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.
Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness
This interactive learning series includes eight 30-minute modules to enhance your understanding of homelessness. Learn how to identify, enroll, and support children and families with unstable living situations.
Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness Webinar Series
Watch this three-part webinar series, which features exemplary practices from Head Start and Early Head Start programs and collaboration directors.
Decision-Making Tool to Determine a Family's Homeless Situation
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
Reflection and Planning Tool for Partnering with Families Experiencing Homelessness
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.
Better Parent Communication: What Do I Say When a Parent Tells Me Something Difficult?
Explore strategies for responding effectively to parents and the difficult topics they can bring to Head Start staff.
Staff and Partners
Supporting Professionals Who Support Families: The Parallel Process
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.
Connecting with Partners Planning Worksheet
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
How to Help Families Experiencing Homelessness Access Quality Health Care for Their Children
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.
Caring for the Health and Wellness of Children Experiencing Homelessness
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.
Supporting the Health and Wellness of Children Experiencing Homelessness in the Time of COVID-19
Learn about impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family homelessness.
Family Homelessness: State and Community Maps
State and Community Homelessness Maps
Explore three interactive maps with data and key contact information to support Head Start programs in their efforts to recruit and serve children and families experiencing homelessness.
The "Home at Head Start" Campaign
Stay connected on Twitter to learn about the many exciting ways programs are doing their part to give children and families a "home at Head Start." Share your program's efforts using #HomeatHeadStart.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Office of Head Start
Last Updated: June 1, 2023