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Following the conversation with students who have experienced homelessness, Senator Murray announces $12,134,870 in American Rescue Plan funding to support Washington state students experiencing homelessness

Senator Murray: “I'll keep fighting to make sure students experiencing homelessness not only get enrolled in school, but also get the kind of support and stability they need so they can learn and grow in the classroom” 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), and students from across the country who have experienced homelessness. The students shared their experiences of being a student while also experiencing homelessness and the impact the pandemic has had on them and other students who have had similar experiences.

Along with the roundtable, Senator Murray and the Department of Education announced plans to distribute $12,134,870 to Washington state and $800 million nationally to help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) fund. Senator Murray was instrumental in securing the funding in the American Rescue Plan.

"This past year has been so difficult for every student, parent and educator across the country—but what students experiencing homelessness have gone through is unthinkable. The first thing we told people during this pandemic was to 'stay home.' But so many students don't have a safe place to call home, access to internet, devices, or critical services that students have relied on to learn during this pandemic," said Senator Murray. "We fought hard to make sure the American Rescue Plan includes dedicated funding for students experiencing homelessness, and that the Department of Education is acting quickly to get these resources to our communities. I'll keep fighting to make sure students experiencing homelessness not only get enrolled in school, but also get the kind of support and stability they need so they can learn and grow in the classroom."

"The pandemic made the inequities in our education system even worse, especially for students experiencing homelessness," said Secretary Cardona. "As districts and schools return to in-person learning, we must act with urgency to provide all students, including students experiencing homelessness, equitable access to high-quality learning environments and the resources to help meet their basic needs which schools often provide."

Alongside the announcement, the Department of Education issued a letter to Chief State School Officers underscoring the urgent need to use this funding to identify homeless children and youth, provide wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide assistance to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities, including in-person instruction this spring and upcoming summer learning and enrichment programs. $3,033,718 of Washington state’s funding will be distributed Monday and the remaining funds will be allocated as soon as June.

Senator Murray’s full remarks from the event, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Hi everyone. Thanks so much to Secretary Cardona for hosting this important event, as well as Senator Manchin and my fellow senators, for their continued partnership to address the needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.

“And thanks most of all to the students who are joining us today to share your personal stories—which I know can be incredibly challenging, but also incredibly powerful.

“This past year has been so difficult for every student, parent and educator across the country.But what students experiencing homelessness have gone through is unthinkable.

“It’s not lost on me: the first thing we told people during this pandemic was to “stay home.” But so many students don’t have a safe place to call “home.” And that just breaks my heart.

“And then we asked our students to learn virtually. But how can you do that if you don’t have a computer or internet?

“Not to mention, for over a year, you haven’t been able to see your friends, your teachers, or your coaches, which has taken a toll on students across the country.

“And with everything that you all are facing, you have also been left without the mental or emotional support that frankly we all need, especially during this incredibly difficult time.

“And while this past year has just been so heavy—with many challenges piled on top your shoulders—I know that it certainly wasn’t easy before the pandemic. As a mom and a grandmother, my heart truly goes out to you—because these are struggles that no kid should have to bear.  

“But please know that I am fighting for you—we hear you, and you are not alone. 

“We made sure there’s dedicated support in the American Rescue Plan. And one of my longstanding priorities is the McKinney Vento Act—a law that helps make sure students experiencing homelessness not only get enrolled in school—but get the kind of support and stability they need so they can learn and grow in the classroom, and just get to be kids.

“We won’t stop there, either—so thank you again for sharing your stories.  I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and I’ll turn it back over.” 

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