On September 26th, 2023, SchoolHouse Connection hosted a webinar about the expiration of this one-time funding in September 2024. Daniel Espinosa of the Learning Policy Institute and Barbara Duffield the executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, shared statistics, barriers to support, and alerted new letter of guidance for how states should use their remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. Two field liaisons, Quentina Brown and Jessica Tremble, spoke on how they have specifically used ARP funds in conjunction with McKinney-Vento funding for the purpose of identifying homeless students and increasing support.
In 2021-2022 it was reported that around 1.2 million students (2.4% of the K-12 population) were experiencing homelessness, and based on additional research this is a severe undercount. The identification of students who may be eligible for McKinney-Vento support (education and family support for students experiencing homelessness) is a major barrier to the implementation of funds. Connections are made between adolescent homelessness, attendance and achievement in schools as well as success avoiding homelessness later in life. The ARP funding can be used now for longer motel stays for children and families, purchasing of vehicles, food assistance, early childhood education, and bridging services to higher education.
Jessica Tremble, a field liaison in New Jersey, serving around 10,000 children in a metropolitan area, 50 of which qualify for McKinney-Vento support. In the effort to identify students in need of support they have added questions to family surveys regarding needs they may have and have increased training for staff on the identification process. In order to stretch the ARP funding, they are purchasing gift cards for basic needs and paid upfront for a clinician to continue in their support role for students and families.
Quentina Brown, a liaison from Louisiana, provided a rural. Her district serves 14,000 children, over 650 of which qualified for McKinney-Vento program funding. She cited housing as the most important assistance request. Funding in this district is also focused on identification, they have hired community outreach coordinators, part time case managers, and licensed professional counselors to offer mental health support to students in individual and group settings.
By Pasha Ceniceros, Policy Intern