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Directory of Supports for Families Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity 

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This directory of supports provides contact information, descriptions of programs, state agencies, and non-profit organizations in Illinois that provide support for families of young children experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. Families may wish to begin searching for resources in their local community using these links:

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS)
IDHS provides a listing of state supported programs for assistance and an Early Intervention Office Locator to assist families in finding an office in their local community.

Illinois Community Action Agencies
Community Action Agencies are a hub for local services for families. Many of these agencies provide resources both basic needs and well being. This IACCA Member Directory provides listings of local agencies.

211 Hotline
The 211 hotline serves many communities throughout the state of Illinois. Simply dial 211 on your phone to connect to an operator who can help you find services and supports in your local community.

Professionals equipped with an understanding of the research, data, and policy surrounding homelessness and housing insecurity will be better able to identify and serve families.  For additional information on this topic, see the IEL resource list Homelessness: Research, Data, and Policy

Basic Needs

Families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity first need help finding food and support for nutritional needs; shelter, transitional housing, emergency childcare, and energy assistance; and clothing and diapers to meet their basic needs. Children and families experiencing homelessness may be eligible for a variety of supports and assistance program.

For specific information and links, see the IEL resource list, Meeting Basic Needs of Families Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity.   

Educational Rights

Families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity should have the same access to child care and child development services as those who are not experiencing these challenges.

Early care and education providers should be aware of families’ rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, as well as other programs, such as home visiting, that support educational needs. The list below describes some basic information. 

  • Preschool programs funded by a local educational agency can enroll, or continue to serve, young children who become homeless. Children must be enrolled immediately, even if the family does not have the otherwise required documentation.  
  • Families have the rights to the following:
    • School choice – Families can choose to keep their children at the last school they attended when they had permanent housing, the school where they were last enrolled, or their designated receiving school.
    • Immediate enrollment – Schools cannot require academic records, medical records, or other documents. The liaison can gather necessary paperwork after enrollment. 
    • Transportation – Homeless students can get transportation to and from school and school activities.
    • Fee waivers for fees and field trips.
    • Free meals – Children experiencing homelessness can get free meals at school without completing any forms.  

For specific information and links, see the IEL resource list, Education and Parent Support for Families Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity.

Family Well Being

Once families have found resources to meet their basic needs, they can consider ways to strengthen their family. These services help families improve their economic situation and overall resilience in the face of the challenges they have experienced due to homelessness or housing insecurity. 

Explore this topic in more depth by visiting the IEL resource list Promoting Well-Being in Families Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity

This project is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0001-01-00, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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About this resource

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

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Reviewed: 2023