To help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) today is inviting states to complete the application for their share of the second disbursement of $800 million in funding under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY). In April, the Department released the first $200 million of the $800 million in ARP-HCY funds to states. The distribution of the additional $600 million will give states and school districts access to funding before the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.
“Even before the coronavirus pandemic highlighted and exacerbated inequities in America’s education system, students experiencing homelessness faced numerous challenges as they strove to learn and achieve in school each day. Amid COVID-19 and the transition to remote and hybrid learning, for so many students, these challenges intensified. As a nation, we must do everything we can to ensure that all students—including students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity—are able to access an excellent education that opens doors to opportunity and thriving lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I encourage every state to urgently use these American Rescue Plan funds to support homeless children and youth so that these students have every chance to participate in summer learning and enrichment; experience full-time, in-person instruction in their schools in the fall; and get connected to vital services and supports that can support their success.”
The needs of students experiencing homelessness remain urgent, as many schools and districts struggle to identify and serve students who experience homelessness. The ARP-HCY funds are designed to be flexible so that states and districts can address community needs. This additional ARP-HCY funding will be used by states and school districts to identify homeless children and youth, provide wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide assistance to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities.
“Every child deserves to have a warm place to sleep and a roof over their head every night. But for 1.5 million children across America and over 10,000 children in my home state of West Virginia, that is not the case. The COVID-19 pandemic made this heartbreaking and dire issue much worse for many of our families and children in need. Since the pandemic kept most students at home, schools have struggled to track students experiencing homelessness,” said Sen. Joe Manchin. “This second round of funding—part of the $800 million I successfully fought to include in the American Rescue Plan—will help schools identify students experiencing homelessness and provide support for these vulnerable students. States can begin applying for the second round of funding today in order to get the funds directly to school districts before the new school year so students experiencing homelessness can receive the support they need.”
“This past year has been so difficult for every student, parent and educator across the country—but what students experiencing homelessness have gone through is unthinkable. The first thing we told people during this pandemic was to ‘stay home.’ But so many students don’t have a safe place to call home, access to internet, devices, or critical services that students have relied on to learn during this pandemic,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “We fought hard to make sure the American Rescue Plan includes dedicated funding for students experiencing homelessness, and I’m so pleased the Department of Education is acting quickly to get these resources to our communities. The crisis of youth homelessness is especially acute for LGBTQ young people and children of color, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure students experiencing homelessness not only get enrolled in school, but also get the kind of support and stability they need so they can learn and grow in the classroom.”
Following a brief application, states will receive funds that will be awarded to school districts through formula subgrants. These funds will reach districts that may not have accessed previous federal funding designated for students experiencing homelessness. Under the final requirements that will be published in the Federal Register, states are required to distribute funds to school districts via a formula that uses the district’s allocation under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the number of identified homeless children and youth in either the 2018-19 or 2019-20 school year, whichever number is greater. With the exception of the district subgranting formula, which replaces the competitive subgrant process required by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act), all requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act also apply to the ARP-HCY funds.
The distribution of ARP-HCY funds is part of the Department’s broader efforts to support students and districts as they work to reengage students impacted by the pandemic, address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and build our education system back better than before. In addition to providing $130 billion for K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of K-12 schools and meet the needs of all students, the Biden-Harris Administration has:
Released three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook
Held a National Safe School Reopening Summit
Helped over 175 million Americans ages 12 and older get vaccinated
Provided $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for PreK-12 educators, staff, and students
Prioritized the vaccination of educators and other school staff
Launched a series of Equity Summits focused on addressing inequities that existed before, but were made worse by the pandemic
Released a report on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on underserved communities, including homeless youth
Developed a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse elevating hundreds of best practices to support schools’ efforts to reopen safely and address the impacts of COVID-19 on students, educators, and communities.