Expanding Early Care and Education for Homeless Children
Ensuring the early learning and development of our country's youngest children is essential to ACF's work. Supporting the well-being of these young children and their families is an urgent task and one that is critical to improving the long-term educational outcomes of children nationwide.
Several federal policies and programs are in place to strengthen the ability of early care and education (ECE) providers to serve young children experiencing homelessness. Whether you are in a Head Start program, early childhood program, or work at the state level on early childhood systems and services, the resources listed below will assist you in ensuring that these young children are prioritized for services that support their learning and development.
- The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters is specifically designed to guide family shelter staff as they create a safe and developmentally appropriate environment for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
- The Guide to Developmental and Behavioral Screening for housing and shelter providers addresses the importance of developmental and behavioral screening, how to talk to parents, where to go for help, and how to select the most appropriate screening tool for the population served as well as the provider implementing the screening.
- Head Start Interactive Homelessness Lessons provide Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal programs information about serving families who are experiencing homelessness, including eligibility and enrollment requirements. The lessons highlight outreach and identification strategies, evaluate positive options for working with families, and identify ways to work with community partners.
Policies and Guidance
- Policies and Procedures to increase access to ECE services for homeless children and families
- Strategies for increasing ECE services for homeless children
- Definitions of Homelessness for Federal Program Serving Children, Youth, and Families chart illustrating the similarities and differences of the two major federal definitions of homelessness in use by the Department of Education in Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Act, and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Section 103 of Subtitle I of the McKinney-Vento Act
- Promising Practices for Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Look at Two States resource paper providing a fresh look at the effects of homelessness on young children, and efforts in Massachusetts and Oregon to implement innovative policies to improve early childhood outcomes for young children experiencing homelessness
- Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness resource paper highlighting efforts by local Head Start and Early Head Start programs to connect with public housing associations, emergency shelter providers, local education agencies, and other community service providers
- Working Together: Increasing Early Childhood Education Services for Homeless Children (Slide Presentation, PDF)
- Home Visiting and Homeless Service Systems
Related ACF Blog Posts
- The New Face of Homelessness
- Children Experiencing Homelessness Benefit from Targeted Interventions
- "I want to be a dinosaur"
- A Systematic Approach to Ending Family Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH)
NAEH works to prevent and end homelessness by being a leading voice on federal homelessness policy, providing capacity building assistance to communities turning policy into practice, and by advancing data and research around solutions to homelessness.
National Association for the Education Of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)
NAEHCY is an organization dedicated to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. NAEHCY accomplishes this through advocacy, partnerships, and education.
National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, NCHE provides research, resources, and information enabling communities to address the educational needs of children experiencing homelessness.
The National Center on Family Homelessness
The Center offers training to improve the skills and knowledge of people working with families experiencing homelessness.
National Law Center On Homelessness And Poverty
The mission of the Law Center is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)
USICH coordinates the federal response to homelessness and creates a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation while maximizing the effectiveness of the federal government in contributing to the end of homelessness.