Serving Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Guidance for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Systems 

Learn how to identify and support families experiencing homelessness. Become familiar with the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and connect to a broad range of national and local resources.

Did You Know?

  1. Over one million children under six experience homelessness nationwide. 
  2. A person is most likely to experience homelessness during their early childhood years.
  3. Homelessness during pregnancy and the first five years is linked to increased risks for developmental delays, health and social-emotional problems into the school-age years. 
  4. High-quality early care and education buffers children and families from the challenges and risks of homelessness, yet children in homeless situations are less likely to participate in stable and nurturing early childhood programs, compared to their peers.
  5. Barriers that may keep families and children experiencing homelessness from participating in early childhood and school-age care and education programs include: 
    • limited access to transportation
    • frequent moves
    • lack of documentation for enrollment (birth certificates, medical documentation, etc.)
    • lack of child care spaces
    • lack of awareness among the early care and education field about the prevalence of homelessness among families with young children. 

Child Care Professionals Are In a Unique Position to Help

CCR&Rs across the country address critical needs affecting vulnerable children and families every day.  CCR&R’s are uniquely positioned, both to directly serve families experiencing homelessness and to support the professional development needs of child care providers to be better equipped at helping children and families experiencing housing instability.  This level of coordination and collaboration across systems and direct services is a crucial and valuable resource in the lives of young children and their families; especially during moments of hardships. 

  • Child care providers reinforce familiar routines and offer secure, high quality and nurturing care to children to promote healthy development and growth.  
  • Overwhelmed parents and caregivers can more easily focus on meeting their goals toward stable housing and employment/training if they know their child is safe and receiving quality care. 

Local and National Resources

Get tips on how YOU can best serve children and families experiencing homelessness.

 

Download PDF

Share this poster promoting CCR&R services with partners who work with young families at risk of homelessness. 

Download PDF


Join Child Care Aware® of America and the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) for a webinar on serving homeless children under the Child Care and Development Fund Program.

View Webinar

Complete a series of interactive learning modules related to family homelessness, from the National Center on Parent, Family, Community Engagement. 

View Series


This self-assessment tool from the Administration for Children and Families, is a guide to creating early childhood settings that support the safe and healthy development of young children experiencing homelessness. 

Use Tool

Take Action 

  • Draw upon the comprehensive Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) tools and materials referenced all throughout this page to develop or enhance training for staff and professional development for child care providers on serving families experiencing homelessness. For example, share the Serving Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness Tipsheet with providers.  
  • Connect with a Homelessness subject matter expert from Child Care Aware® of America for one on one guidance and support for your agency. 
  • Collaborate with your CCDF State Administrator to support implementation of your state’s plan to meet CCDBG requirements for serving families experiencing homelessness.  
  • Reach out to your state homelessness coordinator and local homelessness liaison to coordinate services for families experiencing homelessness in your community.   
  • Identify local organizations that serve families and children experiencing homelessness for networking and for referring to families.  Promote CCR&R services to these new partners, for example share this poster. 
  • Encourage child care providers to refer families to their local CCRR for help accessing child care subsidies, child care referrals and additional social services, such as TANF, SNAP, WIC and Medicaid.
  • Join a homeless coalition in your state to collaborate with community organizations that support families experiencing homelessness.  Advocate for the needs of children to service providers who work with families at risk for or experiencing homelessness.  

 

Additional Homelessness Resources

 Click on the PDF below for national and local resources to help you support families experiencing homelessness.

Download PDF

Have Questions?

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