ARP-HCY Resource GuideThis guide outlines suggestions and resources for effectively utilizing American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds. This includes ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II funds.
Section 2001(b)(1) of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) Homeless designates that funds can be used on the same authorized activities as under the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] sections 11431-11435).
Below you will find:
- Sixteen EHCY authorized activities,
- The additional ARP-HCY authorized activities that are allowable with both ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II funds, and
- A list of resources and strategies for local educational agencies (LEAs) including county offices of education (COEs), districts, school sites and community-based organizations (CBOs).
EHCY Authorized Activities
Activities authorized under EHCY are as follows:
- The provision of tutoring, supplemental instruction, and enriched educational services that are linked to the achievement of the same challenging State academic standards as the State establishes for other children and youths;
- The provision of expedited evaluations of the strengths and needs of homeless children and youths, including needs and eligibility for programs and services (such as educational programs for gifted and talented students, children with disabilities, and English learners, services provided under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 [20 U.S.C. Section 6301 et seq.] or similar State or local programs, programs in career and technical education, and school nutrition programs);
- Professional development and other activities for educators and specialized instructional support personnel that are designed to heighten the understanding and sensitivity of such personnel to the needs of homeless children and youths, the rights of such children and youths under this part, and the specific educational needs of runaway and homeless youths;
- The provision of referral services to homeless children and youths for medical, dental, mental, and other health services;
- The provision of assistance to defray the excess cost of transportation for students under section 11432(g)(4)(A) of this title, not otherwise provided through Federal, State, or local funding, where necessary to enable students to attend the school selected under section 11432(g)(3) of this title;
- The provision of developmentally appropriate early childhood education programs, not otherwise provided through Federal, State, or local funding, for preschool-aged homeless children;
- The provision of services and assistance to attract, engage, and retain homeless children and youths, particularly homeless children and youths who are not enrolled in school, in public school programs and services provided to non-homeless children and youths;
- The provision for homeless children and youths of before- and after-school, mentoring, and summer programs in which a teacher or other qualified individual provides tutoring, homework assistance, and supervision of educational activities;
- If necessary, the payment of fees and other costs associated with tracking, obtaining, and transferring records necessary to enroll homeless children and youths in school, including birth certificates, immunization or other required health records, academic records, guardianship records, and evaluations for special programs or services;
- The provision of education and training to the parents and guardians of homeless children and youths about the rights of, and resources available to, such children and youths, and other activities designed to increase the meaningful involvement of parents and guardians of homeless children or youths in the education of such children or youths;
- The development of coordination between schools and agencies providing services to homeless children and youths, as described in section 11432(g)(5) of this title;
- The provision of specialized instructional support services (including violence prevention counseling) and referrals for such services;
- Activities to address the particular needs of homeless children and youths that may arise from domestic violence and parental mental health or substance abuse problems;
- The adaptation of space and purchase of supplies for any non-school facilities made available under subsection (a)(2) to provide services under this subsection;
- The provision of school supplies, including those supplies to be distributed at shelters or temporary housing facilities, or other appropriate locations; and,
- The provision of other extraordinary or emergency assistance needed to enable homeless children and youths to attend school and participate fully in school activities.
ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II Authorized Activities
Activities authorized under ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II are as follows:
- The provision of wraparound services (which could be provided in collaboration with and/or through contracts with CBOs, and could include academic supports, trauma-informed care, social-emotional support, and mental health services);
- The provision of needed supplies (e.g., Per-Pupil Expenditure, eyeglasses, school supplies, personal care items);
- The provision of transportation to enable children and youth to attend classes and participate fully in school activities;
- The purchase of cell phones or other technological devices for unaccompanied youth to enable the youth to attend and fully participate in school activities;
- The provision of access to reliable, high-speed internet for students through the purchase of internet connected devices/equipment, mobile hotspots, wireless service plans, or installation of Community Wi-Fi Hotspots (e.g., at homeless shelters), especially in underserved communities;
- Paying for short-term, temporary housing (e.g., a few days in a motel) when such emergency housing is the only reasonable option for COVID-safe temporary housing and when necessary to enable the homeless child or youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities (including summer school); and,
- The provision of store cards/prepaid debit cards to purchase materials necessary for students to participate in school activities.
Strategies, Examples and Resources
Here are several examples of ways to use ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II funding specifically dedicated to support the identification, enrollment, and school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness, including wrap-around services.
LEAs can increase staff to assist with the implementation of EHCY, or increase hours of service to those already employed. The additional staff can assist with the identification, enrollment and on-site professional development. Here are some more examples.
- Hire an Outreach Case Manager to serve and support families in need.
- Hire a Family Specialist for EHCY outreach and education to train community partners, school staff, and families in multiple languages.
- Create an Outreach and Identification Team to visit and collaborate with motels/ hotels, high-density apartments, and other housing in the community.
- Hire additional staff to assist with identification, care management (social-emotional and medical) and to include consultation for smaller, rural, frontier, and charter LEAs.
- Assign School-Site Liaisons using existing school-site staff, and offer them stipends. School-site liaisons could be school counselors, assistant principals, attendance clerks, health staff, front desk staff, etc.
- Hire Wellness Case Managers to support and partner with community agencies to better support the wellbeing of homeless children, youth, and their families.
- Hire short-term staff, such as retired homeless liaisons, to help build capacity.
- Offer stipends for students who are working on their bachelors or masters in social work as interns to support with identification and reengagement.
- Have staff work directly with community health agencies to conduct online school registration and provide tutoring.
- Create Street Teams to assist with identification, home visits, and to partner with home visiting programs. This can also include assisting with online school registration to make services faster and ensure eligibility.
