Making a Difference for McKinney-Vento Students
SAN ELIZARIO, TEXAS – The month of November is National Youth Homeless Awareness Month. According to the Child Traumatic Stress Network, “As many as 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness. Along with losing their home, community, friends, and routines as well as their sense of stability and safety, many homeless youths are also victims of trauma.” In the San Elizario Independent School District (SEISD), there are a combined number of 83 students, which is approximately 3 % of students districtwide identified as homeless.
According to The National Center for Homeless Education, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was reauthorized in 2015 by Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (42 U.S.C. § 11431) and it establishes the definition of homeless used by U.S. public schools, and the educational rights to which children and youth experiencing homelessness are entitled. Thus, the McKinney Vento 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2) defines homelessness for children and youth to be as follows:
- means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence…; and
- includes —
- children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;
- children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
- children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
- migratory children…who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).
The SEISD continues to work hard to assist students to obtain what they need to be academically successful. On November 20, 2020, district social workers put together a drive-through to help families and students with backpacks filled with school supplies and personal hygiene products. Social worker Sylvia Graves states, “The primary goal of the McKinney-Vento Program with the San Elizario District is to ensure that each student has the same access to free appropriate public education as any other student, and to remove barriers so students can receive the help they need."
Each backpack includes several school supplies such as folders, dividers, pens, pencils, erasers two packs of notebook paper, a pocket dictionary and thesaurus, sharpeners, highlighters, glue, colored markers, colored pencils, scissors, two spiral notebooks, a journal, and at least one binder and books. The personal care product bags also include toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, lotion, soap, a comb and brush, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. As a result of the pandemic, hand sanitizer was included in the bags. Social worker Teresita Parra said, “Each child needs their supplies. There are so many uncertainties about the future. Because of the pandemic, we have many parents who have lost a job or income so right now, it is important to get these supplies to students." About 78 backpacks have been filled.