HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal authorities have approved Connecticut’s plan to spend $7.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help schools identify students who are homeless and help make sure they can still attend school.

Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, who announced Thursday that the funding has been approved, said the Connecticut State Department of Education is trying to make sure students experiencing homelessness and unstable housing situations receive the behavioral health and academic help they need so they can go to school and fully participate in school activities.

“This funding will enable CSDE to provide direct support to schools and districts to identify and support students during this critical time,” she said in a statement.

Funding for Connecticut’s plan, which received input from students, families, school staff and community groups, comes as problems like homelessness have intensified over the past 20 months of the pandemic, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

Earlier this month, there were nearly 2,000 individuals in the state experiencing homelessness, according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.

Of the $7.2 million approved, $5.4 million will be distributed to local school districts so they can implement programs to make sure children and youth experiencing homelessness will have immediate and consistent access to public education. The remaining $1.8 million will be set aside for statewide efforts, including training and other initiatives.

The funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan, the massive COVID-19 relief package.