Engagement and Re-Engagement
Samples below provide LEAs with how to engage and re-engage homeless students due to the impacts of COVID. This can include both internal and external agencies and partnerships as well as new and existing programs.
- Provide computer and literacy training for youth.
- Purchase and disseminate headphones and wireless earpieces as a part of a Back to School packet, as needed.
- Develop a Drop-in Center in partnership with school services, community agencies, and/or Continuum of Care/housing partners. The center would be in proximity to school sites and offer snacks, computers, workshops for youth and families, job search support, housing support, haircuts, computer camps, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion assistance, exercise, outdoor activities, etc.
- Connect to local communities such as migrant, tribal, cultural, religious, medical, etc. and be an active participant in their annual events including resource fairs, health fairs, recruitment fairs, festivals, and family events to target homeless students and their families.
- Offer summer enrichments such as Diversity and Inclusion Video Exhibition into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, robotics, and computer skills.
- Develop a leadership academy with cohorts of students and utilizing outdoor education center and teaching leadership skills, and empowering youth with a drone class where students will be certified and can work as a drone operator.
- Offer computer camp for “soon to be” high school seniors to assist with college/career transition skills, recruitment, FAFSA completion, etc.
- Expand summer, afterschool and other school breaks events for students and provide stipends to youth for a three-day youth summit that focuses on academic success, transition to college/career, etc.
- Work with Parks and Recreation to pay for sports scholarships so that kids can participate in local sports like basketball, t-ball, etc.
- Offer motivational and inspiring speakers’ series for youth and their families.
- Offer tutoring, employment readiness, internship programs, and youth advisory boards during summer sessions.
- Develop a video series to outreach and educate others using live experiences from homeless students and families.
Gift Cards for Engagement or Re-Engagement
ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II funds can be used to provide store cards/prepaid debit cards to purchase materials necessary for students to participate in school activities. According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the use of gift, store, or prepaid debit cards for a parent/guardian or youth experiencing homelessness to purchase school, clothing, or hygiene supplies is allowable. These are not considered to be gifts, which are not allowed to be purchased through Federal grants.
LEAs and Title I, Part A programs can opt not to allow these methods due to elevated concerns about fraud, waste, or abuse. LEAs that allow the use of prepaid debit cards should have procedures to reduce the likelihood of fraud, waste, or abuse (for example, by asking for receipts of items purchased with the gift card). We highly recommend that the LEA has a process or procedure for tracking purchases of gift cards and to ensure that items were bought are allowable. ED does not recommend that prepaid debit cards be the primary method for LEAs to distribute needed supplies to all of its students experiencing homelessness.
Coordination, collaboration, and program sustainability is essential. Outreach to both internal and external systems improve services and support to homeless children, youth, and their families.
- Provide hotels and motels with back packs filled with hygiene kits, school supplies, and information on EHCY so that the managers can hand them out to their families.
- Work with Health and Human Services agencies for wraparound services.
- Coordinate with Public Housing Authority and/or Continuum of Care to work on the administration of Emergency Housing Vouchers with the support from the liaisons. Liaisons can assist with prioritizing families and youth that are in need.
- Coordinate with local laundry businesses to have the LEA pay for laundry services for families as well as unaccompanied youth.
- Work with local storage space rentals to house school supplies, health supplies, and clothing for homeless children, youth, and their families
- Offer ARP mini-grants to non-funded LEAs to build capacity such as charters, smaller districts, etc.
- Offer short-term housing and emergency vouchers, as well as eviction prevention and one-time rental assistance. Prioritize families and youth who do not qualify for shelters or who do not qualify for other federal funds due to immigration status, age, gender or family separation, among other barriers
Data and Training
Data is essential to serving and supporting homeless children and youth. Educational outcomes should be analyzed annually and compared to previous years. Here are a few examples on how to use ARP-HCY I and ARP-HCY II funds for data and data training.
- Increase data analysis staff time to analyze student outcomes including educational, identification, and services provided. Incorporate homelessness into existing systems and mirror data analysis that is completed by other programs.
- Implement the “Have You Seen This Student?” screening in hopes to re-connect students and youth with families.
- Provide training to registrars and attendance clerks about the importance of identification of homeless students, and school attendance.
Special Notes and Recommendations
All strategies and suggestions are contributions by LEAs throughout the state and at the national level. The intent is to remove barriers to the education of homeless students. For all purchases and strategies, it is recommended that you consult with your legal and financial departments.
The links below are local, state, and national resources to assist with LEAs with various training opportunities and building awareness.
- Sacramento COE Project TEACH REVISED 4 (Video; 11:56) offers a short video for training.
- McKinney-Vento McKinney-Vento.org offers training for homeless liaisons and essential staff for a cost.
- Yuba COE McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Video; 10:45) offers a short video for training.
- Stockton Unified School District Families in Transition (Video; 6:36) offers a short video for training.
- National Center for Homeless Education: Self-Paced Online Training The National Center for Homeless Children offers various training modules.
- SchoolHouse Connection Facebook page: New Training & Awareness Videos SchoolHouse Connection offers new training and awareness videos.
The links below are local, state, and national resources to assist with LEAs with implementing the provisions of transportation requirements under EHCY.
- EverDriven provides alternative student transportation for school districts nationwide.
- Hop, Skip and Drive offers safe youth transportation solutions.
- LEAs can contract with local bus services using a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), which is a cost-efficient option. Links to sample transportation MOUs:
- Although this link is for Foster Care, there may be questions and considerations for meeting with Transportation staff in your LEA. The SchoolHouse Connection (PDF) can help. There are a number of sample MOUs on this site and can be utilized for homeless students, as well: