State To Get $6.4 Million For Students Experiencing Homelessness


New Mexico will receive $6.4 million from the federal government over the next two months to help identify and provide services to children and youth experiencing homelessness, the Public Education Department announced Monday.

The funding is New Mexico’s share of $800 million authorized by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act to enable children and youth experiencing homelessness to attend school and participate fully in school activities, including in-person instruction this spring and upcoming summer enrichment programs.

The new funds can be used for almost any purpose that achieves those goals — for example, providing needed supplies, transportation, short-term temporary housing and mental health services. 

“This is a wonderful new asset to help meet students’ most basic needs so they can succeed academically despite their families’ current housing situation,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “Every child should be able to participate fully in their education no matter the barriers. Congress recognized that when it appropriated this money to help our neediest students.”

At last count, New Mexico had 6,573 students experiencing homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the allocations in a letter sent Friday (attached) that included directions for administering, distributing and spending the money.

This funding will supplement money states already receive through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. In the current fiscal year, New Mexico received  $793,000 through that act. Part of that money pays for a state program coordinator, who also will administer the new funds. 

States will receive 25% of their total allocation immediately — that’s $1.6 million for New Mexico. That first distribution must be used to address urgent student needs, whether academic, social, emotional or mental health. The Public Education Department will reserve no more than 25% for state-level programs including training, technical assistance and engagement with local educational agencies, which will receive the bulk of the new funds.

Funding per district or charter school from this new allocation will be based on the current distribution of  McKinney-Vento funds. 

The remaining 75% will be released after the state submits a plan describing how the funds will be used at the state level and how money will be distributed to individual districts and state charters. That could be as soon as June, the letter stated.

State coordinators of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act are meeting virtually this week to receive additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. New Mexico’s plan will take shape following that meeting, said Dana Malone, the New Mexico Public Education Department’s coordinator.