Las Cruces Public Schools' homeless student outreach program provides updates for fall
LAS CRUCES - Las Cruces Public Schools' program for supporting students experiencing homelessness had some changes this year, namely in funding.
The McKinney Vento Act requires schools to enroll students who are experiencing homelessness immediately, even if they do not have the required documentation that is needed for enrollment.
McKinney Vento Project Link at LCPS collaborates with the community, organizations and school staff to identify and provide services to these students.
In 2020, LCPS identified 665 students experiencing homelessness in the district.
Ray Banegas, federal programs coordinator for LCPS, presented the update during Tuesday's school board meeting.
The America Rescue Plan for Homeless Children and Youth grant is a new funding source for Project Link. The grant is part of federal COVID-19 relief funding.
LCPS Public Information Officer Kelly Jameson said the district received $65,907 for the first round of funding. Banegas said a second round will come in mid-August.
The funding will be used to pay for hotel stays for families who are facing homeless situations, restricted Walmart gift cards for food, school supplies and clothing, and extra hours agreements for staff for program identification and community outreach.
With the beginning of a new year, a critical period of registration clears all families from the system, and they must be reevaluated to see if they still qualify for the services Project Link offers. Project Link staff must reevaluate these families and asses all new referrals.
Families can always self-refer to get services from Project Link, but Banegas said that school staff can now refer students experiencing homelessness using the student information system — a change from previous years. In both cases, the referral alerts McKinney Vento staff, who then conduct an assessment to determine their eligibility.
Services Project Link provides:
- School enrollment assistance
- Assistance in receiving equitable educational services
- Identify resources to meet each family's needs
- Basic school supplies, hygiene items and clothes
- Help to locate emergency assistance and referrals to community service agencies
- Help with transportation
- Free lunch
For information on Project Link, visit www.lcps.net/federal-programs/project-link-homeless-education-program-mckinney-vento.
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