Families with Children Committee: Back-to-school reports and the future of joint FWC-FHI meetings

Our Families with Children (FWC) Committee gathered in September to discuss the future of its new quarterly joint meeting with the Committee to End Homelessness’ Family Homelessness Initiative. They also reported back on the start of the new school year for the students who are homeless that they serve. Here are some brief notes from the discussion:

HOW DID START OF SCHOOL GO FOR MCKINNEY-VENTO STUDENTS?
Please be sure to e-mail rebecca[at]homelessinfo[dot]org
with your back-to-school experience(s).

  • Backlog of enrollment paperwork
    • In Seattle, had students who didn’t go the first 2 days of school because of this.
    • Others said the first two days of school had VERY fast turn-around re: paperwork, but slowed significantly after that.
  • Transportation
    • Reports of buses  being 1.5 hours late – A. Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Reports of taxis being 2 hours late – A.Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Case Manager said she went above and beyond to verify and confirm – multiple times – that the orders were correct. And still, these delays happened. She even had a taxi with incorrect orders and wouldn’t take the student to the correct school!
    • In West Seattle, it took one week to get a bus to pick up a student.
    • Safety concerns of younger students being assigned ORCA cards instead of a taxi or bus
    • No one reported ORCA card issues (e.g., then not being loaded)
    • Multiple people reported having concerns and questions around the 1-mile rule  (i.e., no transportation, must walk). Case Manager said that 2-mile rule for homeless families who live in Queen Anne is quite difficult. There is a much greater impact of this rule for families who are homeless
  • Proactive and flexible engagement from Liaison
    • Liaison w/ Lowel (school) came to provider to talk through McK-V and connect with families. SUPER HELPFUL
  • In class/Teacher issues
    • Parent said middle-school aged son was marked down in class because he didn’t have correct school supplies. The teacher didn’t know he was McK-V student. KS worked with Child Care Resources to get supplies, and to report to principal and work with teacher. School doesn’t seem to understand that they’re ‘on the hook’ to do better. And Jr. high and HS is very challenging because there are so many more teachers.
    • Parent shared that her other child is being pulled out of SpEd by the school. This doesn’t make sense since her child is visually impaired.
  • Agency Supports
    • Sacred Heart said things went really well. They met with families earlier than normal, and that was a big help.

CEH/FHI DISCUSSION -  future conversations, points of learning

  • Strategies
  • Shared results
  • Topics:
    • DIVERSION
    • SYSTEMS REALIGNMENT: changing of housing stock, realignment
    • DATA – there’s such a focus on quantitative, but where’s qualitative. And how do we ensure that happens? Idea for FWC to organize around this as combined we have huge amounts of rich experience w/I organizations and families served.
    • re: RRH: feels like there are high expectations, and there’s a reality of the affordability of housing. Not easy, not quick process. Landlords aren’t exactly on-tap.
    • LANDLORD ENGAGEMENT: Concerns about TANF families who have gotten housing in rental market. While no case manager wants to stop homeless families from becoming housed, we want to do everything to make sure that they aren’t “rapidly unhoused.”
    • ACCESSIBILITY OF UNITS
    • REFERRAL PROCESS: many involved in the Pilot said they have empty units, and are loosing money. Families are being referred that don’t actually qualify.
    • “BARRIER REMOVAL WITHIN SYSTEM”
    • RRH – after the pilot is over: what modifications do we suggest, and how can we work to follow up. Discussion about how and when evaluation is conducted.
    • EVALUATION: want to truly understand what this means, when it happens, what’s involved, who does it, etc.
    • OUTCOMES: “who’s the keeper of transparency in that system”
    • DEFINITION OF SUCCESS: what is the definition, who defines it, is it open to suggestion, and in what ways does it differ from our organizations’ definition of success?
  • Meeting structure: this is what the group wants to hear more about at each joint meeting, and especially the upcoming joint meeting. [ we spoke about the RRH pilot evaluation process as an example]
    • Who makes decisions
    • Who’s involved in the committees, subcommittees, participating agencies, etc.
    • Who is the audience of each of the FHI, CEH, FWC mtgs?
    • Who has influence? And to what degree?
    • Families who have voice – how does FHI reach out to them, and where can others input?
    • Clarity – generally speaking
    • Focused guiding questions are very helpful, but don’t need handouts early.
    • Comment: “Will what we say have an impact?”
    • Funders: taking a backseat would be helpful, and make sure that they are clear on focus of meeting.
    • Request for built-in structural parameters of what’s being facilitated, and who is facilitating.

