K to College is building a statewide supply bank, similar to a food bank, as a sustainable nonprofit solution to efficiently and systematically provide basic material needs assistance to all homeless and other under-resourced kids. This collaborative project involves manufacturers, several public agencies, corporate partners and more than 200 school districts and county offices of education.Children Go Without Basic Material Needs Met
During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly 297,000 children and youth enrolled in California public schools were identified as homeless according to the California Department of Education (CDE). Based on academic research, a survey of more than 200 school district homeless liaisons and our own experiences with school districts that represent more than 90% of this population, we can conclude that the basic material needs of these children and youth are largely unmet. These are kids attending school without school supplies, clean clothes, the ability to brush their teeth and other symptoms of basic material needs going unmet.
While there are several actions needed to alleviate the many hardships faced by homeless children, the lack or absence of basic material needs assistance, which additionally impacts other impoverished kids, reflects the overwhelming need for one piece of the puzzle. Not discrediting the numerous community supply drives and like-minded efforts throughout California and the United States each year, they are in large part isolated to one particular community and thus lack scalability. Additionally, nearly all of these efforts do not coordinate with school districts, which are the only entities that can systematically distribute to those children and youth most in need.
Above: California's K-12 homeless population by county. Los Angeles County accounts for roughly one-fifth of the state's total with more than 67,000 homeless children and youth. In total, there were just under 297,000 kids statewide and likely more than 300,000 when accounting for children in the 0-5 age range.The Need to Build a Statewide Supply Bank and How It Reaches Kids Throughout the State
What is needed for California to meet the basic material needs of children and youth is a statewide supply bank, similar to a food bank, which can efficiently and systematically provide assistance to all homeless and other under-resourced kids by working with local school districts and county offices of education. Food Banks were created to serve as a centralized distribution hub that could achieve economies of scale and simplify the process for farmers, government agencies and other parties to fight hunger, while also sending food to organizations on the front lines of hunger such as soup kitchens, shelters, churches and other organizations.
K to College’s supply bank will serve as the central distribution hub, with school districts and domestic violence shelters serving as front line organizations that systematically distribute to kids most in-need. Moving in this direction, K to College has partnered with more than 200 school districts and county offices of education establishing the statewide structure to systematically provide every homeless child with basic material needs assistance.
As required by the U.S. McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, each school district designates at least one McKinney-Vento (homeless) liaison. Often the point person(s) for our program coordination and planning, each liaison identifies homeless children enrolled in their district and is responsible for distributing goods, referring services and other support measures. To identify preschool-aged children we work with County First 5 Commissions, who can identify the best programs and/or shelters. Although eligible, children and youth residing in domestic violence shelters are not identified through the McKinney-Vento law, as their privacy is critical. Therefore, K to College partners with these shelters directly for distribution to the kids residing in their facilities.Moving Forward
Preparing to distribute resources to several tens of thousands of kids in more than 200 school districts this coming year, K to College is continuing to develop additional partnerships to make this vision a reality – benefiting all under-resourced children and youth in California.
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