More than 1 million children ages birth to 6 experience homelessness in the U.S. These children are automatically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Homelessness is a circumstance families may experience when they are faced with such challenges as extreme poverty and lack of affordable housing. It can also occur when a family's current living situation becomes unsafe or unstable.
Homelessness is a state of vulnerability for children and families. It can expose families to physical, mental, and developmental risks. Head Start programs can provide needed support to children and families.
Explore relevant eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA) strategies and resources for supporting families in your program.
This interactive learning series includes nine 30-minute modules to enhance your understanding of homelessness. Learn how to identify, enroll, and support children and families with unstable living situations.
Watch this three-part webinar series, which features exemplary practices from Head Start and Early Head Start programs and collaboration directors.
Use this tool to determine a child and family’s situation or status using the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act’s definition of “homeless children and youth.”
Building Responsive Relationships with Families
Consider how you might enhance what you already do to partner with families experiencing homelessness. Use this tool to reflect on your program’s relationship-building practices and plan for next steps in supporting families experiencing homelessness.
Explore strategies for responding effectively to parents and the difficult topics they can bring to Head Start staff.
Staff and Partners
Working with families is a rewarding and challenging experience. Programs can provide support to staff in ways that mirror the supports they provide to parents. Explore this resource to learn more about the parallel process.
Working with local partners is a key strategy for identifying and reaching out to families experiencing homelessness. Use this worksheet to record data on these partners.
Health and Wellness
This resource describes the health care needs of children experiencing homelessness, and it has tips for helping families access quality health care for their children.
Explore this tip sheet to learn about how homelessness impacts health and wellness. Learn how to identify and assess the needs of families experiencing homelessness and connect them to medical and dental homes.
Learn about impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family homelessness.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Office of Head Start
Audience: Family Service Workers
Last Updated: February 12, 2024