In lieu of the regularly-scheduled November FWC meeting, please mark your calendars and plan to attend the November 6 community meeting on Family Coordinated Entry.

The consultants contracted to review our community’s coordinated entry for families – Katharine Gale and Kate Bristol (Focus Strategies) – will review their findings, present information on other  system models, and facilitate dialogue around key challenges. This is an open meeting for all, not just organizations who participated in the Pilot project. Your presense, comments, and feedback are important — join us!

Community Meeting on Family Coordinated Entry
Thursday, November 6, 2014 from 9 am – 12-noon
Tukwila Community Center, Banquet Room
12424 42nd Ave S., Tukwila, WA 98168
For questions and to RSVP, please contact michelle[dot]valdez[at]cehkc[dot]org

Resources from our “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101″ workshop

Link

Help and support signpostWe had such a great turnout at our “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101” workshop on August 26, 2014, and we hope you found the topic just as engaging and informative as we do. As promised, here is a list of resources our wonderful presenter, Katara Jordan from Columbia Legal Services, put together to navigate common hurdles that prevent homeless students and their families from accessing the valuable services they need to get to and stay in school.

Basic Education Rights and Opportunities in Public Schools

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_basic_education_rights.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_basic_education_rights_spanish.pdf

How to be an Education Advocate

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_education_advocate.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_education_advocate_spanish.pdf

Protecting the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_students_with_disabilities.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_students_with_disabilities_spanish.pdf

Ombudsman’s services

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/2a_english.pdf

Other general information including the above handouts:

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/default.asp

Serving Students Experiencing Homelessness under Title I

http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/titlei.pdf

What Service Providers Should Know

http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/service_providers.pdf

Washington HomelessYouth.org Project

http://homelessyouth.org/washington

 

Literacy Source: Free classes and tutoring for adults

The content of this post was created by Lynn Livesley, Executive Director of Literary Source – A Community Learning Center. 

Literacy Source September is back to school time – even for adults! 

New student orientations begin on September 8th at Literacy Source, with fall classes beginning September 15th.  Please help us spread the word about opportunities for adults (18+) to build skills:

  • Help with basic skills (reading, writing, math and English)
  • Free small classes and one-on-one tutoring
  • Daytime or evening options
  • Citizenship classes and help with naturalization applications
  • High school completion options (National External Diploma Program and GED prep)
  • ESL classes in Seattle, SeaTac (with childcare provided) and Tukwila

Classes in Seattle are located at the Literacy Source community learning center on multiple bus lines in Fremont – 720 N. 35th Street.  ESL classes are also held at the Tukwila Community Center and Angle Lake Family Resource Center in SeaTac.

Please forward this message to individuals you think might be interested in learning about these services, and call 206.782.2050 if you would like any additional information.

You can use this flyer with tear-offs with our phone number for hanging: Literacy Source Fall 2014 flyer.

 

Register today — ‘Helping Homeless Students’ workshop

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for
Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 workshop
Tuesday, August 26, 9.00 – 11.15 a.m.
Highline College in Des Moines, WA
FREE, but pre-registration required!

The Coalition’s “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101″ workshop is designed for school staff, nurses, and case managers to provide an overview of educational rights and common issues for homeless students. Presented by Katara Jordan, attorney with Columbia Legal Services, this workshop will introduce the federal McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, which promotes educational stability, school access, support for academic success, and child-centered decision-making for homeless youth, children, and families.

2013-14 Helping Homeless Students GuideIn addition to providing a better understanding of the law, we intend this workshop to serve as a timely, informative, and collaborative platform between school staff and community-based case managers to work together effectively to support homeless students and their families. We’ll cover the basics, and address common thorny issues related to enrollment and transportation; working with unaccompanied youth; and participation in after-school activities. Together we’ll problem-solve and share ideas and strategies for back-to-school and throughout the school year.

By the time you leave the training, you should have both a solid understanding of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, and valuable sources of information and professional resources to turn to within your local community, your school district, in Washington, and nationally to aid in your work to reach homeless youth at schools.

We are excited to bring staff from Coalition member agencies together with local public school staff to learn about the educational rights of homeless students, and how to support them at the start of the new school year.

Please help us spread the word, and register today!

Note: Registration priority will be given to Coalition members and staff at local public schools.

 

Help us spread the word about these fun, family-friendly events — all to support Project Cool!

