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McKinney-Vento American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

ARRA Program Resource Guide

The following are of some best practices, innovative programs and state and local resources available in Massachusetts that school districts are encouraged to consider as they apply for McKinney-Vento homeless education funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Each entry is designed to enhance the capacity of the district and its state and local human service partners to educate and support homeless children and youth. Districts should assess their ability to address the needs of homeless students and their families systematically and use McKinney-Vento Recovery and Reinvestment funds to develop a program that addresses current gaps in services and builds present and future capacity.

Key Questions to Consider in Developing a McKinney-Vento American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant Application

  • Has the district identified and trained a school-based "homeless point person" thus helping to create a network to assist the Homeless Education Liaison in the identification of students already enrolled in the district who become homeless?
  • Have school personnel including guidance counselors, social workers, and teachers been trained in homelessness?
  • Has the district created a homeless resource map so that identifying staff know where to send the homeless student/family for assistance?
  • Is the school system trauma informed - that is, has the district/school climate adapted to the meet the needs associated with the disruption in the lives of the homeless?
  • Has the district created a school/district culture in which addressing needs of homeless has become embedded in their daily lives?

For further information or technical assistance please contact the ESE Office for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth:

Peter D. Cirioni, State Coordinatorpcirioni@doe.mass.edu781-338-6294
Sarah Slautterback, Staff Specialistsslautterback@doe.mass.edu781-338-6330

Best Practices

The following practices have been particularly helpful in identifying and serving homeless students in Massachusetts public schools. Most are also self-sustaining once established.

Professional Development

Knowledge about homelessness, its impact on learning, and appropriate services and educational strategies for homeless children and youth goes a long way in identifying and supporting students who either arrive in the district homeless or who are currently enrolled in school and lose their housing. The most successful professional development should include a wide range of participants, in particular enrollment staff from Parent Information Centers, school nurses, guidance counselors and School Social Workers as well as faculty, and administrators.

Presentations to school committee members can also support the work going on within the district and heighten awareness in the community.

Note: effective professional development occurs over time; therefore, districts should strongly consider systematically planning and then conducting the professional development over the two-year allocation period.

Informational briefs, Power Point presentations and online training are available from:

View External Link
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
View External Link
My own four walls from Hear Us
View External Link
The National Runaway Switchboard

Centralized Enrollment

Parent Information Centers ensure a clear and consistent enrollment process for all children within a district and are particularly helpful for homeless children. Well trained Center staff is prepared to handle issues that arise from homelessness such as lack of academic and medical records, confidential addresses and safety planning, transportation, and can start the process of assessing needs.

Transportation Hub

Transportation for homeless students across school zones and district lines can be very challenging, expensive and time consuming. For districts with large numbers of homeless students being transported there may be significant value in setting up a central drop off and pick site within the district. This transportation hub accommodates different start times, allows for a single trip and travel together for siblings, and a time and place for a snack and homework help. A handful of districts have done this on a family by family basis. Springfield Public Schools have begun to do this on a much large scale with very positive results. For further information contact Gary Lantaigne (413-787-7000).

Informational Brochures

One of the big barriers to enrollment and identification of homeless students is the lack of information available with in the district and community. Districts often find it helpful to develop an informational brochure highlighting the educational rights of homeless students, contact information for the homeless education liaison and local available services. Distribution of a brochure should include Parent Information Centers/enrollment sites, the schools' Main Offices, nurse's offices, community service providers, police and fire stations, public libraries and other public places where homeless families receive services. Remember to make information available in the languages most helpful for families in your district.

Brochures and posters can be locally designed or downloaded/ordered from:

View External Link
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
View External Link
My own four walls from Hear Us
View External Link
The National Runaway Switchboard

School/Building Liaison Network

Districts with many schools and buildings have found it most effective and efficient to establish a liaison or contact person in each building to work the district's homeless education liaison. This practice facilitates identification and the provision of services to homeless students and collection of data.

Parent Education

Many homeless parents are unaware of their children's educational rights under McKinney-Vento, local resources, or educational opportunities for themselves. Homeless liaisons find it helpful to team up their Title I director for educational opportunities for parents and as a system of outreach to families and dissemination of McKinney-Vento materials. Programs like First Stop (see below) can also be used to provide financial literacy training and access to various benefits. Development of a local resource guide can provide further connections and support for parents addressing the multiple impacts of homelessness.

