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Region 4 Education Service Center distributes COVID recovery funds to help homeless students

Continued efforts to help students and their families affected by homelessness is one of the top priorities for the Region 4 Education Service Center this year.

Region 4 Education Service Center is an education center committed to partnering with school districts and public charter schools in the Greater Houston area in an effort to promote excellence in education.

One of the key projects Region 4 is working on is the distribution of 2023-2024 ARP (American Rescue Plan) Homeless II, ESC (Education Service Center) COVID Recovery Reallocation Grant funds.

“When this grant first came out, districts had the opportunity to receive funding to help students and their families experiencing homelessness,” said education specialist LaShonda Evans.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families experienced some form of homelessness due to the state of the economy and job losses at the time. This money will be used to help families in a variety of ways.

“The idea was to provide districts with funding to help identify these students and start using the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law that has been around for a while,” said education specialist Twiana Collier. “We want to make sure families are aware of the different situations that could cause them to be considered homeless, because it’s more than just a family living under a bridge or in their car. The federal definition of homelessness is very broad.”

According to their website, the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program is the federal program that removes barriers to education for children and youth experiencing homelessness. The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless as children who do not have a permanent, regular, and adequate place of residence.

Some ways funding will be used to help students experiencing homelessness:

  • free or reduced lunch
  • better training for staff who come into contact with these students
  • rental assistance
  • providing backpacks, school supplies, hygiene kits, blankets, air mattresses
  • investing in trauma-oriented care
  • technical assistance
  • youth leadership events
  • gas and food cards
  • transportation services
  • tutoring services and college prep materials
  • laundry packages and clothes

The funding plan must be submitted by Region 4 to the Texas Education Agency for approval, after which funds will be available to districts on a first-come, first-served basis.

The McKinney-Vento Act has already provided tremendous relief to students and their families, and Region 4 hopes this additional funding will only continue to do so.

“Just the fact that parents can use that extra money for gas, because gas is so expensive, helps them in itself,” Evans said. “Because prices for everything are so high these days, it is very important for them that they can also buy food while they are at school. The fact that we can provide them with some of that funding goes a long way in helping families.”

For more information about the work of Region 4 Education Service Center, please visit the website or by e-mail (email protected).

The above story was produced by Sierra Rozen, Community Impact’s senior multi-platform journalist, with information provided solely by the local company as part of the purchase of ‘sponsored content’ through our advertising team.