On Thursday, March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) into law. In recognition of the extraordinary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students experiencing homelessness, the ARP included an unprecedented $800 million to support the specific needs of homeless children and youth via the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Fund. State educational agencies and local educational agencies (LEAs) must use ARP-HCY funds to identify homeless children and youth, to provide homeless children and youth with wrap-around services to address the challenges of COVID-19, and to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and fully participate in school activities. The Department will release ARP-HCY funds in two separate disbursements (ARP Homeless I and ARP Homeless II)
ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Fund
ARP-HCY funds are intended to support the specific and urgent needs of homeless children and youth in recognition of the extraordinary impact of the pandemic on students experiencing homelessness. LEAs should use these funds to focus on identifying students and to connect students experiencing homelessness and their families to summer learning and enrichment programs this summer (summer 2021), and to engage students and their families in preparation for this fall. LEAs with sufficient funds are encouraged to award contracts to community-based organizations for help to identify historically underserved populations such as rural children and youth, Tribal children and youth, students of color, children and youth with disabilities, English learners, LGBTQ+ youth, and pregnant, parenting, or caregiving students experiencing homelessness, as well as to provide wraparound services to these students.
The grant period shall be for two years. The full amount of the grant will be awarded in the first year. Grantees may choose to expend all their funds during the 21-22 school year or may elect to carryover a portion of their funding to provide services into the 22-23 school year. All funds must be obligated by September 30, 2023.
Grantees for the ARP-HCY I funds must be current McKinney-Vento subgrantees or must be a district identified by the OPI has having a “significant concentration” of students identified as experiencing homelessness. Such districts must have identified such students in an amount that is greater than, or equal to, the lowest number of students identified by a McKinney-Vento subgrantee recipient.
All students identified as homeless by the grantee must be marked in the Achievement in Montana (AIM) System. This identification includes their nighttime status and whether they are an unaccompanied youth (not in the custody of a parent or legal guardian). All additional reporting requirements will be pulled from the AIM system by OPI HCY program staff or the federal programs data analyst. Grantees may be required to report additional information at the request of the U.S. Department of Education.
Availability of Funds:
ARP-HCY I funds were made available as of March 2021, and subgrantees may use these funds to cover allowable expenditures as of that date. ARP-HCY I funds have been made available through a one-time-only grant under the American Recovery Plan. Eligibility for these funds is not a guarantee of future funding under the McKinney-Vento Act or other similar appropriations for programs that support the education of homeless children and youth. The minimum amount of any award shall not be less than $5,000, and a minimum of 13 projects will be awarded.
ARP-HCY I funds are to be used to supplement, not supplant, existing services and programs provided by the applicants or otherwise available to targeted individuals. Services provided to students identified as homeless must be in addition to services provided to all students using local, state, tribal, or federal funds.
Uses of ARP-HCY I Funds:
LEAs may use ARP-HCY I Funds to:
- Identify homeless children and youth
- Provide comprehensive wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Provide needed assistance to enable homeless children and youth to attend and participate fully in school activities, such as:
- In-person instruction
- Spring and summer learning
- Enrichment programs