: Implementing AB 1228
    • This brief examines some of the most common challenges in implementing AB 1228 and provides tips for addressing them. It was informed by interviews with eight California State University (CSU), three University of California (UC) institutions, and two California Community Colleges (CCC).
  • State Laws on High School Graduation for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) places great emphasis on high school graduation for students experiencing homelessness. This document summarizes state laws that complement these federal requirements.
  • State Laws on Higher Education and Homelessness
    • State legislatures have been actively supporting college students experiencing homelessness over the past few years. State legislation can provide a variety of critical supports, including homeless liaisons on college campuses, housing priority and/or housing support programs, enrollment, tuition and/or fee waivers, and in-state tuition. This is a summary of existing state laws, including new legislation SchoolHouse Connection helped pass with partners in Nevada and Tennessee in 2019.
Partnerships
  • Five Strategies to Help Homeless Youth Transition to College During COVID-19
    • The COVID-19 crisis requires McKinney-Vento liaisons and other educators to think creatively about how to carry out their responsibilities to help youth experiencing homelessness transition to higher education. Here are five strategies to help keep the dream of a postsecondary education alive for youth experiencing homelessness, during and beyond these troubled times.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Higher Education
    • This second “Pathways to Partnership” series is designed to help LEA homeless liaisons and homeless service providers to 1) gain a basic understanding of some important higher education programs, including those programs that have specific requirements on homelessness; and 2) create and sustain higher education partnerships. Connecting youth and young adults who experience homelessness with the appropriate resources will help pave a smoother transition to and through postsecondary education.
  • Early Care and Education Advocacy: A Tip Sheet for Housing and Homeless Assistance Providers
    • This short document provides basic information to help housing and homeless assistance providers advocate with their families and youth for appropriate educational services, from birth through higher education. The rights and protections outlined here apply to all children and youth experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act.

Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Youth Homelessness

The Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filled out each year a student is applying for college. For youth who are experiencing homelessness, or who are at risk of homelessness, and who are on their own, applying for the FAFSA can be complex. This page provides comprehensive FAFSA-related resources to help youth, K-12 educators, homeless service providers, and higher education professionals understand, prepare, and fill out the FAFSA.

 

Housing

Tip Sheets and Guides
  • Childproofing Checklist for Housing and Homeless Service Providers
    • 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 safe for children, to help promote their health and well-being.
  • Early Care and Education Advocacy: A Tip Sheet for Housing and Homeless Assistance Providers
    • This short document provides basic information to help housing and homeless assistance providers advocate with their families and youth for appropriate educational services, from birth through higher education. The rights and protections outlined here apply to all children and youth experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act.
Law and Policy
  • State Laws on Minor Consent for Housing and Related Services

    • Several state legislatures have recognized that unaccompanied homeless youth under age 18 need legal rights to access housing, shelter, and other basic services. States can provide critical protections, such as empowering minors experiencing homelessness to enter into contracts and to consent to shelter services. Below is a summary of such state laws, including new legislation SchoolHouse Connection helped pass with partners in Utah in 2019.

Tip Sheets and Guides
  • Planning for College Breaks: Advice for Youth, from Youth
    • For students experiencing homelessness, on-campus housing is critical. While on-campus housing provides stability during the fall and spring semester, unfortunately, many on-campus housing options close for winter and summer break. This can leave you scrounging for alternative housing options to fill those gaps until the campus housing opens again. As you look through the housing options available and make plans for breaks when your campus is closed, here are some important things to consider.
  • Applying to College
    • It is never too early to prepare to apply for college. Regardless of when you begin, a good first step is to reach out to a high school counselor or a McKinney-Vento liaison to ask about your high school’s graduation requirements and steps you can take to prepare to apply for college. This resource provides an overview of items to consider when applying to college.
  • Immigrant Students: How Schools Can Help
    • Federal rules on immigrant youth and families are changing rapidly. Our regularly updated brief provides basic information about eligibility for education services, and practical suggestions for schools.
  • Quick Guide for Counselors Working with Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • School counseling staff provide important support to students experiencing homelessness. The Every Student Succeeds Act recognized this role by adding requirements that counselors advise students experiencing homelessness and improve their readiness for college. SchoolHouse Connection’s new quick guide, written by a school counselor, provides practical tips and strategies for supporting students experiencing homelessness, helping meet their basic needs, and planning for graduation.
  • Sample Form Letter to Determine the Independent Student Status of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
    • Another ESSA amendment to the McKinney-Vento Act requires school district liaisons to inform unaccompanied homeless youth of their status as independent students for financial aid (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA) and help them obtain verification of that status. To help implement this policy, we’ve prepared a sample form letter to determine the independent student status of unaccompanied homeless youth for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Microsoft Word). This form letter may be edited as appropriate for your school district, institution of higher education, shelter, transitional living program, or street outreach program.
  • Tip Sheet for Young People: Leases
    • A lease is a contract you sign to rent an apartment or house. You should always get a written lease. Read the lease before you sign it. If you have any questions about the lease, take pictures of every page and talk about it with someone you trust before you sign it. It is your right to read, understand, and agree with the lease before you sign it. What should you look for in the lease?
Law and Policy
  • Minor Consent to Routine Medical Care
    • This document includes states with laws allowing minors, including unaccompanied homeless minors, to consent for routine health care. It does not address state laws that empower minors to consent for substance abuse treatment, mental health care, treatment for contagious diseases or reproductive health.
  • State Laws on Minor Consent for Housing and Related Services
    • Several state legislatures have recognized that unaccompanied homeless youth under age 18 need legal rights to access housing, shelter, and other basic services. States can provide critical protections, such as empowering minors experiencing homelessness to enter into contracts and to consent to shelter services. Below is a summary of such state laws, including new legislation SchoolHouse Connection helped pass with partners in Utah in 2019.

  • State Laws to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness
    • State policy change is an important strategy to address youth homelessness, since many of the laws that most directly impact youth experiencing homelessness – the rights of minors, health care, housing, employment, education, and child welfare – fall within the purview of state legislatures. This publication provides information on four categories of state laws that support youth experiencing homelessness.
Research and Reports
  • Report Highlights FAFSA Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
    • This report provides insights into the challenges that unaccompanied homeless youth face in accessing federal financial aid. As indicated by the title of the report – a quote from a young adult who experienced homelessness in high school and in college – many young people are keenly aware of the role of higher education in improving their lives. Yet without financial aid, these young people cannot access post-secondary education.

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