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Preparing for Summer: What Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Preparing for Summer: What Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Date of the Event: December 07, 2023 | Kailanya Brailey, Christina Dukes, Nikevia Thomas, Jessica Webster
Show Notes:

The webinar series “Are ALL the Children Well? 2.0” concluded with “Preparing for Summer: What Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness” on December 7, 2023.



In this webinar participants:

  •  Recognized risk factors for students experiencing homelessness and transient families as they transition into the summer
  • Discovered local summer resources and tools that support students and families who experience homelessness

Nikevia Thomas:

Good afternoon everyone, thank you for joining us. This is MAEC’s, Are ALL the Children Well, webinar series. This is our fifth and final session, and the topic is Preparing for Summer: What Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness?

Please, we are delighted that you are joining us today and I welcome you to type in the chat who you are and where you’re from. So you can share your name and where ...

Nikevia Thomas:

Good afternoon everyone, thank you for joining us. This is MAEC’s, Are ALL the Children Well, webinar series. This is our fifth and final session, and the topic is Preparing for Summer: What Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness?

Please, we are delighted that you are joining us today and I welcome you to type in the chat who you are and where you’re from. So you can share your name and where you’re joining us from today. My name is Nikevia and I am the virtual event Planner for this session.

Holly from Texas. Nice to meet you. Ashley from Philadelphia. Nice to meet you. Who else do we have here today?

Oh, Kate. Christina. Rachel. Nice to meet you all. Oh, I see someone from Pittsburgh. Louisiana. Wow. Caroline County, Maryland. Oklahoma City. We have people from all over the country. Did I see Montana? Wow. Nevada. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for joining us. So in the interest of time, we’re going to transition over. Please continue to type in the chat where you’re from. So we are MAEC and we are champions of innovation, collaboration, and equity. And you’re going to hear a little bit more about us and I will transition you to the people who will tell you all about us. And that is the facilitators for today. That is Kailanya Brailey and Jessica Webster.

Jessica Webster:

Thanks, Nikevia. We’re going to start with just reviewing our webinar etiquette. So we ask that you please continue to use the chat box to engage with each other and with our speaker for today, Christina. Please tap on the chat icon at the bottom or the top of your toolbox or screen. Please do not use the raise hand function as we will not be answering questions that way, but we do encourage you to add any questions that you have to our Q&A session. We will be answering questions. Christina will be answering questions throughout the session and Kailanya and I make sure that we get to your questions as the session progresses through.

So as you go, if a question pops into your head, please do not hesitate to put it into the chat box. We also have the opportunity to use live captioning. So if you are someone that would like to benefit from live captioning, there should be a CC or transcript button at the bottom of your screen to either show captions. If they are already on for you and they are something you would not like to have on, please hit that CC button again to hide those subtitles.

All right, and we would be remiss if we did not thank our entire webinar team. You already had the chance to meet the amazing Nikevia who organizes this all for us and keeps us all together. We also have Ian, who’s our data and evaluation consultant who is providing our technical support today. And then we also are always collaborating with our communications team, specifically Allegra, who while she will not be here today, does a lot of behind the scenes for the PR and the registration to make sure that this opportunity gets out to all of you. So we just want to take a minute to thank all of you for making these happen for us.

And then just a quick word about me as a facilitator and then I’ll let Kailanya introduce herself. My name is Jessica Webster and I am a Senior Family Engagement Specialist with our CAFE team and we work specifically with Maryland and Pennsylvania on family engagement supports. My background is actually in education as both a teacher and administrator, specifically in the middle school level, and I also have three children of my own. So I come to this wearing many, many different hats each time. So we’re so excited to have you with us today and I’m going to kick it over to my colleague and friend, Kailanya.

Kailanya Brailey:

Thank you, Jessica. Hello again to everyone, Kailanya Brailey. I am a Senior Education Equity Specialist with our Center for Education Equity as well as our Statewide Family Engagement Center in Maine. I too come with an education background in that I was a middle school English teacher and middle school administrator, assistant principal and principal. So very excited to be with you all today and get into this learning with Christina.

So we’ll do a brief review of our agenda. Again, we have our welcome in our introductions, and we’ll follow up with a presentation from Christina Dukes with Pearl Strategies, our presenter who has a wealth of information to share with us and we’re very excited to have her here with us today. And after Christina’s presentation, we’ll have our closing.

Before we begin though, I would like to give you some background information about who we are and what we do, which will help you understand why we strive to connect and support all communities.

MAEC was founded in 1992 as an education nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to a high quality education for culturally, linguistically and economically diverse learners. MAEC envisions a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. And our mission is to promote excellence and equity in education to achieve social justice. We believe that all students deserve to feel welcomed, respected, and safe at school, and provided with the opportunities to thrive.

Again, this webinar is brought to you through both the CEE and CAFE grants. CEE, our Center for Education Equity and our Region one Equity Assistance Center. Operates in 15 states and territories through support from the Department of Education. And CAFE, the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement is the statewide Family Engagement Center for Pennsylvania and Maryland. This next image that we’ll show you is an overview of the region, again, covered by CEE.

