The Families in Transition Program for Duluth Public Schools was founded in the spirit of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act, an act developed as a federal response to the national problem of homelessness.
Our work, at its core, is to ensure that right of a free and appropriate public education is upheld for homeless students in Duluth. To this end, we work to address and improve enrollment, attendance and academics for, typically, 450 students annually.
We are a K-12 program with a staff of four: consisting of a full time homeless advocate/coordinator, a part time social worker, a full time intervention teacher and a part time intervention teacher. We are work with schools, shelters and housing organizations and other community partners.
We are dedicated to addressing the barriers and baggage that come with homelessness for families and children. Being homeless is more than having limited access to shelter; homelessness leaves families more vulnerable to job instability, domestic violence, poor health and mental health care.
We work with parents and unaccompanied youth in shelter and who are living on their own to enroll and overcome barriers to getting enrolled into school as soon as possible.
K-5 we provide trauma-informed interventions in reading and math for homeless students. In addition to teaching reading and math, we provide a place, an adult connection, for students to be able to sift, sort and manage troubles so that, at school, they can just be an elementary student and get back to their classroom learning.
We work closely with older unaccompanied youth, often our “couch surfers”, youth who need support in getting to school, understanding what they need to complete school, help figuring out how to participate in extracurricular activities,and, often, need assistance in how to sustain themselves day to day. These youth need support services in getting birth certificates, social security cards, housing, busing and medical/food benefits.
Largely, our purpose is to meet people who are homeless, where they are at and, with them, figure out what forward looks like.