Target: Washington State Legislators
Goal: Facilitate collaboration between schools and social services to improve overall support system for homeless students
Homelessness among students in Washington has grown significantly in recent years, and schools are struggling to provide the necessary resources and support for these disadvantaged youth. A federal law, the McKinney-Vento Act provides valuable, but limited funding to schools and not enough collaboration with social service resources in the community. Schools need help carrying out the aims of the McKenny-Vento Act, developing collaboration with housing agencies, and ensuring that all homeless students are aware of available resources.
Over a period of five years (ending in 2011), the percentage of homeless students in Washington rose more than 50%. The Mckinney-Vento Act classifies homelessness broadly to include all those without a satisfactory residence at night. Students in this position are likely to have problems in school, but it often does not come out until later that they are homeless.
The act allocates funds for schools to pay for services such as transportation to and from school. However, this federal grant funding is very limited and schools need additional help implementing the legislation, especially when it comes to finding and connecting with the students who need help. Washington schools need a much more comprehensive plan to help homeless students.
An important step is connecting schools with housing agencies and community social services, so that teachers and school officials who recognize and care about a student’s position can guide them towards constructive support. Though additional funding is desperately needed, there are viable services in communities for homeless students as long as further communication and collaboration between these resources and schools is developed.
Please encourage Washington legislators to help schools be more aware and supportive of homeless students; and to prioritize creating functional connections between schools and community resources.
Dear Washington State Legislators,
Washington schools need help supporting the growing number of homeless students in the state. These students need extra help getting to and from school, succeeding in the classroom, and accessing the community resources of social services and housing. In addition to further implementing the McKinney-Vento Act, Washington State needs to fund and develop ways to help schools provide sufficient support to disadvantaged homeless students.
School officials and teachers need better ways to become aware of and connect with homeless students so that they can provide extra support at school, and guide them towards outside services. Further, schools need to collaborate with community resources such as social services and housing agencies that can constructively improve the lives of these students.
Communities are working to make housing more accessible to homeless families. For example, Olympia, Washington is planning a new emergency shelter for families with children in an unused city building. Please encourage projects like this one in addition to working towards connecting schools with such services. Ensure schools develop ways to connect with homeless students who need help, and collaborate with housing agencies and social services so that students receive meaningful guidance.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: USDAgov via Flickr