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

mother comforting young boy

This list contains a variety of resources associated with how teachers and caregivers can help children who are homeless or who have insecure housing arrangements.

IEL Resources

Community Supports

  • Continuum of Care (CoC) Program – The Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.
  • Emergency & 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 Directory – A listing of state coordinators for the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness from the National Center for Homeless Education at SERVE.
  • McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children – 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.
  • 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

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 2020 Edition – 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 2020 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 – 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.
  • 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.

Web Resources

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Reviewed: 2021