2018 NN4Y Education Track

Co-convened with SchoolHouse Connection

SchoolHouse Connection is pleased to co-convene an education track at the National Network for Youth’s fifth annual National Summit on Youth Homelessness, March 19-20, in Washington DC. The sessions are designed to bridge policy and practice by featuring innovative practices and strategies with expert panelists. Topics include:

1. Getting to Graduation: Dropout Prevention and Re-engagement

  • Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count study found that lack of a high school diploma or GED is the top risk factor for youth homelessness. Yet homelessness itself creates great barriers to graduating. This session will discuss legal requirements designed to help youth get to graduation, including partial credits, participation in extra-curricular activities, trauma-informed discipline practices, transportation and school stability. We’ll focus on practical implementation strategies and how schools and service providers can partner to promote graduation. Lastly, we’ll review model state laws and discuss how we can work together to pass similar legislation in your state.


  • Erika Hamlet, Homeless Liaison / Title I Coordinator, Baltimore County Public Schools
  • Patricia Julianelle, Director of Program Advancement and Legal Affairs, SchoolHouse Connection
  • Kathi Sheffel, Homeless Liaison, Fairfax County Public Schools

2. Post-Secondary Education: Practical Strategies to Promote Access and Success

  • 95% of jobs created since 2010 have gone to college-educated workers. Post-secondary education gives young people the tools they need to obtain stable, living wage employment that can prevent them experiencing homelessness as adults. Youth experiencing homelessness have rights that can facilitate the transition into higher education, improve access to financial aid, and provide support to get to graduation. We’ll review these rights and focus on practical strategies to advocate for young people on college and university campuses. Lastly, we’ll review model state laws and discuss how we can work together to pass similar legislation in your state.


  • Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
  • Robin Hernandez-Mekonnen, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor of Social Work, Stockton University
  • Shahera Hyatt, Director, California Homeless Youth Project

3. A Two-Generation Approach: Support for Young Parents and Their Children

  • Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count study found having a child to be the second greatest risk factor for youth homelessness. Over 1 in 3 young homeless women are pregnant or parenting. Without adequate care for their children, these young women cannot focus on their own education, employment, and other needs. This session will review best practices for serving young families and provide specific information on access to early care and education services for young children experiencing homelessness, including child care and preschool.



  • Marsha Basloe, President, Child Care Services Association
  • Angel Cregge, Program Manager, Second Story for Young Mothers
  • Patricia Julianelle, Director of Program Advancement and Legal Affairs, SchoolHouse Connection
  • Joe Willard, Vice President of Policy, People’s Emergency Center, Philadelphia
About the Speakers


Barbara Duffield

Barbara Duffield is Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection. For more than 20 years, she has bridged policy and practice in early care, education, housing, and homelessness. Barbara began her career as a tutor for children experiencing homelessness in Washington DC in 1990. She was the Director of Education for the National Coalition for the Homeless from 1994-2003, where she collaborated with service providers, educators, federal agencies, and Congressional offices to address children’s issues. She served as the Director of Policy and Programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth in Washington D.C from 2003-2016, leading national efforts to strengthen federal protections and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness, from early childhood through higher education.

Barbara helped to establish and develop the NAEHCY Scholarship Program, a comprehensive scholarship program for youth who have experienced homelessness and wish to pursue higher education. She has conducted technical assistance trainings, authored policy reports, appeared on television and radio shows, and has been quoted by various media outlets such as The New York Times and Education Week. Her academic work can be found in Educational Studies, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services. Barbara has served on numerous commissions and advisory groups, including Sesame Street Workshop’s Trauma Initiative and the National Commission on Children and Disasters education group. She received her Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Patricia Julianelle

Patricia Julianelle is an attorney and legal consultant for state and local governments and non-profit organizations. She has over 20 years of experience defending children’s and youth’s rights, including advocating for youth in the education, juvenile justice, child welfare, and immigration systems. Patricia is an expert on education law and policy, including the rights of children experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities and undocumented immigrants. She has worked with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), the National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN), Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and the American Bar Association, among other organizations.

Patricia’s skills include: providing training and technical assistance to state and local educational agencies, attorneys and non-profit organizations; convening powerful local, inter-agency task forces on youth homelessness; and drafting federal and state legislation to turn the wisdom of practitioners and young people into law. She also produces training and awareness videos related to family and youth homelessness. Her work has been published in academic and practice journals, including the Children’s Legal Rights Journal, Seattle Journal of Social Justice, Journal of Poverty Law & Policy, and Inquiry & Analysis, as well as publications of the American Bar Association, California Research Bureau and U.S. Department of Education. Patricia graduated from Yale University and received her J.D. summa cum laude from Lewis & Clark Law School. She taught high school in the US and law school in Chile, where she met her wife and continues to reside part-time.

