The Bucks County Schools Intermediate Unit (BCIU) is the managing agent for Region 8 for the Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program. Region 8 includes the counties of Bucks, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton. To cover this region, a collaborative effort has been formed which includes the BCIU, the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU) and the Allentown School District (ASD). With 66 school districts, several hundred schools, more than 30 shelters and dozens of agencies, the need for continual training and communication is vital. Every school year also finds staff changes in school districts.
This regional site is built around the federal McKinney-Vento Home less Act and emphasis is placed on ensuring that homeless children and youth are immediately enrolled in school. In addition, priority is given to the barriers outlined in the State Plan in terms of removing or reducing them.
The Site Coordinators serve a variety of purposes intended to manage the project in the most effective and efficient manner. Problem solving, public relations, increasing awareness of how to help homeless children, encouraging homeless parents, outreach visits and mailings, tracking of students and making referrals are some of the key activities.
Placing a “Right to Education” poster in every school, and being available to explain the federal law and BEC 42 U.S.C.§11301 has lead to many students being admitted to school more swiftly. Developing the local network of school district Home less Liaisons has also resulted in smoother and less stressful admissions. We invite any Home less Liaison within Region #8 to contact us at any time.
Placing posters and other literature at key agencies and food pantries has contributed to families knowing about school choice and that residency does not have to be proven. Many have enrolled their children that otherwise would most likely not have put their children in school for fear of child protection services or for thinking they are in trouble because of their homelessness.
When working in a densely populated region with multiple school districts, efforts are taken to keep children in their schools of origin whenever possible. The results are fewer absences, fewer school changes and better academic achievement. We encourage school districts to work together on transportation, and to use existing routes whenever possible.
Speaking to homeless parents allows us to provide referrals, develop strategies, encourage them as to how to best help their children in school, and respond to requests for school supplies and school activity fees.
For additional information on services available in Region 8, please contact:
Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22
Michelle Connor, Regional Coordinator
Telephone: 215-348-2940, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org