And as you can see, we reach all the way from Maine down to Kentucky, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And again, CAFE is the statewide Family Engagement Center for Maryland and Pennsylvania. A brief review of our objectives for the day. We will recognize risk factors for students experiencing homelessness and transient families as they transition into the summer, and we’ll discover local summer resources and tools that support students and families who experience homelessness.

And now for our learning and engagement today, I have the honor of introducing Christina Dukes, founder and principal of Pearl Strategies. Pearl Strategies is a small woman-owned education and human services consulting firm based in the Washington DC, metropolitan area. Pearl primarily supports the homeless education sector and its human service partners, including child welfare, housing, homeless response and workforce development with the goals of strengthening single program and single system design and function, school community partnerships and client level outcomes.

Christina has 20+ years of experience in homeless education, migrant education, and Cross Systems’ partnership work. Prior to funding Pearl Christina worked at the National Center for Homeless Education, the US Department of Education’s, federal Homeless Education Technical Assistance Center for 18 years, most recently as its director of partnerships and policy. She received her BA in Spanish from Tulane University and her MA in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University. Christina, it’s a pleasure to have you here with us today, and I happily turn it over to you.

Christina Dukes:

Thank you, Kailanya. I’m going to share my screen and I would like to thank the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium for having me here today. It’s my pleasure to be a part of this series. The final session today will be focused on Preparing Ahead: What Summer Programming and Supports Benefit Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness? We’ve shared a little bit about ourselves. Wanted to have a little bit of fun with you all attendees if you’re willing. I’m a dog lover, so I would love for you to share in the chat just to break the ice. Actually, sorry, that December means we’re close to winter break. What’s your favorite part? So is it A, no need to set an alarm for work? B, decorating for the season? C, spending time with friends and loved ones? D, eating holiday treats? Or E other? So please share in the chat and I’m going to have a look to see what you guys think, what’s your favorite part as we head towards the break.

All right, Rachel likes to spend time with friends and loved ones. And then Ashley, “I’d love to sleep in.” Also, you can say all of the above, like Holly. I will share that I did this icebreaker once before and someone said e-shopping the deals. So any other shoppers out there? All right, I see the responses coming in. Keep those coming. Just wanted to break the ice so you would feel comfortable engaging. We will have chat and discussion and Q&A along the way, so please don’t be shy. But with that, I’ll go ahead and get started. Here’s where we’re headed today. I did want to provide an overview, a quick overview, an introduction to homeless education, if that is a relatively new topic for you, but we’ll keep that pretty short. And then we’re going to explore summer programming and resources for students and families experiencing homelessness.

That’ll include some information from the Afterschool Alliance on access to summer programming, also some barriers, potentially some strategy for addressing those barriers, some funding sources to support summer programming engagement, and then some specific links where you might find some programming in your area if you decide to do some sort of an asset map or list of summer programming that’s available to families in your area. We will have a time where we’ll explore next steps for– next steps for outreach and planning, and again, Q&A and discussion throughout. I hope you’ll be active because it’s nice to hear from other folks.

So here’s a quick introduction, the 101 summary of homeless education. You may hear students experiencing homelessness referred to as McKinney-Vento students, and that’s because the key piece of federal legislation that addresses the unique educational barriers and challenges faced by students experiencing homelessness is part of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Specifically VII-B, the education subtitle. This subtitle of the act was reauthorized by Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and it requires a number of things. But specifically for those of you on today’s webinar who may not be part of a school district or maybe you are part of a school district and weren’t aware, there are some requirements for people to implement the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, both at the state and local level. So the McKinney-Vento Act requires state education departments to designate a state coordinator for homeless education. We might have a state coordinator or two on the line, I’ve seen some familiar names in the participant list. And also school districts are required to designate a local homeless education liaison. Again, flagging that for you because that may be an important person to speak with as you’re considering summer programming for families in your area.

Who is homeless? The reason this is so important to discuss is for, well, a couple of reasons. For those of us who have never experienced homelessness, we may be reliant on common conceptions of what homelessness looks like, which often is portrayed as people staying in shelters or people in what are called unsheltered locations, staying in unsheltered locations like a car or a park. And that certainly is a form of homelessness. But more often than not, children, youth and families experience a different kind of homelessness, a more hidden kind of homelessness. And so the education definition is broader and actually broader than other federal definitions. Most specifically, it is broader than the definition used by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD. So for education purposes, children and youth who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless.

This does include young people sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason that’s often referred to as doubling up. Children and youth staying in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds because they have nowhere else to go. So due to the lack of alternative, adequate accommodations. Living in emergency or transitional shelters or abandoned in hospitals living in public or private places, not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation. Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transit stations or similar settings, and then migratory or migrant children that are living in any of those circumstances described in the statute. Also, another piece of our definition is unaccompanied youth, and those are children and youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and living in the above circumstances. So their living arrangement does need to meet the definition of homelessness.

In case you wanted to get just a quick glimpse of what this looks like at the national level or the scope of this issue. In the 2122 school year, US public schools enroll just over 1.2 million children in youth experiencing homelessness, including just over 110,000 unaccompanied youth or youth experiencing homelessness on their own. You can see the breakdown of their primary nighttime residence with three quarters of those students staying in doubled up arrangements or meaning they’re staying with someone else in someone else’s housing because they have nowhere else to go. There is some state level information in that publication if you’re interested in state level data. So I just wanted to flag that for you.

