The U.S. Department of Education released Non-Regulatory Guidance: Early Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Highlights from the guidance follow:
PRESCHOOL SUPPORTS UNDER MCKINNEY-VENTO (pages 12-13)
The guidance summarizes key supports for young homeless children included in ESSA amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act. These supports include requiring SEAs and LEAs to review and revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success of children who are homeless, including those in preschool. Additional new protections include the expansion of the definition of “school of origin” to include public preschools, and the provision of school-of-origin transportation if this is requested by the parent or guardian. See Section N: Early Childhood Homelessness in the updated Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance, available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/160240ehcyguidance072716.pdf, for more information about McKinney-Vento supports for young homeless children.
SERVING YOUNG HOMELESS CHILDREN UNDER TITLE I, PART A (pages 9-11)
The guidance provides information on how schools and districts can use Title I, Part A funds to support preschool programs. Table 1 on page 10 (Mechanisms by which schools and LEAs can use Title I, Part A funds to support preschool programs) is particularly helpful. Preschool-age children experiencing homelessness are automatically eligible to participate in Title I preschool programs; as such, LEAs and schools do not need to identify young homeless children as most at-risk of failing to meet academic standards before serving them with Title I funds.
ESSA amendments to Title I, Part A also address the needs of children who are homeless by expanding the use of homeless set-aside funds to encompass all children who are homeless (including preschool-age), not just those in non-Title I schools.
SERVING YOUNG HOMELESS CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS (page 13)
ESSA amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act require local liaisons to ensure that eligible infants and toddlers and their families who are homeless can access early intervention services under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and that eligible preschool children with disabilities who are homeless can access special education and related services under Part B of the IDEA.
ENSURING ALIGNMENT, COORDINATION, AND COLLABORATION (pages 16-18)
Alignment and collaboration between early childhood education programs and the K–12 system is a recurring theme throughout ESSA. ESSA stresses greater coordination at the state and local levels of programs that serve young children. In order to accomplish this, the guidance encourages states and districts to focus on consistency of program and professional standards across programs and settings that serve a particular age or grade. Specifically mentioned is the need to coordinate the provision of services to young children under the Head Start, Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), and IDEA Programs. For more information about serving young homeless children under these programs, visit NCHE’s Head Start, CCDF, or IDEA webpages.