There’s so much to love about Project Cool. One of my favorite parts is how it brings people together. For example, two groups – Northwest Honkers Baseball and Anything is Possible Theater – reached out to us because they wanted to support Project Cool at their upcoming summer events. Baseball, theater, and Project Cool? What lovely and fun partnerships!

I’m happy to announce these 5 fun, family-friendly community events, each to benefit Project Cool. Please help us spread the word about these great events!

#1  Robin HoodJoin us on June 21st for the Rainier Valley Cultural Center’s *Special Giving Night!* For one night only, your ticket will double as entry for the play and an after-play event. Theater fans will get the chance to gather under the stars for refreshments, beverages, and entertainment–all to benefit organizations working in our community to alleviate hunger and poverty–including the Rainier Valley Food Bank, Columbia City Church of Hope (Mary’s Place – Seattle), and Project Cool for Back-to-School. Don’t miss this wonderful production while supporting some great causes! Purchase your tickets here.

Where:3515 South Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98118 // When: Saturday, June 21 @ 7PM

#2-5  The Northwest Honkers baseball team has graciously designated a handful of home games, where attendees can either purchase items from the Project Cool Wish List or pay a $3 gate fee, which will be donated to Project Cool. Join the Honkers on the following days to show your support:

  • Thursday, July 3rd  at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. Laces
  • Tuesday, July 8th at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. Studs
  • Thursday, July 17th at 7 p.m. @ Shorecrest HS vs. Merchants
  • Tuesday, July 22nd at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. PBC Zips

Wanna help spread the love? Share this flyer with your networks: 2014 Project Cool Events_HonkersRobinHood

Project Cool 2014 is in full swing!

Project Cool Meme 2014

The cherry blossoms are blooming, the Mariner’s had their first at-home game of the season, and the sun is finally out in full force. With all these new beginnings, it’s a natural time to start Project Cool for Back-to-School, our Coalition’s beloved backpack and supply drive to support homeless students!

Learn more about Project Cool on our website, and keep reading to find out how you can get involved over the next few months to support homeless students through Project Cool.

Ready… Set… Go!

Here are 4 ways you can get involved:

  1. Supply Drives. Now is a great time to start your own donation supply drive, and encourage others to do the same. We hope you to have fun with them — there are so many ways to be creative and think outside the box. For example, Northwest Honkers Baseball will ask their game day patrons to donate school supplies in lieu of a gate fee during summer games. Use this Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List). Contact me if you’d like a tailored flyer.
  2. Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate to Project Cool.
  3. Sponsorship. Encourage your work, community group, bank, or faith organization to become a Project Cool Sponsor.
  4. Facebook. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook, invite your friends to do the same, and share posts to boost our reach online. Your action makes a huge difference!

And be sure to mark your calendars for Volunteer Days in early July 2014. During the first two weeks of July volunteers have fun counting, sorting, and organizing supplies to fill backpacks for distribution. We’d love your help, and we welcome groups! If you’d like to help or even arrange a group, then let me know.

Thank you for all you do to support Project Cool students!

 

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks?

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks? A lot of planning, a lot of supplies, a lot of backpacks, but most of all A LOT OF FANTASTIC VOLUNTEERS!

Nyree and a pile of backpacksDuring our five volunteer days, we had over 90 volunteers help stuff backpacks for nearly 1,300 homeless children. We had volunteers from age 4 – age 70+ volunteer with Project Cool this year to make sure that every homeless child served by Project Cool could go back to school in September equipped with the same tools for success as every other child in his or her class. Our youngest volunteers were truly some of the best volunteers, they worked hard and had excellent attitudes, even through the long 3 hour shifts when they had to carry heavy backpacks up long flights of stairs. One of our youngest volunteers even came up and asked me, “Can I volunteer with you again soon?” I told her that we would be happy to have her again next year, and she quickly told me, “But next year is SOOOOO far away!”

Bundling pens and pencils (5)Project Cool is truly a volunteer-powered project, and without these fantastic, hard-working, and enthusiastic volunteers, we would not be able to provide something so critical – a brand new backpack with school supplies – at the beginning of the school year to 1,300 homeless children in preschool – twelfth grade.  The gift of a new backpack gives both the parents and the kids one less thing to worry about – the parents don’t have to worry about one more thing to purchase that they can’t afford, and the kids don’t have to worry about being stigmatized at school because they can’t afford the right supplies or a backpack.

