SARASOTA, FL – There are many different scenarios for students who do not have a stable home: families who are staying with others, living in shelters, motels, campgrounds, or cars due to a loss of housing, or older teens who are not in the custody of a parent or guardian and are fending for themselves on the streets. For homeless families or displaced teens who are on their own, Safe Children Coalition’s Schoolhouse Link program serves as protector, support system and advocate.
To bolster Safe Children Coalition’s efforts on behalf of these youths, the McCune Family Foundation recently awarded a grant of $15,000 for the Schoolhouse Link program. In 2021, funding from the McCune Family Foundation directly supported program costs including staff salaries, transportation, and supplies for 66 youth including clothing, household supplies, books, and school-related expenses.
Every child has a right to a public education but, when their home is in turmoil, it can be overwhelming to navigate school and social services systems. Schoolhouse Link serves as an advocate, helping students in transition attend and succeed in school.
Schoolhouse Link helps to provide stability while students pursue their education, including funding for uncovered medical care, emergency medication, supportive counseling, housing subsidies, and rental and utility assistance, when appropriate. Additionally, the program assists homeless students with scholarships for ancillary expenses such as application fees, books, uniforms, computers, and other costs as they transition from high school to college or technical training opportunities.
McKinney-Vento Services (McKinney-Vento Act of 1987, last amended by Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015) are provided to students in residential transition to help them enroll, attend and/or succeed in school. In Sarasota County, Schoolhouse Link works with the Sarasota County School Board and serves as the district’s official “homeless liaison.” In addition, the program provides support to the entire family by linking them with essential service providers and community resources.
“The importance of providing support for children whose families are experiencing homelessness or teens who are without an adult guardian cannot be overstated,” said Schoolhouse Link program director Ellen McLaughlin. “Children who are dealing with homelessness are already at a significant disadvantage when it comes to being prepared for life and career success. We are most grateful to the McCune Family Foundation for its generous contribution as we work to ensure displaced youths enroll, stay in and graduate from school.”
The Schoolhouse Link program was created in 1998. Between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, the program served 926 homeless students. For more information, visit sccfl.org/schoolhouselink.
About Safe Children Coalition, Inc.
Safe Children Coalition, Inc. (SCC) serves as the lead agency for community-based care for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. SCC is a collaboration between local community agencies who provide services to children and families in need. SCC is committed to protecting children, strengthening families, and building community. The core functions provided by SCC include child welfare case management, foster care, adoption, independent living, prevention, diversion, quality management, and support services. Visit sccfl.org or call 941-371-4799.