Published: March 31, 2020
Staffing refers to the recruitment, retention, and support of people with skills, background, and experience to work effectively with students experiencing homelessness.

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.)

Goal 1:

Districts and schools have sufficient staff to fully support the needs of students experiencing homelessness.

  1. Hire more McKinney-Vento liaisons. (PE, LE)
  2. 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)
  3. Partner with community-based organizations to provide additional support and capacity as needed in schools. (PE, LE, MM)

Goal 2

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

Sources Key

Professional Expertise
Lived Expertise
Mixed-methods Research
Sources include:
Building Changes/Schoolhouse Washington staff; school and district staff interviewed through Schoolhouse Washington-funded projects and the Students of Color project
Students and families of color experiencing homelessness interviewed through the Students of Color project
Beating the Odds quantitative and qualitative analysis showing association between a practice and better-than-predicted outcomes