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As the federal government continues to work to end family homelessness, the Administration for Children & Families has made it a priority for early childhood education programs like Head Start to serve homeless children.
To support this goal, ACF recently shared its top recommendations and resources for Head Start providers. We think youth workers will find this information helpful as they help teen parents enroll their children in Head Start and similar early-childhood programs. We also noticed several recommendations that can help youth-serving agencies join the conversation and advocate for improved access to services.
Collaboration: Many of ACF’s recommendations focus on partnerships with advocates like school homeless liaisons, local housing authorities and Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuums of Care. Youth-serving organizations can find a seat at the table by sharing their knowledge of federal law and policies as well as the lessons they've learned working with homeless families.
Innovation: ACF’s suggestions include mobile service programs and improved mental health consultations, but we bet you have your own suggestions to add!
Flexibility: Early childhood education programs are encouraged to give homeless families more time to gather required documents and, when it doesn’t conflict with state or local laws, extra time for immunizations. Youth workers can help early learning providers develop reasonable timelines by teaching them about common challenges young homeless families face when trying to get records.
Training: ACF’s resource list includes a number of organizations that provide related training and technical assistance, including Horizons for Homeless Children and Zero to Three. Programs familiar with these organizations can offer their feedback on which trainings they’ve found effective.