The Orange County Department of Education’s HOPES Collaborative has created an online training to help educators better understand the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act and how best to support students experiencing homelessness.
According to the state, Orange County schools identified approximately 25,808 students who were eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act because they were experiencing homelessness during the 2021-22 school year. That represents about 6 percent of the county’s student population.
McKinney-Vento, which was passed in 1987, is a federal law that ensures that children and youth who are without a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime stay have equal access to a free and appropriate public education.
“We want to make sure educators have the tools they need to identify and support students experiencing homelessness,” said Jeanne Awrey, coordinator of the HOPES Collaborative, which includes school district liaisons, non-profits, government and faith-based organizations, and shelter and housing providers. “This online training was designed to provide clear and concise information on the rights and resources identified under the McKinney-Vento Act.”
Produced in partnership with OCDE’s Media Services team, the new online training features a series of modules and includes interviews with students and parents who have experienced homelessness. A range of topics are covered, including the definition of homelessness under McKinney-Vento, barriers to enrollment, the importance of providing educational stability, and best practices for identifying and assisting families who are facing housing insecurity.
The training also emphasizes the importance of developing relationships with families and provides information on how educators can contact their district’s liaison to get guidance and find resources. Links to additional documents and materials are also included under a resource tab.
“The online training is a valuable resource for anyone working with students experiencing homelessness,” Awrey said. “Above all, it is vital that we work together to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed in school, regardless of their housing situation.”