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Mariah Ernst-collinsMariah Ernst-Collins
Homeless Education and Foster Youth Services Program Specialist

Homeless and Foster Youth

In accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, the Yolo County Office of Education protects the educational rights of homeless children and youth in Yolo County and provides services to assist them. According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act anyone who lacks a regular, fixed and adequate nighttime residmulti cultural handsence; lives in a shelter (family, domestic violence, youth or transitional living program); lives in a motel, hotel or weekly housing; is sharing housing due to economic hardship; is living in a public place not designated for sleeping (such as cars, parks, abandoned buildings, campgrounds or on the street); is in temporary foster care placement or with an adult who is not their parent or guardian; or is staying with friends or family because they are a runaway or unaccompanied youth. These individuals have the educational right to enroll in 

school with or without proper documentation or school records (including: proof of residency, immunization records, grades/transcripts, or legal guardianship papers) or to remain in the school of origin (the school the child last attended) for the duration of the academic year. They also have the educational rights to receive transportation to the school of origin, to participate fully in all school activities and programs and to automatically qualify for child nutrition programs.

In order to protect those educational rights, YCOE offers assistance with school enrollment, attendance and academic success; assistance with obtaining school and immunization records; referrals to community resources that assist with food, shelter and clothing; transportation resources to attend school; school supplies and resources; referrals to tutoring services; and parent consultation, including discussion of educational rights and responsibilities.

Foster Youth Services 
In accordance with AB 490, the Yolo County Office of Education protects the educational rights of foster children and youth in Yolo County and provides services to assist them. The Foster Youth Services Program is funded by a grant from the California Department of Education. Foster youth often experience numerous changes in placement and interruption in school. The emotional adjustments of these changes combined with the stress of falling behind in school can be overwhelming. Studies place the high school graduation rate of foster youth between 38% and 46%. In order to support foster children academically and emotionally, the Foster Youth Services program was established to meet these needs.

Under AB 490, foster youth have the rights to remain in their school of origin for the duration of the school year; to immediately enroll in school even if they are missing records normally needed for school enrollment; to attend a regular, mainstream school unless they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) requiring a different educational placement, or the person with educational rights determines that it is in the child’s best interest to attend a different educational program or remain in her school of origin; to have their school records transferred in a timely manner (2 days); to have their grades protected (a youth’s grades cannot be lowered due to absences caused by a change in placement, attendance at a court hearing, or a court-ordered activity); and to receive partial credits (schools must award all students credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed at another public school, a juvenile court school, or a non-public, non-sectarian school).


YCOE ensures that the rights of foster youth are being protected in accordance with AB 490. YCOE also offers to tutor; workshops (financial aid, career exploration, life skills, post-secondary education, self-advocacy); support for youth in completing their high school education; assistance with the transition from high school to post-secondary education; and school supplies and resources necessary for successful educational outcomes.