The Stewart B. McKinney Grant that has been awarded to the Scottsbluff Public Schools for the past ten years has made a big difference in the lives of many Panhandle students.
These students share a common temporary definition of ‘homeless’ during the time they are residents of the Panhandle Youth Shelter and Domestic Violence Shelter – shelters that provide a home for youth from the eleven Panhandle counties and occasionally other youth from across Nebraska and out-of-state.
The broad goal of the program is to provide an educational program and educational support to homeless youth in this area. These youth need to maintain involvement and contact with education and the Public School System to continue to “fit in” and establish a pattern of learning to be successful. Shelter youth need extra support and help to maintain an interest in school and to be able to succeed, because of the social and emotional problems associated with homelessness. Over the past ten years, evaluations have pointed out that the stability of an educational program and a connection to school helps overcome the trauma faced by youths. The part-time position of teacher/counselor at the shelter, provided by the McKinney Grant, allows the students to have one area, education, remain stable in their lives, while they overcome the trauma of a runaway/homeless status.
The services and programs for which the McKinney Grant continues to support are:
a) Maintaining students in present public school enrollment.
b) Re-connecting students to their school systems, re-enrollment and working with schools to obtain courses, credits and grade level placement until youth return to the community.
c) Providing tutoring to students at the Shelter to support either of the educational arrangements.
d) Working with schools and agencies to coordinate services for homeless youth.
e) Working with school personnel to make them aware of the specific educational needs of homeless youth.
f) Arranging for alternative G.E.D. programs for students who no longer wish to attend public schools and are beyond compulsory attendance age.
g) Facilitating the coordination of the Shelter educational program with all public schools and agencies involved in assisting the homeless youth.
h) Advocating, counseling, and instruction for youth.
i) Transitional planning to help youth develop a direction when they leave the Shelter.