Homeless outreach and foster care services

The Homeless Outreach Promoting Education program is a partnership between Vancouver Public Schools and local shelters in the community to help meet the needs of homeless families with school-aged children.

Services

  • Meeting with families to assist with school registration.
  • Acting as a liaison between schools, shelters, parents and students.
  • Arranging transportation for students to continue attending the same school even if they move out of school boundaries.
  • Providing basic needs
  • Assisting families in finding resources in the community.

Every school in the district provided services to children identified as homeless at some point during the school year.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1986 is a federal law that provides money for homeless shelter programs. Homeless children also are entitled to the protections of the McKinney-Vento Act.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” The act provides examples of children who would fall under this definition:

  • Students sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing, doubled up
  • Students living in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations”
  • Students living in “emergency or transitional shelters”
  • Students whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g., park benches, etc.)
  • Students living in “cars, trailers on wheels, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations”

The McKinney-Vento Act ensures homeless children transportation to and from school free of charge, allowing children to attend their school of origin (last school enrolled or the school they attended when they first become homeless) regardless of what district the family resides in. It requires schools to register homeless children even if they lack normally required documents, such as immunization records or proof of residence.

Homeless families’ rights

  • You have the right to register your child for school even if you do not have your full documentation such as immunization records, utility bill, birth certificate, etc.
  • Once registered, your child can begin attending school.
  • Your child has the right to stay in the same school even if you move, if it is feasible and in the best interests of him or her.
  • Your child will be provided with school transportation with school buses, city bus passes or gas vouchers.
  • Your children are entitled to free lunch and breakfast at school without the need to fill out the form.
  • The above services will continue until the end of the school year in which homelessness ends for your family.

Dispute resolution process

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act acknowledges that disputes may arise between the school district and homeless students and their parents, or unaccompanied youth, when the district seeks to place a student in a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or unaccompanied youth. The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has developed a dispute resolution process as required by the McKinney-Vento Act. Disputes related to school selection or enrollment should be initiated at the request of the parent or unaccompanied youth and not at the request of the school district.

McKinney-Vento Questionnaire

Informational resources

Homeless Education | Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

McKinney-Vento program overview | Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

In accordance with state and federal laws, Vancouver Public Schools provides services to help meet the needs of children and youth in foster care. We partner with educators, foster parents, social workers, state agencies, and advocates to support the whole child through evidence-based, best-practices and collaboration.

Services

  • Meeting with families to assist with school registration.
  • Acting as a liaison between schools and Children’s Administration.
  • Arranging transportation for students to continue attending the same school even if they move out of school boundaries.
  • Providing basic needs
  • Assisting families in finding resources in the community.

Foster care families’ and children’s rights

  • Foster parents have the right to register their child for school even if they do not have full documentation such as immunization records, utility bill, birth certificate, etc.
  • Once registered, the child can begin attending school within one or two days.
  • Students can remain at the school of origin if it is in their best interest. School of origin is defined as the last school the student attended at time of placement in foster care.
  • Students will be provided with school transportation with school buses, city bus passes or gas vouchers.
  • Students are entitled to free lunch and breakfast at school without the need to fill out the form.
  • Students must not be isolated or stigmatized.
  • The above services will continue as long as the student is in foster care.


Dispute resolution process

Foster care education program: Dispute resolution process resource 

Contact

Melissa NewhouseHomeless and foster care liaison, HOPE
2921 Falk Road
Vancouver, WA 98661
phone: 360-313-1483
Melissa.newhouse@vansd.org
Mary LoganHomeless liaison clerk, HOPE
Bilingual Spanish-English
Hablo Español
2921 Falk Road
Vancouver, WA 98661
phone: 360-313-1483
Mary.Logan@vansd.org

The HOPE office is located at Bates Center for Educational Leadership (next door to Roosevelt Elementary)

All mail and donations should be directed to the following mailing address:

Homeless Outreach Promoting Education (HOPE)
℅ Vancouver Public Schools
P.O. Box 8937
Vancouver, WA 98668-8937

Community resources