Bev and Steve from Windermere stuffing pre-k backpacksEven though the backpacks are all stuffed, Project Cool isn’t over yet! As you are shopping with your kids for their school supplies, think of ways that you might be able to support Project Cool through a school supply drive. We are already beginning to gear up for next year, and the best time to do that is when everything is on sale. If you would like to host a supply drive or find out how to host a supply drive, contact Kathryn Murdock, 2013 Project Cool Coordinator (projectcool@homelessinfo.org).

1,204 Homeless Children Ready for School Thanks to Project Cool

Be Cool! Project Cool for Back to School 2012 Buttons

After months of preparation, we are celebrating the smooth and successful distribution of 1,204 Project Cool backpacks to homeless children across King County. This August, more than 150 awesome volunteers gathered together over 4 days in the basement of the Columbia City Church of Hope to prepare school supplies and then fill and distribute backpacks for homeless students ages 3 to 18. You guys ROCK! Last Tuesday, Project Cool backpacks went out to 14 different Coalition member agencies to support the education of the children they serve in their various homeless housing programs (including emergency shelter and transitional housing).

We know the need is great. In the 2010-2011 school year, 4,423 students (pre-k through high school) were identified as homeless in King County school districts; 26,049 students across all Washington State schools. This was a 19% increase from the previous year and a 55% increase from 2006-2007 (for more information visit http://schoolhousewa.org/). A new backpack filled with the tools students need tells kids that they belong and gives parents one less financial burden to bear.

Backpacks may be out the door, but the work to support the education of homeless students does not stop here. Seattle Public School starts in just a couple weeks on September 5. The instability of homelessness makes stability in school that much more important for children. Luckily, homeless students have several educational rights under an important federal law – the McKinney Vento Education Act –, which helps advocates and families keep children in school even if they don’t have the right paperwork to enroll or their address changes every 60 days. The Coalition’s August 22 “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney Vento 101” training will prepare school personnel and service providers to help homeless students stay in school.

Eric joined us on August 11 with the RBUCC Youth Group. Filling hundreds of backpacks with school supplies can be tiring work!

None of this work could be possible without the support of the hundreds of individuals who hosted donation drives, donated personally, and volunteered to help prepare backpacks. Project Cool is a volunteer driven project – coordinated by an AmeriCorps VISTA and supported by people like you: concerned community members, local businesses, and Coalition members. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who came out on August 2, 4, 11, and 14 to help prepare Project Cool backpacks – we welcomed the passionate help of many community members including several old hats and Project Cool newbies like the Redmond Beach UCC Youth Group and members of local non-profit young professionals group, Ascend. THANK YOU!

Homelessness is Hard for Kids

Project Cool Donate Here poster

Project Cool Donate Here poster

Friday morning, Kathleen called me from the road: “Hi Ally, I’m about 5 minutes away. Do you have a cart that we could use to unload the supplies? I don’t think we can carry it all in a single trip.” Last Friday, Kathleen Cromp, member and Sunday school teacher at the University Unitarian Church and Executive Director of local nonprofit Wallingford Community Senior Center, dropped by the SKCCH office with the back seat of her car filled to the roof with school supplies for Project Cool for Back to School.

The numerous boxes and bags of supplies Kathleen had brought to donate was a result of her work with a Sunday school class of 2nd and 3rd graders at the University Unitarian Church. This spring the class discussed issues of homelessness in our community and after weeks of discussion the kids wanted to take action and do something to help. The class partnered with Project Cool for Back to School and hosted a supply drive at the University Unitarian Church to collect school supplies, toothbrushes, and toothpaste for homeless students across King County starting school in September. The students worked hard to bring in donations for Project Cool by making collection boxes, designing and hanging posters (like the one pictured here) to solicit donations, sending out emails to church members, and speaking about their supply drive in front of the entire congregation during Sunday church service!

These kids are right, homelessness is hard for kids. School can be an important source of stability for a child, especially when life outside of school is confusing and unpredictable. Just getting to school for a child staying at a shelter across town can be a nearly insurmountable challenge. Making sure children have the tools for success in school is a simple but important step in helping a homeless student fit in, learn, and go far.

As Kathleen and I unloaded boxes upon boxes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, folders, binders, glue sticks, crayons, paper, notebooks, pencils, and markers onto my cart last week, I was overcome by the generosity of the UUC congregation and the amazing impact that can be had when 15 youth speak up in support of equal education and opportunity for every student in our community.