Unaccompanied Youth

Unaccompanied youth present a range of needs even a district experienced in homelessness finds difficult to address; even identifying this population presents a challenge. For example alternative education and credit recovery options need to be in place because the typical unaccompanied youth's age is often inappropriate for their grade placement.

Informational resources on unaccompanied youth include:

View External Link
Using What We Know: Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
View External Link
Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005)
View External Link
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Dealing with Trauma in Children and Youth

Children rely on the stability and predictability of their environment and the availability of dependable caretakers to maintain a sense of safety and wellbeing. In the wake of homelessness much of what is familiar to a child is disrupted besides their home, school, or possibly separation from family members, caretakers, and pets. In understanding a child's reaction to homelessness, it is necessary to consider the child's stage of psychological development as well as the level of their exposure to the trauma and their prior life context.

Contact Massachusetts Advocates for Children regarding two important resources on the website in the area of:
Helping Traumatized Children Learn
Educational Rights of Children Affected by Homelessness and/or Domestic Violence

Other resources on trauma:

View External Link
Children's Awareness Day
View External Link
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
View External Link
National Center on Family Homelessness

Innovative Programs

The following programs are new but are demonstrating promising signs of success addressing some of the needs of homeless students. Each of the two initiatives listed below build capacity through service coordination and collaboration to ensure educational stability and improved attendance and academic performance.

First Stop Initiative

ARRA Stimulus funds provided through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act may support implementing Massachusetts Coalition's First Stop Initiative that provides a district with a sustainable program to homeless students and their families by addressing the following ARRA fund priorities.

  • professional development programs designed to raise awareness among educators, pupil services personnel, administrators, and school committees regarding the rights and special needs of homeless students; and

  • education and training programs for parents of homeless students, regarding the rights their children have as homeless students, the educational and other resources available to their children, and in activities needed to ensure the meaningful involvement of homeless parents in their children's education.

Housing for Unaccompanied Youth

The Lynn Housing Authority has been working with Lynn Public Schools to provide rental vouchers and housing units for unaccompanied high school seniors that are tied to the completion of their diplomas. Wrap around services include housing advocacy, financial literacy classes, tutoring, career/job counseling, and college planning. Though still new this local partnership has already stabilized a few students and has potential to help many more. For more information contact Lynn's Homeless Education Liaison, Mary Ellen Connelly (781-477-7220 x207).

Additional State and Local Resources

The Commonwealth and its communities have many services and resources to offer homeless families. Currently the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH) is working to coordinate services and improve access for families that have gone homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. ICHH sees school districts as early warning systems, often identifying and serving families before they enter the state's shelter system.

Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness

On December 16, 2008 The Patrick-Murray Administration awarded $8 million to eight regional pilot networks around the state. The networks will help better coordinate, integrate and implement innovative services focused on securing permanent housing options for homeless individuals and families, and ultimately lessen the need for emergency assistance shelters.

  • Contact the ICHH

    Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness
    Robert Pulster, Executive Director
    100 Cambridge Street, Suite 300
    Boston, MA 02114
    Tel: 617-573-1106
    Fax: 617-573-1120

Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness Regional Network Contacts

Regional Networks for Housing and Homelessness*

Contact Information for Network Staff:

Boston: Elizabeth Doyle
edoyle.dnd@cityofboston.gov
617-635-3880

Metro Boston: Mary Doyle
Mary.Doyle@mbhp.org
617-425-6694

South Shore: Joyce Tavon
JoyceTavon@uwgpc.org
508-583-6306 x 108

Cape Cod and Islands: Beth Albert
balbert@barnstablecounty.org
508-375-6628

North Shore: Beth Hogan
bhogan4079@aol.com
978-531-0767

Merrimack Valley: Ed Cameron
ecameron@comteam.org
978-459-0551

Worcester: Tom Gregory
GregoryT@ci.worcester.ma.us
508-799-1222

Western Massachusetts: Gerry McCafferty
GMcCafferty@springfieldcityhall.com
413-787-6500

* There will be a two more Regional Networks, serving Metro West and South Coastal. Once they are operational, contact information will follow.



Last Updated: July 13, 2009
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