States Leverage ARP Funds to Address Needs of Homeless Students
Alexandria, VA — At the start of the pandemic, roughly 1.3 million public school students were identified as experiencing homelessness—2.5 percent of all those enrolled. A new NASBE analysis highlights the efforts of several states to leverage $800 million in federal funds to better address the short- and long-term needs of these students.
Under the American Rescue Plan’s Homeless Children and Youth Program (ARP-HCY), states can reserve up to 25 percent of funds for state-level activities, with at least 75 percent reserved for district use. As revealed in state plans for use of the funds, many states are prioritizing efforts to identify the population, evaluate needs, and provide wraparound services and assistance through partnerships with community-based organizations so students can attend and fully participate in school.
- Several states have allocated funds to ensure the coordination of services for students experiencing homelessness. For example, after analysis revealed low identification rates among its Indian education schools, Maine coordinated with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education to get program improvement and resource application information to those schools. North Carolina is hiring an early education systems navigator and a higher education systems navigator to meet the needs of children at key transition points.
- Community outreach efforts in Connecticut, Ohio, and Louisiana are helping ensure that more families are aware of available services and decreasing the stigma associated with receiving such services.
- Georgia and Delaware outlined plans to increase professional development of district staff, support peer connection, and address the gaps in knowledge that contribute to misunderstandings and inaccurate data about students experiencing homelessness. New York and California have created technical assistance centers to coordinate such efforts for districts.
- To ensure that homeless students receive appropriate services and learning enrichment, states are coordinating with afterschool programs and other community partners to bring academic tutoring, mental health counseling, and other resources to emergency shelters. The District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Louisiana are engaged in such efforts.
- Needs assessments and program evaluation are priorities in several states’ plans. Kentucky, for example, is enhancing its statewide student information system so districts can better coordinate and maintain services when students move between districts. New Jersey is developing a five-year strategic plan and a case management system so school districts can better identify and track homeless students.
The report also offers state boards of education key questions to guide conversations on how policymakers can help address the needs of students experiencing homelessness.
“While ARP focuses on ameliorating the effects of the pandemic, states can accrue a greater value if they emerge with stronger, better approaches to addressing the needs of these students over the long run,” writes NASBE’s Megan Blanco.
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