American Rescue Plan
Congress’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) package for COVID-19 relief provides nearly $123 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, which includes $800 million specifically dedicated to supporting children and youth that are experiencing homelessness. There were two rounds of funding for homeless students. The first round of ARP funds was provided to State Educational Agencies in late April with the second round of funding in July. The NC Department of Public Instruction received:
The funding is designed to meet the educational needs of homeless children and youth impacted by the pandemic. The funds are designed to facilitate the identification, enrollment, retention, and educational success of children and youth experiencing homelessness. The funds must be used to supplement the McKinney-Vento’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) funding in order for the state to address the urgent student needs that have evolved from the pandemic, including academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students, the much-needed trauma-informed care training, and for the state, as well as the PSUs, to increase the capacity of local homeless education programs by hiring staff.
Additionally, these funds may be contracted with community-based organizations that are well-positioned to identify youth from historically underserved populations, including rural children and youth, Tribal children and youth, students of color, children and youth with disabilities, English learners, LGBTQ+ youth, and pregnant, parenting, or caregiving students, to connect them to educationally related supports and wraparound services with local educational agencies.
The funds are required to be administered by the office of the state coordinator for homeless education. The state can reserve up to 25% for state-level activities. Sufficient funding should be provided to conduct training, technical assistance, capacity building, monitoring, oversight of district funding, and engagement to support PSUs in identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness.
Homeless liaisons across the state have faced various issues with identifying students during the pandemic due to learning remotely and not being face to face in the building. Restrictions on home visits along with limited access to services have also played an impact on identification. As the moratorium on evictions has been lifted and students have returned to the brick-and-mortar setting, an increase in identifications is occurring.
The pandemic has forced a greater awareness of the actual needs of the families and students who are experiencing homelessness. Students find safety and stability in their school buildings. With the closure of schools, and students working remotely, the high needs of these students have been brought to light. Needs such as food insecurity and Internet connectivity are now being seen by many more rather than just those working directly with this population. Access to in-person learning provides a safe and stable environment for students experiencing homelessness. Social and emotional needs, food, shelter, and engaging with classmates are significant to students’ academic outcomes.
The National Center for Homeless Education provides a robust webpage of resources specifically on the legislation and guidance of ARP to support homeless liaisons, school districts and communities in working together to address the unique needs of students impacted by the pandemic that are experiencing homelessness.
SchoolHouse Connection designed this tool to help early care, educators, and service providers to navigate the major funding streams and to connect with local and state agencies to help youth and families access assistance.
This brief will provide guidance to LEAs for strategically using and leveraging ARP ESSER funds to locate, engage, maintain connection, and support children and youth experiencing homelessness.
The Comprehensive, Continuous Improvement Plan (CCIP) is a web-based planning and grants management tool that is being used as the platform for Public School Units (PSUs) and charter schools to apply for ARP-Homeless (EHCY) funding for PRC184.
The NC Department of Public Instruction comprehensive information webpage on the legislation, requirements, and resources for ensuring compliance with allocations to PSUs.
From the webinar held October 26, 2021, by Federal Program Monitoring and Support Division on PRC 184 funding guidance.