The duties of the local liaison, that’s that key person at the school district, is to ensure the identification in school enrollment of students experiencing homelessness, refer families to early childhood and other services from outside agencies, housing, health and mental health care and other needed human services. Supporting the informed engagement of parents in their children’s education. Disseminating public notice of McKinney-Vento rights and services. Providing professional development to school personnel. And supporting unaccompanied homeless youth. Of course, there are more detailed descriptions of these duties in the statute, but I just wanted to summarize this, and if you’re not sure who your liaison is, you can visit that link. I know we will be sharing the handout after the webinar and you can find out who your school district local liaison is if you don’t know who that person is yet.

Key McKinney-Vento Student Rights. This is year round, but in the next couple of slides, we’re also going to look specifically at the language in the act about summer programming. But year round students experiencing homelessness can enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment. They can enroll in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documentation. They can enroll in the local school or the school of origin, continue attending their school of origin based on their best interests. That’s a real hallmark, considered a real hallmark of the McKinney-Vento statute is that school stability piece. Receive transportation to and from the school of origin. If there are disputes about the implementation of their McKinney-Vento rights, they can access the dispute resolution process. They are automatically eligible for free school meals without completing the household application that is normally required, and they are entitled to receive comparable services or services that are comparable to those provided to other students according to the student’s need.

The McKinney-Vento Act, now really zeroing in on summer programming, does include language related to extended year programming. So in general, there is a general mandate that state education departments and school districts review and revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to school engagement. And one of the specific areas for addressing barriers that is mentioned in statute is ensuring that McKinney-Vento students don’t face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities including summer school. One additional piece, and this relates to funding, which we’re going to dive into in a little bit more detail in a moment. But if you weren’t aware, there is a significant source of funding that is currently available and was appropriated under the American Rescue Plan Act. So $800 million were appropriated under that act specifically for the purposes of identifying and supporting the full school participation of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

By way of comparison, a pretty standard annual federal appropriation for the education for Homeless Children and Youth program has been resting at about, I think a hundred thirty-five million, maybe a little more. And so this $800 million was a very significant infusion of funds into our field, and the Department of Education has issued two pieces of federal guidance about these funds. So there was a Dear Colleague letter issued shortly after the funds were released in 2021. And just a couple of months ago, the department released updated guidance because they’re really pushing school districts. “Hey, the time for spending these funds is drawing to a close. They need to be obligated by the end of September, 2024, and out the door by January, 2025.” We really want to encourage you to think of all the different ways you can spend these dollars.

Summer learning and enrichment programming is included in the Department of Education’s definition or concept of participating fully in school activities, and also LEAs or school districts are encouraged to use these funds to increase access to summer learning and enrichment programming. This could include paying for programming fees or even transportation to help the student get back and forth between the programming. So I just want to flag this. If this isn’t something you were aware of, maybe keep that in the back of your mind as a source of funds that could help remove barriers to extended year programming.

I’m going to pause to see if there were any questions about anything I’ve shared thus far. I’m looking in the Q&A and the chat. Let’s see. Okay, so most of that was introductory. Wait, let’s see. Okay, Phoebe, “Do you think USED will extend the drawdown period for our funds?” I can tell you what has been communicated with me. So what Phoebe is referring to… Hi Phoebe, good to see you, is something that the Department of Education is calling late liquidation, again, in statute, the deadline for obligation of ARP-HCY Funds is the end of September, 2024, with the deadline to get those funds out the door, drawn down in January, 2025. What we’ve seen is with all the stimulus funds that were hitting communities, some state education departments and school districts have had a late start and are asking for more time to use these funds.

There is no guarantee. What I have heard from the Department of Education is that… Until it happens, we don’t know, right? But there is interest and there have been repeated requests of the Department of Education for allowance of late liquidation. If that happens, what we’re likely to see is a relief of public comment probably in the spring, and if it goes out for public comment, it is likely that the Department of Ed will allow late liquidation because there’s likely to be a very heavy public sentiment requesting late liquidation, but we really need to wait and see if it comes out for public comment in the spring. What I’ve heard, again, I don’t want to make it seem like it’s a guarantee, but what I have heard is that what that would look like if it is allowed or approved by the US Department of Education, number one, state education departments must request it.

If the state education department does not request it, school districts in the state will not have that opportunity. So that’ll be important to flag at the state level. And then it still would require the obligation of funds by September, 2024, but allow the spending all the way through to, I think March, 2026, which means you could, for instance, buy prepaid gas cards to reimburse for transportation in September, but use them all the way through March, 2026. You could enter into contracts with a community-based organization as long as the contract is executed prior to the end of September and have the period of performance for the contract go all the way through March. So that was a little bit of a long answer, but I took the time because this has been a hot topic for many people, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed for late liquidation.

