The McKinney-Vento Program at CDE is deeply committed to assisting the unaccompanied homeless youth of our state to receive a quality K-12 education, graduate from high school and gain access to and complete higher education. We provide technical support for Colorado school districts and colleges to assure compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance and College Cost Reduction Acts.
The Colorado Taskforce on Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness was formed to lead a collaborate effort bringing together K-12 McKinney-Vento public school district liaisons, higher education financial aid, admissions and student support services staff, as well as other public/private partners such a pre-collegiate agencies, scholarship organizations and funding partners.
In 2009, colleges and universities across the state of Colorado appointed higher education homeless liaisons, also known as “Single Points of Contact” (SPOCs), to help youth successfully matriculate into higher education and address barriers to their academic advancement. Multiple barriers have been addressed, including: the waiving of application and other fees at higher education institutions (when possible); changing the timing of housing deposits so that students can pay when financial aid is received by the student; and connecting students with other community and higher education resources such as financial literacy, peer support groups, food banks, etc.
In 2011, the Family Tree’s Education Fund for Homeless Youth was established through the generosity of a private funding source, Family Tree and Western Union. The Fund provides gift cards of up to $100 to assist unaccompanied homeless college students to purchase essential items such as school supplies, student ID’s, vital documents, dormitory sheet sets and hygiene items.
The State of Colorado truly believes that the asset of an education is a key poverty reduction strategy, and is a leading approach in breaking the cycle of poverty for our state’s unaccompanied homeless youth.