Schools and districts are neither sufficiently staffed nor resourced to ensure students experiencing homelessness receive the support they need. For example, there are not enough McKinney-Vento homeless education liaisons, as found by the state auditor, “Statewide, districts dedicate an average of 0.4 of one full-time equivalent homeless liaison position to student homelessness, which is, on average, less than 20 minutes with each homeless student each month.”
Additional staffing is needed to help facilitate the identification, enrollment, attendance, and sufficient support of students experiencing homelessness.
(Note: Acronyms following recommendations indicate sources for those recommendations. See the Sources Key for details.)
Districts and schools have sufficient staff to fully support the needs of students experiencing homelessness.
- Hire more McKinney-Vento liaisons. (PE, LE)
- Develop a hiring process to recruit, develop, and hire a diverse group of knowledgeable educators, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and counselors who represent the student population they are serving. Focus on hiring people of color for leadership and executive roles. (PE, LE)
- Partner with community-based organizations to provide additional support and capacity as needed in schools. (PE, LE, MM)
Staff working with McKinney-Vento eligible students are equipped with clear role responsibilities that include conducting outreach in the community through awareness-raising events to connect with students, offering McKinney-Vento training, and providing services and McKinney-Vento program supports for all school buildings. *See Family Outreach and Communication topic area for further information.
Recommendations & Strategies
- McKinney-Vento liaisons should assist with housing programs, be an advocate for students experiencing homelessness, help identify the school-level building point of contact, and connect with family engagement and support teams that can provide case management.
- Student support staff should provide outreach to students and families experiencing homelessness where they live or in other accessible locations chosen by the student/family. (PE, LE)
- Create school-based student improvement teams led by or including staff trained and knowledgeable on working with McKinney-Vento eligible students (e.g., an intervention team, attendance team, racial equity team, or family engagement and support team). (PE, MM)
- Strategy 1: Support families or provide guidance on how to balance students’ jobs, transportation needs, appointments, etc.
- Strategy 2: Follow up after initial intake (e.g., student housing questionnaire, referral forms, student and family meeting) and have ongoing conversations with students and families to understand their evolving needs.
- Office of the Washington State Auditor: Opportunities to Better Identify and Serve K-12 Students Experiencing Homelessness
- Professional Educator Standards Board: PESB Updates & Grow Your Own Teachers
- Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction: Designating a Local Homeless Education Liaison