Building School-Housing Partnerships for Families Experiencing Homelessness: Kansas City, KS and the 1400 Diplomas Initiative

On October 1st, a number of new provisions to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, took effect. These new provisions require even closer collaboration between state and local educational agencies and the homelessness services system across communities and states. To help you do that work, we are publishing a series of profiles this month of communities that are using innovative collaborative practices to increase the housing stability and school attendance of children and youth.

Kansas City, Kansas

Situated in a county with one of the highest rates of poverty in the state of Kansas, the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) identified a total of 1,400 students across 57 schools as experiencing homelessness at some time during the 2014-2015 school year. The 1400 Diplomas initiative was launched, through the efforts of the local McKinney-Vento Program, to draw attention to this issue, and focus on the importance of a multi-system, broad-based community response to address homelessness and its impact on educational outcomes.

In 2015, the Mayor Mark Holland and KCKPS Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Lane jointly supported a Call to Action for collaborative partnerships across social services and affordable housing providers to end family and youth homelessness, with a focus on educational outcomes, including school stability and high school completion. As a result of the Call to Action, a community collaborative called Kansas Community Leadership Enterprise (KCLE), made up of the public and private sectors, implemented ‘Impact Wednesday’ to expedite access to emergency assistance and supportive services throughout the school year to meet the needs of households identified by the McKinney-Vento Program.

Functioning as a ‘one-stop’ opportunity to address the range of needs for families and children, Impact Wednesday brings together in one facility every Wednesday morning agencies and resources from homelessness services, TANF, Medicaid, child support, child care, employment services, utility companies, public housing and private landlords, and many others.

As described in more detail in our profile, the coordinated and comprehensive community approach of Impact Wednesday is working.

  • Families are being housed rapidly and staying housed.
  • School stability is increasing.
  • Mainstream systems are coordinating with the homelessness assistance system and streamlining access to supportive services and benefits.
  • Community resources are being used more efficiently.
  • Public and private partners are collaborating to increase the number of households being served.

Because of its success in Kansas City, the Impact Wednesday model is being adopted and adapted by neighboring school districts and communities.

Read the full profile on the 1400 Diplomas initiative to learn more about their key strategies, partnerships, and plans for future program growth. 

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