I’m going to keep us moving. Let’s talk about summer programming and resources. Let’s start, first of all with a quick word, just some general thoughts on summer programming. Now really is the time to start reaching out and planning. What you probably don’t want to do is come April or May next year and, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t even thought about this,” and families and students are now concerned about the summer, and, “I wasn’t really prepared for this conversation.” So it might seem a little bit early, but actually this really is a great time to start thinking about summer programming and giving yourself time to come up with the approach you want to take to provide greater access for families in your area.

I will say the availability and the administration of summer programming can be state and locality specific. Throughout today’s session, I’m going to give a couple of examples from the state of California, both because a lot of Pearl Strategies’ work is out of California, but it also is a, as you know, very large state that has identified approximately 25% or one quarter of all students experiencing homelessness.

But just know I’ll provide you links with state specific information. Some of, again, the availability and administration of summer programming will be state and locality specific. It’s a good idea to check with your state and local after school network, your extended year learning director and your 21st century community learning center director. I’ll give you some links for these and some other folks towards the end of the webinar. And it might be a good idea, take a look at your state or local policies or practices because there are some states, again, California being one of them, that has in state statute a requirement that students experiencing homelessness be prioritized for extended year programming. That’s a relatively new statute if you’re here from the state of California, that is required.

Also, remember that summer learning can take place outside of formal programming. I think a lot of parents depend on some formal program or would prefer formal programming for their children, but I do include a few resources later in the slides in case a family hasn’t as of yet, or experiences a delay in accessing formal programming and are expressing a desire, “Can you at least give me some activities that maybe I can do to help my child over the summer stay up with learning or just continue to use the summer as an opportunity for learning?”

Specific example again from the state of California. I just wonder if we have any Californians in the audience. If so, feel free to say so in the chat. This is an example of a federal source of funds and then some state funding and how they specifically apply to students experiencing homelessness. Many states have 21st Century Community Learning Centers. They are federally funded, programs that provide after school programming, but also grantees can apply for additional funds for summer. So just know that if you have a 21st Century program that provides after school programming, they may also provide summer programming. McKinney, even though students must be prioritized for program access and programs that charge fees must waive them for homeless students. So that’s a federal program. Now specific to California, which hopefully we’ve got some Californians here. There are two state sources, both funding wise but also with policy implications, state sources of extended year programming, the Afterschool Education and Safety or ASES program, and the new relatively new ELOP or Expanded Learning Opportunities Program.

These are both state funded. They can provide, in the case of ASES summer programming. In the case of the ELOP program, they must provide summer programming for at least a portion of the summer. And the McKinney-Vento students must be prioritized and fees must be waived. So that’s an example of a federal program you’ll want to look into, but also check out what your state has. Some states are really prioritizing out-of-school learning time, including over the summer.

Just a little bit of data from the Afterschool Alliance. This is national level, but you will get the slides and you can click on your state to see what this looks like in your state. Summer enrichment programs absolutely can be a game changer for young people, but unmet demand remains high. So you can see the range of the percentage of children in a structured summer experience. This is the latest data they’ve made available. This is from summer 2019. So check there to see where your state falls. The national average is that about 22% of children are in some sort of structured summer experience, but parents in all of the states say, “If more programming were available, I would want my child to be part of a structured summer experience.” So essentially there is still high unmet demand.

Specifically, again, teasing out the state level glance here at California, unmet demand remains high. They have about 21% of children in some structured summer experience, so that’s just below the national average. And you can see there that you can see the percentage though of families saying they have at least one child in a program has been increasing. And I think that’s in part because California is really prioritizing out-of-school programming.

We’re going to talk about barriers in a little bit, but as you’ll see in the state of California, you can see the average per week cost of a summer program, whether it be a voluntary summer program or a specialty camp or program. It’s not cheap. And for families who are low income or experiencing homelessness, costs can definitely be a barrier. It is important, again, and I would look at this in your state programming profile, see the top five locations for summer programs or specialty camps because there may be locations there that you haven’t thought about.

So community-based organizations, city or town programs like county parks and Recreation or something of that nature. Schools, childcare centers or even libraries offer summer programming. Don’t forget about your faith-based organizations, museums, or science centers. So again, this is just to get you thinking about the different types of organizations you could check in with to do some asset mapping for summer programming in your area, and you can learn again what those top locations are in your state by looking at your state profile.

Summer experiences by the numbers. You can see the different kinds of programs, so voluntary programs, non-STEM programs, STEM-focused programs, or even summer jobs or internships. That’s a good thing to keep in mind for summer engagement, depending on the student’s age. This is at the national level. You can see the average cost. You can see the top locations offering these types of programs. And you can find this information for your state by clicking on that summer programming link and then downloading your state fact sheet. You can scroll along the left and you’ll see the state fact sheet and you can get this information. It might be helpful for instance, if you say, “Hey, we’re going to use some of our American Art school district, we’ll use some of our American Rescue plan funds to support summer programming. Maybe it’ll help me budget for what the average cost may be if we’re hoping we can serve 20 students.” Again, and the top five locations might be helpful.

