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U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance to Help SEAs and LEAs Support Homeless Youth, Children, and their Families

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) made significant changes to the McKinney-Vento Act, which the U.S. Department of Education (ED) highlighted in a March 17, 2016 Federal Register notice (81 Fed. Reg. 14432). Today, ED released guidance to communicate to State and local Educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs), State Coordinators for Homeless Education, and Local Homeless Education Liaisons about how these changes should be implemented at the local level.

The new guidance provides updates specifically for providers covered by the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. However, there are some changes that Continuums of Care (CoCs) and homeless service providers should specifically note in the guidance. These include:

  • Clarification that State Coordinators for Homeless Education must providing training for local liaisons on the definitions of terms related to homelessness and eligibility requirements for Federal programs that serve homeless individuals (Question E-2);
     
  • An explanation of the authority of LEAs to determine whether a child or youth is homeless according to HUD’s definition of “homeless” (Question L-4); and
     
  • A description of how eligibility is determined under HUD’s homeless assistance programs, and the role LEAs can play in determining eligibility (Question L-5).

The guidance also helps explain how local homeless education liaisons can document homeless status for the children and youth they serve.

As a result of ESSA and this guidance, EHCY State coordinators and local liaisons will need technical assistance to help them to better understand how eligibility is determined for HUD homeless assistance programs. ED and HUD will be working together to provide that technical assistance.

The ESSA changes and the new EHCY guidance highlighted in this message provide an opportunity for CoCs and homeless service providers to reach out to their local homeless education liaisons and State Coordinators for homeless education to better coordinate housing and services on behalf of homeless children, youth, and families.

Additionally, ED released a Notice of the Rights and Protections for Homeless Children and Youths under the McKinney-Vento Act to all Federal agencies. The Notice was required by ESSA as well and should be reviewed to better understand the role of SEAs and LEAs to ensure that homeless children and youths have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths; and the changes made to the McKinney-Vento Act by ESSA to help achieve better outcomes for children, youth, and families.

For more information about determining homeless status in HUD’s homeless assistance programs, see Determining Homeless Status of Youth, a document released by HUD in 2015. To ask questions about HUD’s definition of homeless and eligibility for HUD’s homeless assistance programs, please submit your questions to the CoC Program Ask A Question (AAQ) portal. To submit a question to the CoC Program AAQ portal, select “CoC Program” from the “My question is related to” drop down list on Step 2 of the question submission process.


 
            
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