Welcome to the Interactive Homelessness Lessons


These lessons on homelessness will give Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal programs information about serving families who are experiencing homelessness. The lessons will give program staff opportunities to:

Each lesson contains information you can use to complete lesson activities and use for future reference.

Why These Lessons Are Important

Listen to Amanda Bryans, Director, Education and Comprehensive Services Division, explain why it is important to serve families experiencing homelessness.

Watch the video [00:02:27] | Read the transcript

Hello. My name is Amanda Bryans. I'm the director of the Educational Development and Partnerships Division at the Office of Head Start. As part of its mission to support the highest need families, Head Start has been working with and supporting families experiencing homelessness since the program began in 1965. Children who experience homelessness are at greater risk for health and developmental challenges, and as such, the comprehensive services that are provided in Head Start programs are particularly important for these children.

With the Head Start reauthorization of 2007, children who are homeless are now categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services for the first time. This means that these families do not need to prove income eligibility in order to enroll in Head Start.

We know that across the country there are many questions about what this change in the Act means for your programs. We at the Office of Head Start have developed these interactive lessons to assist you and your colleagues to better understand—

  1. The McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and how it relates to what you do in EHS and HS;
  2. How to determine eligibility for these families;
  3. Effective practices in identifying and providing outreach;
  4. Enrollment related to families experiencing homelessness; and
  5. Considerations in developing family partnerships as well as related community partnerships.

Through these lessons you will have opportunities to:

  • Quiz yourself on your current knowledge of homelessness;
  • Hear video clips from local Head Start staff, State Collaboration Directors, and experts on specific topics; and
  • Learn about national organizations with missions that seek to address homelessness.

We know that families who are homeless face incredibly difficult and stressful challenges, and it is our hope that we can work together as a common national community to address the barriers that impede our ability to support these families and to help them reach their goals. This series of lessons will be rolled out on the ECLKC. Check back frequently to try new lessons, and we hope you will let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.

We thank you for all you do to support children and families in your communities.

For more information, select the links below:

How to Begin

Find Out What You Already Know About Homelessness
Learn More About Homelessness and Head Start

Select one of the lessons from the navigation bar at the top of this page.

  • It is suggested that you select the lessons in the order in which they appear on the navigation bar.
  • You can spend as much or as little time as you wish on each lesson.
  • You do not have to complete a lesson or an activity in one sitting.
Begin the Lessons

Select Definition from the navigation bar and then select Introduction from the drop-down list.

Last Reviewed: July 2014

Last Updated: January 6, 2017