Identifying Homeless Students for Educational Support Services

What was the challenge?

There are over one million students experiencing homelessness in the United States. Students who lack fixed and stable housing are entitled to receive additional educational supports including immediate enrollment, free meals, transportation to their school of origin regardless of a change in residence, and additional tutoring and educational supports. However, many homeless students remain unidentified and therefore do not access the supportive services that can make a difference in their education and lives.

What was the program change?

New email communication materials were developed using behavioral insights to share simplified information with Local Education Authorities (LEAs) homeless liaisons and superintendents in New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York to help them accurately identify homeless students in their districts and schools.

How did the evaluation work?

LEAs were randomly assigned to use one of two conditions: 1) less frequent, more formal emails on updated guidance (control); or 2) a modified set of timely emails informed by behavioral science principles(treatment).

What was the impact?

After the school year, LEAs in the intervention group identified on average 3.62 more homeless students, a 12% relative change compared to the control group baseline average.

Year

2018

Agency

Department of Education

Domain

Communications

Resources

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