Lost in the Masked Shuffle & Virtual Void: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amidst the Pandemic

420,000.

Based on a new report from SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, that’s how many fewer children and youth experiencing homelessness have been identified and enrolled by schools so far this school year — despite evidence of increasing homelessness and proactive, tenacious efforts by school district homeless liaisons.

Schools provide safety, stability, and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness, as well as the support and tools necessary for them to cope, succeed and thrive as adults. However, in order to benefit from support and services, children and youth must first be identified as homeless.

This decrease in homeless student enrollment, combined with previous estimates of under-identification, means that as many as 1.4 million children and youth experiencing homelessness may be un-identified and unsupported by their school during the pandemic. Survey responses also show significant unmet, basic needs like food and housing, as well as a failure of federal CARES Act dollars to reach children and youth experiencing homelessness at this unprecedented time of need.

Check out the full report — key findings, insights, liaison perspectives, and recommendations for taking action, including for: Congressional leaders, state and local educational agencies, homeless, housing, food, and other relief agencies, and philanthropic organizations.

We cannot fully recover from COVID-19 as a nation if we leave millions of children, youth, and families behind. We must increase outreach and expand support for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness through public schools and early childhood programs, and prioritize their education and well-being in all public systems of care. This is how we will break generational cycles of homelessness.

This is hub of expertise and stories to drive solutions around children, youth, and family homelessness. It is a project of SchoolHouse Connection.