New Tip Sheet on Sharing Data About Youth Experiencing Homelessness

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Two people looking at a laptop.

Community partnerships are key to preventing and ending homelessness, as Matthew Doherty of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, or USICH, told us recently.

In that spirit, sharing data is an important way school systems, housing providers, and social service organizations can work together to better serve families, children, and youth experiencing homelessness. Of course, any type of data-sharing has to preserve the rights and privacy of children, youth, and families.

To promote effective and careful data sharing that falls in line with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, the Department of Education and USICH recently released a tip sheet on interagency data disclosure. Here are three ways school systems and anti-homelessness groups can share data and collaborate to get better data, according to the tip sheet:

  1. Schools may disclose non-identifying information or statistical data about students when proper public notice is given about the information that is to be shared, according to FERPA regulations. School districts may consider offering annual reports about homeless youth in their schools, with all identifying information removed.
  2. Schools and school systems can take part in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness. The school district’s homelessness liaison can discreetly refer homeless youth and families to resources and let point-in-time volunteers know where homeless youth may congregate.
  3. School systems can coordinate their information with data collected via HUD’s Continuum of Care Housing Management Information System. Doing so makes sense because homeless youth and families may be being served by multiple agencies. See the tip sheet for examples of communities that have integrated school and continuum of care data.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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