Earlier this week the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education released a Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing or At Risk of Homelessness. The release of the policy statement was accompanied by an informative infographic about homelessness in early childhood, pointing out that individuals are most likely to experience homelessness as young children. This is incredibly relevant to the many Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (EHS) grantees serving homeless families or those at risk of experiencing homelessness. HS and EHS are central to recommendations in the report.
The new policy statement stresses the importance of strong relationships among providers and agencies supporting families experiencing homelessness. It also acknowledges the varying and individualized needs of families, for example, pointing particular attention to research that shows many families are headed by young parents.
There are three recommendations highlighted in the policy statement:
- Recommendation #1 – Support a Two-Generation Approach by Developing and Strengthening Partnerships across Early Childhood and Housing Programs and System
- Recommendation #2 – Enhance early childhood program and system integration with the Continuum of Care (CoC)’s coordinated entry process
- Recommendation #3 – Improve, leverage, and integrate early childhood homeless data
One of the most helpful aspects of this policy statement is that it provides specific examples of strategies that stakeholders might consider. For each recommendation, the policy statement has an “early childhood providers can do this by” section that lists ways early childhood providers can partner – locally and at the state level – or actions they can take to support the needs of families. For example, as part of Recommendation 1, one of the suggestions for how early childhood providers can help bridge partnerships and share information is to “educate housing and shelter providers about early childhood development, including the unique needs and vulnerabilities of young children and their parents.” There are many suggestions in the document, and “Spotlight” examples giving you real life snapshots of the work in action.
The new policy statement is a recommended read, and you might think about how you share this document with your Board, Policy Council, and even your local and state partners to help continue the dialogue about coordinated supports for children and families experiencing homelessness in your communities.
We have successfully worked with agencies in every round of recompetition to write winning grants, design competitive programs, confirm prudent budgets, and plan for a manageable start-up period. Contact Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at (703) 599-4329 or auge[email protected] to learn about how we can help.