Erika Hamlet, M.ED

Erika Hamlet serves as the Homeless Education Liaison with Baltimore County Public Schools. Mrs. Hamlet has 20 years of experience in education in which her positions include lead pupil personnel worker and professional school counselor. As the Homeless Education Liaison she oversees the federal mandates of homeless identification, enrollment, and ensures equitable access to services that builds homeless students’ foundation for intellectual and social development. She holds a BSW in Social Work from Morgan State University, a M.ED from Loyola University in Education and School Counseling, and an Administration 1 Certification. Her proudest accomplishments include that she is a proud mother of three amazing young adults and happily married to William Hamlet for 25 years.

Kathi Sheffel, M. A.

Kathi Sheffel is the homeless liaison for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia, and has been in this role for 17 years.  She received her undergraduate training at the University of the Pacific in California and was trained as a behaviorist.  She received her M.A. in educational counseling from the University of San Francisco.  Kathi has been involved in child advocacy work for over 25 years.

Kathi has coordinated the homeless education program at Fairfax County Public Schools for the last seventeen years providing educational support services to homeless families.  The homeless office seeks to coordinate community and school resources in a collaborative effort to ensure success for homeless children and families.  Fairfax County Public Schools is the 10th largest school district in the United States.  Approximately 3200 homeless students are enrolled in the school system each year. Kathi has presented extensive trainings locally, regionally and nationally on issues involving homeless children and youth focusing on awareness of issues affecting homeless children and families.

Robin Hernandez-Mekonnen, PhD, MSW

Robin Hernandez-Mekonnen PhD, MSW (University of Pennsylvania), is an Associate Professor of Social Work and faculty of the Child Welfare Education Institute at Stockton University. Dr. Hernandez-Mekonnen has 20 years of child welfare experience and has been engaged research and policy work for the past decade. Her areas of interest are child welfare, system reform, Title IV-E and workforce improvement, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), intersection of child welfare and immigration, Mexican diaspora, and mixed method research and policy. With an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, Dr. Hernandez-Mekonnen has worked on a number of influential projects and reform efforts on the behalf of children and families in the Delaware Valley and nationally. Currently, Dr. Hernandez- Mekonnen’s work is focusing on the New Jersey Child Welfare system reform. Her primary teaching includes Social Welfare Policy, Research Methods, and Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice.

Shahera Hyatt

Shahera Hyatt is the Director of the California Homeless Youth Project, an initiative of the California Research Bureau focused on educating policymakers on the needs of homeless youth in California. Hyatt has authored several publications on the topic of youth homelessness including policy briefs on LGBTQ youth, as well as the nation’s first state action plan on ending youth homelessness. During the day she works to uplift the voices of marginalized youth, and at night she tells jokes at dive bars and comedy clubs all over Sacramento.

Joe Willard

Joe Willard is Vice President for Policy at People’s Emergency Center. In this role, he supervises all policy and research at PEC. Prior to joining PEC, Mr. Willard was associate manager for public policy at the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania for four years and associate director at The Reinvestment Fund’s, Regional Workforce Partnership, for four years. He earned his master’s degree from Hunter College and his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University.

Marsha Basloe

Marsha Basloe will begin as President of Child Care Services Association in Chapel Hill, NC after being a Senior Advisor for the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before joining HHS, Marsha served as the executive director of the Early Care & Learning Council, the statewide CCR&R agency for New York State’s 37 CCR&R agencies where she was a member of the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.

Prior to New York, she was in North Carolina as the executive director of Durham’s Partnership for Children, the county non-profit agency that implemented North Carolina’s early childhood Smart Start initiative, the Durham Public Pre-Kindergarten program and the first Early Head Start grant for Durham County. Earlier experience included more than 20 years as an educator, program director, resource development director and executive director.

Marsha was an HHS Program Officer for Early Learning Challenge grants. She was responsible for coordinating early childhood homelessness working closely with the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care and the Interagency Workgroup on Family Homelessness. She also worked on early childhood workforce initiatives, communications from the Office of Early Childhood and interagency efforts and other initiatives aimed at young children and families.

Angel Cregge

Angel Cregge is the Program Manager at Second Story for Young Mothers. Angel began as a volunteer at the Second Story’s teen shelter and was hired and promoted to multiple positions within the young mothers program before becoming the Program Manager. She provides case management services and acts as an advocate for clients in the Bridging Affordability program, a partnership with Northern Virginia Family Service.

Angel is actively involved in the Fairfax County Housing Collaborative and Housing Locator Network, as well as other partnerships throughout the County that focus on creating resources and developing strategies on how to best serve and assist the county’s homeless population. Angel is deeply invested in the progress and growth of the Young Mothers program and all of its clients, and has been essential in their movement towards self-sufficiency and encouraging clients to become first time home buyers. When she is able to step away from work, Angel loves to spend time with her family and to go to the beach.

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