About Project TEACH
Project TEACH was established as a model program following the recommendations of the Sacramento County Task Force for the Education of Homeless Children in 1990. Caring, collaborative partners formed Project TEACH to help meet the challenges of promoting the educational success of children who are experiencing homelessness.
Project TEACH is a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) program, funded by a California Department of Education (CDE) grant, through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001. Project TEACH collaborates with charter schools, school districts, and community agencies. Public awareness resources are disseminated to agencies and schools. Project TEACH provides educational sector representation to various interagency committees and boards, including the Continuum of Care.
Project TEACH provides support to carry out SCOE’s homeless liaison duties. Families and unaccompanied youths are identified as eligible for services. The parent or guardian is informed of the educational opportunities and rights of their children. Project TEACH supports the involvement of parents in education. Workshops are provided at family shelter agencies.
Project TEACH provides technical assistance and coordinates services with school districts, charter schools, and agencies, which includes hosting a monthly Education for Homeless Children and Youth Collaborative.
Definition of Children Experiencing Homelessness
According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act, the term "homeless children and youths" 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 loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
- living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
- living in emergency or transitional shelters (includes transitional housing programs)
- abandoned in hospitals
- staying in a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for/ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation
- living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- runaways or unaccompanied (not in the physical custody of the parent or guardian)
- migratory who qualify as homeless because of living in the circumstances described above
Project TEACH supports unique family services to promote enrollment, attendance, and academic success as follows:
- Assistance with school enrollment, attendance, and academic success
- Referrals to preschool programs
- Coordination between schools, shelters, housing agencies, and motels
- Transfer of school records, including immunization or relevant medical records, is facilitated
- Family literacy activities and/or access to after-school programs
- Access to the educational services for which the child is eligible, such as special education
- Referrals to health, dental, mental health services and community food, shelter, and clothing resources
- Access to School Nutrition Programs
- Transportation resources to enable students to attend school
- School supplies and resources for students
- Parent consultation, including discussion of educational rights and responsibilities
- Community awareness campaigns and professional development
In compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act, each charter school and school district is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youths. Parents/guardians should contact a school liaison to obtain assistance or services, and to get help resolving disputes regarding eligibility, school selection, or school enrollment.
In support of parent and youth awareness of education rights, Project TEACH produced the following video:
- “You Can Enroll in School” Video—highlights education rights and resources for students experiencing homelessness.
Children experiencing homelessness have a right to:
- Consistently attend school no matter where they stay at night (shelter, motel, car, temporarily with family/friends)
- Participate fully in all school activities and programs for which they are eligible
- Continue to attend the same school upon moving away from the school’s attendance area or school district
- Receive transportation from where they are currently staying back to the school of origin
- Enroll in a local school where they are staying without a permanent residence or proof of residency
- Immediately attend school while the school obtains records (immunization records, cumulative records, special education documents)
- Automatically receive free/reduced-price lunches and other services of the food program without an application
Services for Charter Schools and School Districts
Project TEACH ensures that students living in homeless situations succeed through collaborative efforts with schools. Each charter school and school district is required to designate a liaison for children experiencing homelessness in compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Improvements Assistance Act. As a county office program, Project TEACH provides assistance to school districts as follows:
- Encourages and assists charter schools and districts in establishing a program or services
- Provides training and support to the liaison and/or designated contact person(s)
- Maintains resources to navigate shelter and community agencies
- Resolves disputes regarding the educational placement of children experiencing homelessness
- Increases awareness and compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Improvements Assistance Act through collaboration with schools, shelter agencies, community agencies, and parents
- Provides countywide outreach materials to support school programs
- Coordination between agencies and districts on events which results in donated supplies for students
- Promotes accurate reporting of data to the California Department of Education
- Local educational liaison representative at interagency forums
- Coordinates the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Collaborative to provide a forum for schools and agencies to engage in knowledge sharing, problem-solving, and learning about homeless-focused community resources
Project TEACH is funded thanks to grants from the CDE, through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001. CDE also provides homeless youth-related resources on its website.