Homeless Children's Initiative
The Bucks County Schools Intermediate Unit (BCIU) is the managing agent for Region #8 for the state’s Homeless Children’s Initiative (HCI). Region #8 includes the counties of Bucks, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton. To cover this 5-county region, a collaborative effort has been formed which includes the BCIU, the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU) and the Allentown School District (ASD).
This regional site is built around the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Act and emphasis is placed on ensuring that homeless children and youth are immediately enrolled in school. The Site Coordinators serve a variety of purposes intended to manage the project in the most effective and efficient manner. Problem solving, public relations, increasing awareness of how to help homeless children, encouraging homeless parents, outreach visits and mailings, tracking of students and making referrals are some of the key activities.
We invite all school district, agency and shelter staff within Region #8 to contact us at any time. Placing posters and other literature at key agencies and food pantries has contributed to families knowing about school choice and that residency does not have to be proven. Many have enrolled their children that otherwise would most likely not have put their children in school for fear of child protection services or for thinking they are in trouble because of their homelessness.
When working in adensely populated region with multiple school districts, efforts are taken to keep children in their schools of origin whenever possible.The results are fewer absences, fewer school changes and better academic achievement. We encourage school districts to work together on transportation, and to use existing routes whenever possible.
Speaking to homeless parents allows us to provide referrals, develop strategies, encourage them as to how to best help their children in school, and respond to requests for school supplies and school activity fees.
One of the major accomplishments that we strive for is excellence in every response, and we always respond to every request and phone call in a timely manner.