- Childcare, early education, and K-12 programs vary by state.
- Payments on federal student loans are on pause while courts review the new student loan debt relief program.
Childcare and Early Education
- Head Start: Families can apply for a local Head Start program online (en Español) or by calling 1-866-763-6481. Children automatically qualify automatically if their family is experiencing homelessness, receives food assistance (SNAP), receives financial assistance (TANF/SSI), or if they are a foster family. Early Head Start (pregnancy, 0-2 years old), Head Start (3-5 years old), Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (pregnancy, 0-5 years old), and American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start (pregnancy, 0-5).
- Childcare: Families can apply for child care financial assistance through their state’s program (en Español). Military families who are on the waitlist for Military Child Care can apply for a fee assistance program offered by their Service.
- Home Visiting: Parents and guardians can look at the individual agencies that offer home visiting services and select the one that best addresses their needs.
Elementary and Secondary Education (K-12)
- School Lunch: The nationwide universal free school program ended. Some states are still offering free meals through the end of the 2022-23 school year. If a state ended their universal program, students may still be eligible for free lunch if they attend a school covered by the Community Eligibility Provision. Individual students may also qualify for free lunch because their household gets food assistance (SNAP), financial assistance (TANF), or tribal assistance (FDPIR); or by meeting the requirements for their state’s National School Lunch Program.
- Summer Meals: When school is not in session, the Summer Food Service Program helps states provide free meals and snacks to children at designated meal sites.
- Special Education: At no cost, a student with a disability can request an IEP or 504 Plan to make sure their school is meeting their unique needs.
- Education Vacancies: There is a nationwide shortage of teachers, paraprofessionals, and bus drivers. This has been particularly difficult for students with disabilities as many schools are unable to provide them with specialized services.
University and Federal Student Loans
- Work Readiness: Job Corps provides a residential work readiness program for students (16-24 years old). Interested students can apply online (en Español).
- Immigration Status: Each state has a different policy on whether students without documentation can pay in-state tuition, receive financial aid. The Higher Ed Immigration Portal keeps an up-to-date list with state specifics.
- Federal Student Loans: A lawsuit is blocking the federal student loan debt relief program from going into effect. New applications for this program are not currently being accepted. The ED extended the student loan repayment pause until 60 days after the lawsuit is resolved or at the latest August 29, 2023. Borrowers can sign up for email updates. Even during the lawsuit, borrowers who work in public service can still apply for loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Spotlight on non-discrimination
Any school or or program that receives money from the ED cannot discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.
- Language Access: They must offer language access assistance to all students with limited English proficiency and communicate in a language their guardians understand.
- Immigration Status: They cannot deny access to students based on their immigration status. In other words, students without documentation have a right to attend school.
- Disability: They must work to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
If a person believes they have been discriminated against and they share that with your care team, direct them to the Office for Civil Rights (en Español). This federal office enforces federal civil rights laws.
The Bottom Line
- Many childhood programs, K-12 schools, and higher education receive funding from their state, however, much of that funding originates with the federal government. As a result, care teams can affect change in education by advocating at any level – federal, state, or local.