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11Oct

Aligning Early Childhood Programs to Serve Children Experiencing Homelessness

NAEHCY just released two new resources. They will help multiple groups understand the changes due to ESSA, new Head Start Performance Standards and new Child Care Regulations as they pertain to services for young children experiencing homelessness. The following section is from the new message release:

Pulling it All Together: Strategies and Tools

It is not a coincidence that these new policies are so closely aligned. The new rules bring to fruition nearly a decade of NAEHCY’s successful legislative and administrative advocacy, based on the experiences and insights of educators, service providers, and advocates. From the definition of homelessness, to the requirements for identification, enrollment, prioritization, stability, and coordination of services, the policies offer tremendous potential to change the trajectory of young lives.

However, in order for these new rules to reach the children and families for whom they were intended, action is needed. Educators, service providers, and advocates must:

  • Make a concerted effort to understand the new rules, and to help families and community partners understand the new rules.
  • Review and revise policies and practices to conform to the new requirements.
  • Share data on the numbers and needs of young children experiencing homelessness with early childhood programs.
  • Develop collaborative relationships among early care, education, housing, and homeless services.
  • Help colleagues and community partners understand the importance of early childhood education for young children experiencing homelessness.

To this end, NAEHCY is offering two new tools:

Aligning Early Childhood Programs to Serve Children Experiencing Homelessness. A chart comparing preschool, Head Start, and child care policies for children experiencing homelessness. Organized by topic area, this chart compares effective dates; funding levels; definitions; eligibility; eligibility determinations; outreach and identification; enrollment; continuity/stability; transportation; collaborations; referrals; and family engagement. This publication was written in collaboration with the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Early Care and Education Infrastructure in My Community Grid and Resource List. This grid provides a list of key public early childhood programs and provides space for users to record information about local programs, including the name and contact information for accessing the program and services.  The Resource List contains a comprehensive, annotated list of public early childhood programs and links to the programs’ websites, with state contacts who can help identify and access local programs.  Special thanks to Grace Whitney, Connecticut’s Director of the Head Start State Collaboration Office, for creating the Grid and Resource List!

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