I feel like actually this is a little bit duplicative, but you can see this information specifically for California and how that breaks down in terms of cost, the average number of hours per day engaged in programming, the number of weeks over the summer and the top locations. In terms of the value of summer programming, what are the benefits? Parents have a very specific vision for summer learning or summer programming for their children. They view these programs as an opportunity to build life skills, to provide opportunities for physical activity and a variety of other activities, an opportunity to experience the outdoors and to prevent learning loss, which is where students who are no longer engaged in school and they have those summer months and they’re not engaged in any learning or programming, it can be considered something called the summer slide. And so you want to keep the engagement up over the summer if possible.

I’m going to share a little bit about some barriers and challenges in a moment, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to hear what you think and see what you’ve observed. What are some of the barriers and challenges that children and youth experiencing homelessness might face in accessing summer programming? I’m going to be looking in the chat. Holly, transportation. Right, if they don’t have transportation, they’re not going to be able to attend. [inaudible 00:32:58] Transportation. That’s right. Okay. Older students responsible for child care siblings. Right. So if they have other responsibilities, it’s going to mean that they’re not available to take part in programming for themselves.

Language for unaccompanied minors. Nicole, I think you’re saying if the language… Maybe you just want to tease that out a little bit in the chat. Does that mean maybe since they don’t speak English as their first language or they have another language spoken in the home that maybe they aren’t aware of programming because most of the information is in English? Or maybe are you saying they might be uncomfortable going to programs if they don’t speak the language that most of the other kids or the staff are speaking? If you want to just tease that out. Okay.

Students living in rural areas who aren’t living near programming. Yes, programming tends to be more sparse in rural areas. And Nicole says, “Yes, I work primarily with newcomers that are Spanish speakers only.” Okay. “Transportation like [inaudible 00:34:02], they’re scheduling to meet a parent’s work schedule.” Yes. Okay. Nicole. “The information is often only available in English and that can be intimidating.” These are all very valid points that you’re bringing up. I just wanted to share some general challenges and effects and then some barriers, specifics to extended year programming, and these are often related. Due to homelessness, students may not be able to provide documentation that could be required for school or program enrollment. They move around a lot. They’re highly mobile in where they’re staying, and so they may be changing school or program areas a lot, and so maintaining program or school stability can be challenging.

They may be showing up hungry, tired, or anxious. They may not have access to supplies needed, especially if it’s a more formal, like a STEM program or something like that over the summer. They may not have access to transportation for unaccompanied use. They may not have a parent or guardian who’s helping them find programming, get enrolled, because they’re on their own. As a result of that, we do see higher rates of absenteeism from school or programming, lower grades, higher rates of special education needs, lower assessment test scores, a greater likelihood to drop out of school. And these things, again, can all contribute to difficulty accessing extended year programming.

Here’s some information on barriers. You guys mentioned some of them already. This is actually data from the Afterschool Alliance that parents have said, “Programs are just too expensive. I can’t afford it.” Some families report being part of other activities during the summer, but also, as you guys mentioned, a lot of families say the location is either inconvenient or I just don’t have transportation. Some parents even thought either accurately or maybe they didn’t know, they thought that there were no summer program options available to them. We should note that kids with higher incomes are more likely to participate in a summer program than kids with lower incomes, in fact, three times as likely. And so that’s yet another piece of information there that can remind us that it may take a little bit of extra effort to remove some of these barriers, but it is important to do so for low-income families, including those experiencing homelessness.

Other barriers, families simply may not be aware of programs that are available to them, what their children may be eligible for, how to access the programming. Programs may fill up. And I think someone mentioned this in the chat, if a program only runs for a certain number of hours a day, but the parent works longer than that, then they end up with logistical challenges. “How do I get my child back and forth, or what happens when I’m at work if they’re not in a program?” And again, high mobility moving around between different places that they’re staying.

For those of you who mentioned lack of transportation as a barrier, and even we saw in the previous slide that families have said, oftentimes these programs are not affordable. I did want to share some potential sources of funding for either paying programming fees or paying for transportation. And I want to prime the pump here. I’d love to hear from you if there are other funding sources or strategies for funding summer programming that you have in mind, I’d like to invite you to share in the chat. So some public sources, school district, general summer programming funds or free or low cost slots. So if your school district offers summer programming, do they have funds that could either cover the students low income or homeless students programming fees, or would they be willing, or are they already providing free or low cost slots to families in economic need?

Also, don’t forget your Title I, Part A funds. Those are your federal funds that go to districts to serve students in poverty. That may also include your Title I, Part A homeless Set Aside funds. If it is for supporting engagement in a district run programming with at least a partial academic focus. That is the difference with Title One. Part A is there needs to be an academic focus. Similarly, McKinney-Vento Sub-grant funds can be used to support participation in academic focused programming. And then our ARP-HCY funding has broader parameters. The Department of Education has said that these funds can be used to support access to summer programming, whether it’s academic focus or enrichment focus, so that could be sports or crafts or music or just any summer enrichment programming. Also, your county parks and recreation program may have, again, funds to cover the cost for low income students to participate, or at least they may provide low cost slots or even free slots.

Don’t forget about your private sources. So way back in my high school and college days, I worked at the YMCA in my local community in Florida, and they had sliding scale fees for participation in summer programming, which was offered the whole summer. They had swim programs, they had full day day camps. They had lots of different programming that they made available on a sliding scale for low income families. Don’t forget about free or low cost community or faith-based programming, if that is something that is of interest to the family, and you might be able to find philanthropic assistance.

Maybe I’ll just open it up here if you want to share in the chat. Have you used any of these sources before to cover summer programming or to increase access, or are there other sources you’ve had success using? And you can share in the chat or Q&A. I’m not seeing anything. I’m hoping someone might chime in. Have you ever used any of these sources of funds for extended year programming or maybe not, and you have other funds in mind? Okay, Phoebe, “We partnered with the YMCA statewide Alliance last summer.” That’s great. Yes, YMCA is a big player in summer programming.

Rita, yes. Philanthropy from local corporations. Okay, that’s great. If you’ve got companies, maybe big or small companies in your community, they may be willing to make charitable donations in support of summer programming access. Phoebe, “We utilize ARP to assist with the partnership.” Okay, so those American Rescue Plan funds are coming in handy. I’m glad to hear that. And I think Phoebe, right? I think I’m getting this right. Phoebe works at the state level in New Jersey, and so this is also something that you could speak with your state coordinator for homeless education about. There are partnerships that are being supported at the state level and the local level. Rita mentioned partnerships with the local art museum, art school, and symphony for young people interested in music. That’s great.

Okay. Ah, Phoebe’s Regional now. Okay. Okay. Phoebe used to be at the state level, she’s regional now. But it sounds like you’re still staying connected with important state level happening, so that’s great. All right.

I’m going to recommend some summer program partners in your area and then in a little bit I’ll provide some links. It’s a good idea, start now, and maybe start a Google sheet, a spreadsheet, a Word document to begin gathering information about summer programming in your area. Reach out to the school district. I realized that many of the folks on the lines today might be with the school district, but if you’re not, school district is a big player in summer programming, so you may want to try to connect with the district extended year or summer programming director or the local homeless education liaison. Don’t forget about your county parks and recreation, departments, libraries, faith-based organizations.

Don’t forget about summer internships for students with local businesses. Those would be more appropriate for older youth. Also, local community colleges oftentimes offer youth summer programs. Related to summer internships, and I think I provide this link in a few slides, workforce development boards often have youth summer programming to connect them with career and technical education training or internships with local businesses. So your workforce development boards may be a good partner as well. And it doesn’t hurt to just Google. I started just, “Okay, let me see what it would look like to find programming in my area. That’s Prince George’s County, Maryland, and just did some Googling or ask around. Maybe when you start making connections with the folks on the screen there, they may say, “Hey, and don’t forget, check over here. They have good programs as well that we recommend young people to when our programming ends,” or something of that nature.

So specifically, here are some links. Again, I’m going to prime the pump for other strategies or directories that you have used to locate summer programming. Check in with After school network. I want to scroll back and see. So Phoebe’s mentioning the statewide alliance. Every state has an after school network that oftentimes provides extended year programming as well, or will know who provides extended year programming throughout the state. A camp might be an option, that could be a day camp or an overnight camp. You can locate camps in your area from the American Camp Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs. They provide summer programming in many communities, and you can find a club near you. Don’t forget about summer employment and training opportunities available to youth from your local workforce development board. The National Summer Learning Association has a Discover Summer website where you can search by city.

I’ll be honest, I found the search feature to be a little bit clunky, but you can scroll and see if there’s something in your area. Don’t forget about your 21st Century Community Learning Center director. That could be at the state level or the local level. Another option for finding summer programming, TeenSummerCamps in your state. And the United Way operates in, I believe there’s a 211 or United Way Service that provides service for all communities across the United States, and they often serve as an information and referral network for human services. And so you might want to check in with your United Way about available programming. And also, again, YMCA big players and you can find your local YMCA there.

I’d love to hear from you all, are there strategies you’ve used to find local summer programming in your area? It can be something I’ve already suggested that you found to be helpful or maybe a different strategy? Or on a related note, maybe you’ll share who are the big summer programming players in your area if you’ve already engaged in reaching out to summer programs. I’m looking in the chat. A little bit of a quiet group today. Hope some of you guys will share, again, who are your key partners or are there other strategies you’ve used to find local summer programming?

Okay. I’ll just add quickly if you want everyone to see your comments, if you’ll just click the little blue box in the chat and select everyone for the drop-down. But Tawana mentioned, parks and recreation and social media. So Tawana, you’ve had some luck finding programming on social media. That’s great. I guess that’s very modern of you. We should all take notes. Brian mentioned district government agencies. Okay, so the public sector. Thank you. Okay, Cynthia mentioned I’m going to drop that in the chat since I think that just went to hosts and panelists. Cynthia, if you want to just share a little bit more, do you actually find programming there or is it to help cover the cost of programming or both? Holly mentions lots of internet searches depending on the family’s preferences. Yes, sometimes it’s not polished or fancy, but just getting on the internet and searching and being scrappy about it. I’ve done that more than once.

All right. Another type of programming that you may want to keep in mind that will be of use to many families experiencing homelessness is summer food supports. So the US Department of Agriculture or the USDA, which operates the free and reduced price meals program in schools throughout the school year, they also have a summer meal program and they have a Summer Meals for Kids Site Finder. So that may be helpful for you if you have families coming to you and saying, “Hey, free school meals are a major source of food for my children and I’m worried about what that looks like over the summer.” Connect them to the USDA summer meals program. Also, No Kid Hungry, that’s a national nonprofit organization focus on food insecurity. They have a meal finder website or you can share this with your English speaking or Spanish speaking if that’s helpful, families that they can text, FOOD, or, COMIDA, to 304-304 and find where there is a summer meal site nearby.

Excuse me, questions for you that I hope you’ll respond to in the chat. Again, what summer programs are available in your area? We’ve actually kind of covered that, but if anyone else wants to chime in, I would love that. But now rethinking, we’ve talked about some of the barriers, program cost, lack of transportation, lack of awareness of available programming. What strategies have you used or maybe now you’re realizing you could use to increase access to summer programming for McKinney-Vento students by eliminating or addressing some of those barriers? Any strategies you have used or now are considering using?

I’m looking in the chat. Ashley, “Searching for programs early before they fill up.” That’s right. That was one of the barriers is lack of program capacity. So again, it’s a good idea. Start now. Start now so that you’re not scrambling or your families aren’t scrambling at the last minute and you’re giving them the best possible opportunity to get connected to program slots. Thank you. Other strategies. I do want to underscore, and this isn’t the magic fix for every situation.

And to be honest, summer programming is a little bit of a different scenario than K-12 public schooling year round because that is a guaranteed right for children and youth of school age in this country, right? No matter where they live, there will be a school that can and must serve them. But it’s a little different with summer programming that in most states is not required programming or there’s no guarantee of slots or even guarantee that a particular type of programming will be present in a local community. So it is a little scrappier. It’s a little bit of a roll up your sleeves, see what you can find, pull together all the information you have.

But I do want to really underscore, some school districts, I have heard of some school districts who have said, “We’ve spent our ARP-HCY funds or we’ve got them all obligated, so we’re committed at this point. There’s no extra funding.” But a lot of them. That’s part of that interest in late liquidation. A lot of school districts have said, “Wow, timing snuck up on us. It took us longer to get ARP-HCY funded initiative started and now we realize the funding deadline, at least for the moment, again, not knowing about late liquidation is coming up sooner than we thought. Summer 2024 is a great opportunity. Get connected to your homeless education program locally in the school district and remember that this is an allowable usage of funds and that could include program fees or transportation.”

Holly mentioned, “Approaching families now to get them thinking about youth needs for the summer.” Again, a nod to the time sensitivity of this and that sooner is probably better. To want to maybe take the summer program to them. Homeless shelters or group homes. That’s right. Location can be a barrier. This may make sense, particularly in a community, a larger urban community that might have a larger family shelter where there are a number of young people staying there with their families. So to have onsite programming would make sense. And actually, if it’s academic-focused programming, McKinney-Vento sub-grant funds could be used to support shelter-based programming.

Any questions or comments? Pausing. Take a moment to digest and see if anything’s unclear. Okay, I’m going to keep us moving. I’m going to recommend some next steps for outreach and planning. A good thing, start now. We’ve heard the time sensitivity of it echoed from multiple people. So start now and conduct an asset map of summer programming in your state and community. That can include using the ideas and directories or online links or strategies that have been shared previously. And don’t forget, if you’re at the local level, it’s not a bad idea. Check in with some of your state-level folks who might know about things in your community.

Pull together a brief summer programming directory based off of your asset map so that it’s in a clean or just easily digestible format. That could be internally. Maybe if you’re in a school district and you have school social workers that interface with family experiencing homelessness, share the information with them or with school counselors. Just anyone in your school district or in your organization who interface with families about their programming needs. That might be a good resource to hand to them. But you also could have it ready for public facing use, meaning in a format that’s family friendly, so maybe pretty simple, a little bit of information about the family, any related deadlines, any prioritization they might be eligible for, any cost assistance or transportation assistance so that that information is ready and in a digestible format. Go ahead and seek out targeted partnership with public and private programs in support of McKinney-Vento students. Make the case that low-income students are much less likely to be able to access these programs and that it is an equity issue.

So seek out those targeted partnerships. Seek out a conversation with your school district, ARP-HCY folks, the Homeless Ed programs, your private program, someone mentioned earlier, connecting with corporate partners. Get in there if you can and make the case for the need to really target the supports specifically to McKinney-Vento students, and consider all available options for removing barriers to program participation, and that could include related to transportation and cost. Remember some of those funding sources mentioned earlier. Again, another plug for ARP-HCY funds.

Are there any other recommended outreach or planning strategies or next step that you might share? And i’ll already say we’ve heard some in the chat already. Again, start now and search for programs before they’re filled up. Other thoughts on some good next steps?

Okay, I’m not seeing anything in the chat. I’m going to keep us moving here. Here is a recommended resource for you. The National Summer Learning Association website is a great website. They have upcoming events, many of which I believe are free. So there’s a summer planning boot camp that’s upcoming. I don’t believe they’ve opened registration, but if you have identified this as a key need in your area, you might want to check out that planning boot camp. Also, they have a tip sheet on summer learning ideas at home and in your community. This might be something that would be of use for your families who say, “Okay, we’re in the shelter and for any number of reasons as of yet, my child is not enrolled in formal programming. Can you give me any ideas for something we can do together at home or in this case in the shelter?”

