By Levi Bohanan, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Today, the U.S. Department of Education approved the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) State Plans for 15 states. These state plans represent commitments to utilizing the $800 million in funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) designated to identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness and connecting them to wrap around services.
“During the pandemic, students experiencing homelessness faced truly unthinkable challenges without a safe place to call home, access to internet, or other critical services that students have relied on to learn during the pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “With our students back in the classroom, it’s more vital than ever that we quickly identify students experiencing homelessness and get them the resources and support they need to get a quality education. I fought hard to make sure the American Rescue Plan included dedicated funding for students experiencing homelessness and I’m so glad to see my home state of Washington using these resources to help ensure students experiencing homelessness—including immigrant and refugee students—can thrive in the classroom.”
“In Alaska and around the country, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn increased the strain on our families and the need for services. Too many kids have left their homes, been pushed out of their homes, with many of them to escape a dangerous situation. These kids are worrying about where to sleep at night, how they’re going to eat dinner, and if they’re going to be safe,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I am committed to ensuring that these kids, no matter the trauma and the challenges that they face outside of the classroom, will have a safe place to sleep and access to the wrap-around services that they need. We have a responsibility to ensure that this vulnerable population, many of whom will be subject to predation, violence or trafficking is not forgotten or left behind.”
“Every child across America and West Virginia should have a roof over their head every single night,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. “I fought to ensure that the American Rescue Plan included $800 million to help identify and assist students currently experiencing homelessness. Today’s state plan approvals are a great step in addressing this heartbreaking issue. West Virginia alone has received nearly than $5 million from this funding, which is good news for the more than 9,500 West Virginia children and youth currently experiencing homelessness. This fight is far from over, and I’ll keep working with the Department of Education to ensure our children get the help they need and deserve.”
As classrooms across the nation continue to offer safe, in-person instruction this Fall, it remains critical that schools, districts, and states continue to identify and serve students experiencing homelessness. The $800 million in ARP-HCY funds, designed to supplement existing federal funds including the $122 billion in other ARP funding, is designed to aid states and districts as they ensure children and youth experiencing homelessness can attend school and participate fully in school activities. States and districts have already begun to utilize ARP-HCY funds to support students experiencing homelessness, following the Department’s disbursement of ARP-HCY funds earlier this year.
In the plans approved today, states have committed to using ARP-HCY funds to increase and improve state and district level supports for the education of students experiencing homelessness. A few key examples include:
- The Colorado Department of Education commits to collaborating on wraparound services with the State’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which facilitates key partnerships with community-based organizations and connects students with wraparound supports, including after school, before school, and summer programming.
- In Washington, the state education agency will use ARP-HCY funds to assist school districts, develop and provide training, and improve coordination with other state programs. Additionally, the state will award contracts to community-based organizations that are well-positioned to identify historically underserved populations of students, including immigrant and refugee students, experiencing homelessness and connect them to educational supports and community wraparound services.
- The West Virginia Department of Education will engage state level community-based organizations providing wrap-around services and allocate ARP-HCY funding specifically to provide targeted services to school age children who are experiencing homelessness.
- In Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will provide statewide training on strategies to support the identification and enrollment of students experiencing homelessness, including community partnerships, transportation, post-secondary education planning, and the financial aid process. Additionally, TEA will, in collaboration with district liaisons, award contracts to community-based organizations to assist local educational agencies with identifying and supporting historically underserved populations experiencing homelessness.
- Ohio will use ARP-HCY funds to provide grants to districts, early learning centers, and career-technical centers in order to increase identification of students and families experiencing homelessness. These funds will allow schools to provide more support to preschool children and unaccompanied youth in career technical education programs.
- The Maryland State Department of Education, Homeless Education, Neglected, Delinquent, and At-Risk Branch will use ARP-HCY funds to collaborate within the state agency to raise awareness of the growing needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness by launching a Homeless Education Awareness Campaign. The campaign will help organize content and strategy to address the educational needs of students experiencing homelessness.
More information about each State’s ARP-HCY plan can be found here: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/american-rescue-plan/american-rescue-plan-elementary-secondary-school-emergency-relief-homeless-children-youth-arp-hcy/arp-hcy-state-plans/