Education is a critical element in breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Education can open doors to possibilities and future dreams and accomplishments for children whose lives have been restricted and confined. For homeless children/youth school should be a place they can count on for stability. It is the objective of Project Access to ensure equal access to education and all programs, and preserve the dignity of all homeless children and youth as they enter the public school system, and to insure that these children will not feel isolated or stigmatized due to their homelessness.
Project Access is School District U-46’s Homeless Education Program. Federal and State law mandates that every school district in the nation, appoint a Homeless Liaison to recruit and service homeless students in their district. School District U-46 has taken this one step further and created a program named Project Access. Project Access was started in 1995 and identified 96 students. Last year Project Access identified and serviced over 775 homeless students. The work is guided by the Stewart B. McKinney Act.
Project Access can:
- Advocate for homeless children and their families.
- Help insure that homeless children in the district will not feel stigmatized due to their homeless status.
- Provide school supplies, including backpacks and/or uniforms to each child.
- Coordinate efforts of district transportation and external resources to take students to and from school as needed.
- Make all school activities, including before and after school programs accessible to each child.
- Provide tutoring and/or accessibility to tutoring as needed.
- Help parents complete enrollment forms and assist in obtaining school records, immunization records, birth certificates and other records as needed.
- Coordinate efforts with local community agencies to provide basic needs and services for homeless students and families, including medical, vision and dental care on a limited basis.
- Create awareness of, and promote sensitivity to the educational and legal rights of homeless children and youth in school personnel.