Leveraging Data to Support Children Experiencing Homelessness

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodMay 22 2020

States and communities lack accurate and reliable data on young children’s housing status. This can challenge states in their efforts to identify young children experiencing homelessness and to provide important supports to their families, such as enrollment in early care and education (ECE) and housing assistance. In addition, the lack of strong data may hinder states’ abilities to estimate rates of early childhood homelessness to support projections of service needs and allocation of resources to better assist these children and their families. The purpose of this research brief is to understand the challenges that states and communities face in using data, as well as potential opportunities for strengthening data collected to estimate rates of early childhood homelessness and identify young children experiencing homelessness.

This report begins with a discussion of the various federal definitions of homelessness and the federal data sources that influence how states and communities collect data on young children experiencing homelessness. The report then summarizes findings from a series of key respondent interviews with agency or organization leaders in selected states and communities to highlight challenges and promising practices around data on early childhood homelessness. The brief concludes with a summary of key themes, and based on these themes, provides future directions for strengthening data sources and data usage to support young children experiencing homelessness.

Photo by: Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education


This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.