This week, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) approved all remaining American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) state plans. With today’s approval of Mississippi’s state plan, all 52 ARP-HCY state plans are approved by the Department. The $800 million in funding provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will continue to identify and support students experiencing homelessness and connect them with necessary resources and supports, and work to enable them to attend school and fully participate in school activities.
The American Rescue Plan provided unprecedented funding to states to help students and families experiencing homelessness. The Department believes states must act with urgency to provide all students, including students experiencing homelessness, equitable access to high-quality learning environments and the resources to help meet their basic needs which schools often provide.
Across the country, states are distributing these funds and we are already seeing the impact. In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the school district is using ARP-Homelessness funds to help identify and assist their nearly 70 students experiencing homelessness. In Altoona, Pennsylvania, the school district is using these crucial dollars to address the basic needs of students experiencing homelessness. That means working with partner organizations to provide things like food, housing, school supplies, and medical care to these children and their families.
These final approved plans continue to show states’ commitment to expand opportunity for students experiencing homelessness and their families. For example:
- The Tennessee Department of Education is developing a McKinney-Vento data dashboard to visualize all data, academic and support services, on students experiencing homelessness in one location to better support decision making for resources, supports, and programing for students and families experiencing homelessness.
- Nevada is assessing where and how to best address the issue of children and youth experiencing homelessness using ARP-HCY funds. This effort will pinpoint areas of strength in the state as well as identify where additional supports are needed. These supports could provide training, technical assistance, additional staffing capacity, and engagement at the state and local level.
- The New Mexico Public Education Department is creating a statewide community of practice for early childhood programs, and for postsecondary education. They are also developing a Pilot Project with the Regional Education Cooperatives in the state to improve identification and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness in rural areas.
These join the plans that have already been approved by ED earlier this year. Highlights from those plans are:
- 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.
- 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 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.
- And Oregon, in response to a series of wildfires in 2020, will be using a portion of ARP HCY funding to increase school, district, and community capacity to identity and reengage students who are experiencing homelessness.
“Every single student deserves a safe place to call home, but for millions of students experiencing homelessness that is not the case—and during this pandemic these students faced truly unthinkable challenges,” said U.S Senator Patty Murray. “It’s critical that we identify students experiencing homelessness and get them the resources and support they need to thrive—and that’s exactly what this funding will help do. I’m so proud to have fought to include this critical funding in the American Rescue Plan, and I’m glad to see the Department of Education acting quickly to get these funds to our schools and communities in need. With so many students and families struggling with homelessness, I’ll keep fighting to ensure every single student can succeed in the classroom.”
“Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and a warm place to sleep at night,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. Unfortunately, that is not the case for more than 9,500 children in West Virginia and over a million children across the country. We must address this heartbreaking issue, which is why I am pleased the last plan for the use of American Rescue Plan funding to address children and youth homelessness, which I successfully fought to include, has been approved. 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.”
“We worked across the aisle to ensure the American Rescue Plan included our bipartisan program protecting families and children during the pandemic. All state plans have been finalized, including in Arizona to ensure youth experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness will have increased access to critical services to keep them safe and connected to learning,” said U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Throughout the state plan review process, the Department has emphasized the importance of states getting funds to school districts as quickly as possible, encouraging strong partnerships with community-based organizations, and strategies that build capacity to identify students experiencing homelessness and provide wraparound services to meet their full needs.
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.