National Summer Learning Association also has lots of training and support opportunities, if this is a big focus or you need some help in this area. They also have a partnership with Netflix for free summer activities. So that might be, again, something outside of formal programming, but that could be helpful for families. And they do have policy and research resources. So visit if any of these resources appeal to you.

So we do have time. We’ve still got time left, but I’d like to hear from you before we stop for any remaining questions. If you could share your thoughts, that’d be great. What is one key takeaway, meaning maybe something new you learned or a next step to put into practice something you learned from today’s session? Okay, so again, inviting you to share a key takeaway or a next step in the chat. I do see that we have a comment that says, “A number of cities have transportation issues, lack of bus drivers.” That’s right. That has been something ongoing since the pandemic. Also, adults may be well-intentioned in program planning. However, how often our children consulted in what they need or they’re interested in. So thank you for that reminder. It’s a good idea to check with the family or the child, “What are you actually interested in being a part of?”

Have a conversation with the family about their needs with the child, about their interests and see if there’s a good match with programming. One other transportation source that might be worth looking into, some localities have access to, they’re basically ride providers. Of course some school districts have worked out corporate Uber accounts. But also there’s something called HopSkipDrive, which is like an Uber, but for school-related transportation. And my guess is they also provide summer programming transportation. You could use your ARP-HCY funds or your McKinney-Vento sub-grant funds there. So that might be something to help. Again, it’s not going to be a fix-it in every community, but there might be a ride-share option specific to children and youth in your community.

I’d like to recommend the next step just based on what we’ve heard today, which is, start now. So don’t wait until April. So if you’ve got some time, either before the holidays or when you come back for the new year, start now finding out about available programs. Maybe reaching out and saying, “Would you be willing to reserve a few slots?” Or, “How can we partner together to remove barriers for these students who really need this programming but might be less likely to access them?” So start now. That’s I guess my recommended next step, and you can decide if that is something you want to take on or not.

So we’re a little early. I’m going to go back to questions or comments and encourage you to share your thoughts in Q&A or the chat about anything we’ve discussed or any recommendations you have for the group. It’s been a little bit of a quiet group today. Maybe people are having holiday brain. I saw a meme online that it’s beginning to feel like circle back after the holiday season. So I don’t know, maybe you guys are in circle back after the holidays’ mode, but love to hear any remaining questions or comments. We’ve got some time.

Okay, seeing none, I am going to just say thank you so much for joining. I hope today was helpful. I am going to stop sharing. I believe Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium has a few things they’d like to share with you before you log off.

Jessica Webster:

Wow, thank you so much for all that information and lots to think about for us educators as we move into the spring months. I think it’s a little hard to think about summer coming, but as a former principal, you come back in January and, Kailanya, you can probably attest to the fact that spring is right around the corner.

Kailanya Brailey:


Jessica Webster:

Yeah. It goes really fast once we get back in January. So please take the time to really begin thinking about these families and the work that needs to be done with them. And I think some of you were talking a lot in the chat, I see a lot about challenges and barriers, all the more reason to start early so we can navigate those barriers for our families. Kailanya, anything you want to add before we talk about or save the date?

Kailanya Brailey:

No, you hit it. That was good.

Jessica Webster:

All right. So one thing we’re really excited about that we wanted to share with you is our CEE team, which is our Center for Educational Equity, has been providing office hours. And if you’re an educator who’s seeking guidance on overcoming challenges that are related to educational equity, we encourage you to join the Center for Educational Equity’s Office Hours. This is a monthly Zoom and you have the opportunity there to connect with our team of experts at MAEC to support tailored supports and actionable solutions to those challenges we all face. And the next one will be on January 18th. They’re from 12 to one o’clock. We’ll put the registration for you in the chat. And the session in January, we’ll be talking about diversifying our teacher workforce, so diverse teacher recruitment and development. So we hope that you can join us. If you know anyone who would be interested in that, please share the information with them as well.

This is also a really good place for us to plug our podcast that we have happening. Nikevia and I are in the midst of producing a podcast that is related to family engagement, which we talk to experts from all over the country, and we talk to them about different strategies, really evidence-based approaches to connecting with families in equitable ways. And so we’ll get that into the chat for you as well, so you can see some of our episodes that have already been finished and uploaded, and we have a few more coming out shortly that we’re really excited about with some really great individuals that we talked to. So we’re excited for that as well.

And with that, our leads, our project managers for both the CEE team and the CAFE team are Rita Perez, who’s here on the call with us today, and Daryl Williams. And we encourage you always to reach out to us with any ideas, questions, needs, for resources, anything you have. Kailanya, any final parting thoughts?

Kailanya Brailey:

We just thank you all for being with us today. Our survey link is available for you in the chat if you’d be so kind as to give us some feedback on your experience. But this was wonderful. Thank you again to Christina.

Jessica Webster:

Yeah, yeah. And with that, we wish you a happy holiday season and we’ll give you the gift of some time back in your afternoon today. So best wishes to you this holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Kailanya Brailey:

Take care.

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