Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Topic Editor: Evelyn Shaw

Related pages:

Educational Rights of Children Who are Homeless

Aligning Early Childhood Programs To Serve Children Experiencing Homelessness (2016) National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - Compares preschool, Head Start, and child care policies for children experiencing homelessness. It can be used to help educators, service providers, and advocates understand changes due to the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new Head Start Program Performance Standards, and the new child care regulations.

Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance (July 27, 2016) U.S. Department of Education - Clarifies requirements of Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which was re-authorized in December 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The McKinney-Vento Act includes, among other things, new or changed requirements focused on preschool-aged homeless children. To accompany this guidance, the Department also released Supporting the Success of Homeless Children and Youths: A Fact Sheet and Tips (July 27, 2016), which provides an overview of the unique needs of homeless students, a summary of the protections for homeless children under the McKinney-Vento Act, and recommendations for how educators can help.

PDF Improving Homeless Families' Access to Child Care: CCDF State Guide (2015) National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Ounce of Prevention Fund - The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) includes a number of provisions designed to improve access to high-quality early care and education for children experiencing homelessness. This guide provides a summary of these provisions; information on best practices for serving homeless families and children; common barriers and challenges; and a summary of opportunities available through the state CCDF Plan to address barriers and improve access. A companion Homelessness Self-Assessment tool is available to assist assist states in assessing their current policies and practices and identifying options to better support vulnerable children. It is recommended that states review the self-assessment tool before reading the guide.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) requires states to have policies and procedures in place that ensure timely assessment, appropriate services, and continuity of services for children with disabilities who are homeless. IDEA 2004 specifically requires states to comply with the WWW: McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which establishes protections and educational rights for all children experiencing homelessness, including children with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Education has issued the following guidance documents to inform states about serving children experiencing homelessness and highly mobile children with disabilities under IDEA:

McKinney-Vento and IDEA: Part B and C - Information for Part C Coordinators and Part B State Directors (October 8, 2015) - This webinar, hosted by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) highlighted information provided in the following briefs:

PDF: Access to Pre-K Education Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (February 2010) Education Law Center - This policy brief provides an overview of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and discusses policies that can help increase the number of homeless children in pre-k programs.

PDF: The Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Education Rights of Children and Youth in Homeless Situations (Updated 2009) National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - This FAQ discusses education for homeless children and includes a section on preschool education and a section on special education and related services.

PDF: Homeless and Special Education Administrative Collaboration: Recommendations (2008) Project Forum at NASDSE - This proceedings document describes challenges faced by administrators who support homeless education under the McKinney-Vento Act and those who provide early intervention and special education services for children with disabilities who are homeless. It includes recommendations on developing policies and practices for: (1) expediting enrollment and provision of services; and (2) coordinating programs and services.

PDF: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004: Provisions for Children and Youth with Disabilities Who Experience Homelessness (2007) National Center for Homeless Education - This policy brief discusses provisions in IDEA 2004 for children who are homeless.

Services for Children & Families Who are Homeless

Joint Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness (October 31, 2016) U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education - Provides research, recommendations, and examples of how early childhood and housing providers can collaborate to provide safe, stable, and nurturing environments for pregnant women and families with young children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Learn more here.

Expanding Early Care and Education for Homeless Children - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - This set of resources is being developed to help strengthen the ability of early care and education providers to serve young children experiencing homelessness. Some of the resources include:

A Qualitative Assessment of Parental Preschool Choices and Challenges Among Families Experiencing Homelessness: Policy and Practice Implications (March 2016) U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - This report discusses key issues identified by families experiencing homelessness that had the greatest influence on their children's preschool enrollment and provides recommendations to make it easier for families experiencing homelessness to enroll their young children in preschool..

Access to Early Childhood Programs for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Survey Report (March 2015) National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - This report discusses findings from a national survey on the barriers to accessing early childhood services among young children and families experiencing homelessness and strategies for addressing those barriers.

PDF Early Care and Education for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness (Fall 2013) National Center for Homeless Education & the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - This brief suggests best practices to facilitate collaboration between schools, service provider agencies, and early childhood programs to increase the enrollment of and provision of services to families with young children experiencing homelessness.

WWW: Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children - An Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in partnership with The National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ZERO TO THREE

Impacts of Homelessness

Research findings show that very young children without a stable home are more likely to have developmental delays and higher rates of internalizing and externalizing behaviors than other children. Additionally, most homeless children do not receive the services they need to address their medical, developmental and mental health needs. The following resources discuss the impacts of homelessness and provide recommendations to help address these issues.

National Centers and Associations

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
  • IDEAs that Work