The U.S. Department of Education is urging states to finish their applications for Round 2 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY), which will deliver a collective $600 million in additional support to students in dire need this summer and before the start of the school year, according to a report in District Administration.

In April, the department gave states $200 million through the fund to help school districts offset the disparities homeless students faced during the pandemic, both in terms of learning loss and other inequities further fueled by COVID-19.

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness and the National Conference of State Legislators, there are approximately 2.5 million homeless children, or 1 in every 30 kids, in the U.S. That number may fluctuate as family members who lost jobs during the pandemic and have been relying on unemployment benefits could see them significantly reduced in 26 states. Leaders say it is imperative that ARP-HCY funds be used to provide wraparound services to students.

Some students faced additional challenges during the past year after schools shut down and provided solely remote learning options during the pandemic. Many became difficult to track for schools and districts. Aside from learning loss in classrooms, those students also missed out on regular school activities.

Once they apply, states will get funds that they can then distribute to districts via formula subgrants, especially those that have not previously received funding for student homelessness. According to the department, “under the final requirements that will be published in the Federal Register, states are required to distribute funds to school districts via a formula that uses the district’s allocation under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the number of identified homeless children and youth in either the 2018-19 or 2019-20 school year, whichever number is greater.”

The $800 million strategy is one of the many initiatives that have been undertaken by the Biden Administration to reopen schools safely and support students and educators under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Aside from funding, districts can leverage a number of resources, including three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook and the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse.