When Children Are Homeless or Housing Insecure: How Preschool Teachers and Caregivers Can Help

About this resourceReviewed: 2019

Related Web Resources

Continuum of Care (CoC) Program – The Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.

Emergency and Transitional Housing Program – The Emergency and Transitional Housing Program in Illinois gives immediate and comprehensive shelter services to people who are homeless and people at risk of becoming homeless. Services are provided at shelters run by nonprofit organizations and local governments.

Homeless Education State Coordinators – A listing of state coordinators for the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness from the National Center for Homeless Education at SERVE.

Homeless Education – This page on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website includes links to information on state grants, resources, publications, laws, and liaisons related to the education of homeless children and youth. This recorded ISBE Webinar provides information on identification, school stability, enrollment, and decision making for early childhood programs in Illinois.

Homeless Prevention – The Homeless Prevention Program in Illinois provides rental assistance, utility assistance, and supportive services to eligible individuals and families who are homeless or who are in danger of eviction or foreclosure.

Homeless Resources – This page has resources for state coordinators and local liaisons, and issue briefs related to best practices as well as connecting with parents.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Educational Rights of Children & Youth in Homeless Situations – This document provides answers to frequently asked questions on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the education rights of children and youth in homeless situations, based on the amendments made by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness: CCDF State Guide – This guide is intended to assist states in using their CCDF state plan as a vehicle for improving access to high-quality early care and education for children who experience homelessness.

Training and Workshop Materials on The Education Rights of Children Experiencing Homelessness – This ISBE page includes guidance on residency, school fee waivers, discipline, uniforms and immigrant students’ rights.

Early Childhood Resources

Caring for the Health and Wellness of Children Experiencing Homelessness – This tip sheet includes information on causes of homelessness, the effects of homelessness on children, and links to additional resources.

Childhood Trauma: Understanding, Supporting, Preventing – This course was created by the Military Families Learning Network’s Early Intervention Team to explore childhood trauma, disability, and trauma-informed practices in early childhood settings. This self-paced, interactive module includes four units that cover the prevalence and impact of trauma, manifestation of trauma in young children, providing trauma-informed supports, and preventing future trauma.

Determining Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Rights and Services – This brief provides local homeless education liaisons and other school personnel with an in-depth understanding of the McKinney-Vento definition of homeless. The brief also outlines a step-by-step process for making determinations of McKinney-Vento eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Early Care and Education for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness – This issue brief addresses the requirements of early childhood programs in meeting the needs of children and families who are homeless.

Expanding Early Care and Education for Children Experiencing Homelessness – Agencies within the Office of the Administration for Children and Families have outlined resources to support early childhood programs on providing services for young children and their families who are experiencing homelessness. These resources include policies and guidance, resource guides, and national organizations addressing homelessness.

Family Homelessness – This Sesame Street site provides videos, articles, workshops, and printable coloring sheets and handouts for families and providers on the impact of homelessness.

Home at Head Start: Helping Families Experiencing Homelessness Access Head Start Services – This video campaign challenges Head Start programs to enroll more children and families experiencing homelessness. Use the featured resources to educate staff and reduce the stigma around homelessness.

Schoolhouse Connection Early Childhood – This page includes resources, research and policy information about the effects of homelessness on young children.

Self-Assessment Tool for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness – This tool is designed for child care, Head Start and Early Head Start, and public PreK programs as a guide for welcoming and supporting families and children experiencing homelessness.

Support for Students Whose Families Have Lost Their Homes to Foreclosure – This printable brochure provides parents with basic information about the McKinney-Vento Act. Also available in Spanish.

Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness – This interactive learning series is intended for professionals in early childhood and school-age child care settings, CCDF Lead Agency or designated entity staff, and other key stakeholders. Learn how to identify families experiencing homelessness, conduct community outreach, and much more.

Who Is Homeless? A Flowchart for Making Determinations for Education Services – This flowchart is meant to aid you in making decisions about a student’s eligibility as homeless under the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act, but it may not capture every housing situation.

McKinney-Vento Resources

Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile – This 2017 release of the 50-state profile project provides a snapshot of early childhood data available for children who are experiencing homelessness in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Homeless Liaison Toolkit – This toolkit is a comprehensive resource that will assist both new and veteran local liaisons in carrying out their responsibilities. Updated to reflect the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2017 edition of the Homeless Liaison Toolkit includes requirements of the law, good practices, sample forms, and links to resources.

McKinney-Vento Toolbox – This toolbox is designed to help school districts implement the McKinney-Vento Act fully so they can address the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness on a daily basis and in times of disaster. The toolbox contains information and practical lessons learned and resources developed during the recovery process following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.


Fact Sheet: Vulnerable Young Children – This fact sheet developed by the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center begins by highlighting several factors that have been found to promote positive outcomes for all vulnerable young children and their families. Subsequent sections provide data on specific populations of at risk children.

Homelessness and Young Children: Early Childhood Care and Education. Minibibliography – This bibliography developed by the National Center for Homeless Education includes a selection of resources that address the needs and educational rights of young children experiencing homelessness as well as strategies for working with these vulnerable children and their families in early childhood care and education programs.

Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness – This policy statement provides recommendations from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Education on how early childhood and housing providers at the local and, in some cases, state levels can collaborate to provide safe, stable, and nurturing environments for pregnant women and families with young children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Promising Practices for Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Look at Two States – This brief will provide an overview of the effects of homelessness on young children, federal initiatives that have expanded access to early care and learning for young children experiencing homelessness, and how two states (Massachusetts and Oregon) have implemented policies to improve early childhood outcomes for young children experiencing homelessness.

Understanding Homelessness – This site provides education, data, and ideas for potential solutions for city officials, organizations and citizens when dealing with homelessness.

Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness – This brief examines the well-being of young children 20 months after staying in emergency homeless shelters with their families.  It draws comparisons between children who experienced homelessness and national norms for children of the same age. The brief also examines housing instability, child care instability, and enrollment in center-based care and Head Start, and associations between housing and child care stability and child well-being.


National Alliance to End Homelessness – This national organization is committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. The website provides statistics, webinars, training kits, and other resources related to homelessness.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth – This is a national membership association dedicated to educational equity and excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Its vision is that every child and youth experiencing homelessness is successful in school, from early childhood through higher education.

National Center for Homeless Education – The center supports the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness – The institute does research and provides resources related to poverty and homelessness.

NYS-TEACHS – This New York organization provides information, referrals, and trainings to schools, school districts, social service providers, parents, and others about the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness in New York state. Of particular interest is the Quick Tip Sheet Series

SchoolHouse Connection – This organization works to overcome homelessness through education, providing advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, higher education institutions, service providers, families, and youth.