Across the nation, school district homeless liaisons and early childhood programs are facing enormous and unprecedented challenges serving children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Yet liaisons also are coming up with creative strategies, drawing on community support, and forging ahead to meet constantly changing needs. In this video series, we sit down with liaisons and other providers from across the nation to share their experiences and tips as they face the new school year.  

Liliana Godinez
McKinney-Vento Liaison
Bellevue School District, Washington

Liliana Godinez, McKinney-Vento liaison for Bellevue School District in WA state, shares strategies and partnerships from child care to health care to food and emergency housing.

Sharon Hill
Homeless Liaison
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Georgia

Sharon describes why transportation is key to identifying students experiencing homelessness. She also provides tangible strategies on what schools and the community can do to support these students. 

Nikki Hannon
Director of Parents, Community Outreach
Browning Public Schools, Montana

Nikki describes some of the challenges brought on by COVID-19 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. These include distance learning in a crowded household, lack of internet access, dropout prevention, and more. Learn how her program is maintaining connections with students, even when school buildings are closed.

Dave Mayo-Kiely
Homeless Liaison
Anchorage School District, Alaska

Dave describes the challenges he faces in a new virtual online learning world – especially the lack of connectivity in Anchorage, Alaska. By keeping in close contact with service providers and shelters in the area, he is able to ensure that students there are able to thrive in school.

Heather Anderson
McKinney-Vento Liaison
Paducah Public Schools, Kentucky

Heather is worried about the safety and stability of students experiencing homelessness during the new school year. She also outlines how she is conducting more outreach to identify more students.

Sue Runkle
Homeless Education Liaison
Billings Public Schools, Montana

Sue is struggling to find students and unaccompanied youth in the wake of COVID-19 due to community agencies being closed. One of her strategies is to train staff to look out for potential signs of homelessness in a virtual online learning world. 

Christi DeChamps
School Social Worker
Appleton Area School District, Wisconsin

Christi works with homeless families who are often in very fluid situations – in shelters, doubled-up or staying with others. Because of this, getting to school and learning online is a challenge. She also describes how she is working with community partners to help these students.

Dr. Rochelle Bates
Family and Community Engagement Coordinator
Confluence Charter Schools, Missouri

Rochelle talks about opening a virtual academy where students can go while doing distance learning (with academic support, meals, and transportation) and shares her experience of working with her Continuum of Care on developing a new screening tool.

Ayesha Buckner
Homeless Liaison
NOLA Public Schools, Louisiana

Ayesha describes how her top challenge is identifying families experiencing homelessness in a virtual learning world. Her actionable strategies include adding homeless language on the school’s website and including a blurb about homelessness in newsletters and parent handbooks.

Sonia Pitzi
Regional Coordinator
Lincoln Intermediate Unit, Pennslyvania

Sonia describes how an abrupt ending to the previous school year upended the procedures she’s put in place to collect student information at the end of the school year. She also describes how her relationship with local park rangers supports her efforts in identifying students and families experiencing homelessness.

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