Gov. Malloy: Pilot Program Raises Awareness of Youth Homelessness and Provides Guidance on Available Resources
Newly Developed Toolkit Connects Youth in Need with Assistance
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Evonne M. Klein, and State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna Wentzell today announced a new pilot program for students and faculty that raises awareness of youth homelessness and provides guidance on how students can seek assistance.
In a partnership between the State of Connecticut, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the Institute for Community Research, and the Meriden Public School system, a free toolkit has been developed to raise awareness among high school students about their rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Additionally, the toolkit provides information on how to access resources available to them under this act.
“What was once only a dream – ending homelessness across all populations – is now within our reach,” Governor Malloy said. “We know that with smart investments and providing needed services we can accomplish this goal. The launch of this new program focused on youth homelessness is an important next step to ensure that all our residents have a place to call home.”
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that defines best practices for addressing housing instability in a school setting and ensures that appropriate resources are available to youth who are homeless or housing unstable.
The free toolkit is now available to all schools to download online.
“Understanding and recognizing the signs of youth homelessness is an important step in the mission to ensure all Connecticut children and youth have a place to call home,” Commissioner Wentzell said. “This lesson plan provides an important tool for school districts looking to educate students about the problem of homelessness and to empower youth with the resources they need to get help. I applaud Meriden for making this work a priority and encourage other districts to use the toolkit to raise awareness about this important issue in their communities.”
“When it comes to preventing and ending homelessness, we’ve had great success,” Commissioner Klein said. “Schools are a critical partner in realizing an end to youth homelessness and this lesson plan raises awareness of this notoriously invisible population while highlighting who youth can contact for help. We strongly encourage other school districts conduct this lesson plan and will not stop until youth homelessness is a thing of the past.”
“The toolkit is an excellent resource for students and staff and is another way we can be sure to support our students by building positive relationships,” Meriden School Superintendent Mark Benigni said. “I encourage other Connecticut school districts to utilize these tools to inform and support their students as well.”
As a national leader in preventing and ending homelessness, Connecticut was the first state to end chronic veteran homelessness, is one of only three states who has effectively eliminated veteran homelessness, and is well on its way to ending chronic homelessness. Strong partnerships across all levels of government, combined with resources from the private and non-profit sector, are the reasons for this success.
Connecticut has committed to ending youth homelessness by 2020 through the CT Opening Doors for Youth Plan. Communities – and especially schools – are a vital partner in achieving this goal. Local homeless liaisons in each school district and faculty play an important role in identifying youth who may be at risk of housing instability, helping them remain and succeed in school, and connecting them with community supports.
Next month, Connecticut will be undertaking its second statewide census of youth homelessness. The 2017 Youth Count will be conducted in conjunction with the Point in Time count, an annual survey of homelessness across the state that is comprised of volunteers from all cities and towns going out into the community and finding homeless men and women. Last year was the first time that a youth census was wrapped into this statewide count.
The Youth Count will take place from January 25 to 31, 2017. This year is particularly important because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be using the data collected to assess all future counts. The 2015 Youth Count identified more than 3,000 homeless youth that hadn’t been previously identified. The data will be used in efforts to build a support system that will effectively end youth homelessness by 2020. Anybody interested in volunteering to take part in the Youth Count can sign up on participating can sign up on the website of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.
**Download: School Engagement Packet – Involving Your Schools in Ending Youth Homelessness