Unfamiliar with the McKinney-Vento Act? The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, enacted in 1987, is a United States law that ensures federal money is allocated for homeless shelters and programs. An important aspect of the Act is the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program. The program "ensures that homeless children and youth are provided a free, appropriate public education, despite lack of a fixed place of residence or a supervising parent or guardian. Every school district in Oregon has at least one designated Homeless Student Liaison to provide direct assistance to homeless families and unaccompanied youths to access and achieve in school (Oregon Department of Education)."
Deborah Dailey has been partnering with Looking Glass Runaway and Homeless Youth Services to provide help, hope, and healing to homeless youth as a McKinney-Vento Liaison in our area for over a decade. Here is what Deborah had to share about her experience in a Q&A:
Q. How long have you worked as the McKinney-Vento Liason?
A. I have worked on behalf of McKinney-Vento students for over 11 years, 9 years as the (4J) District Liaison.
Q. What brought you to this line of work?
A. I have worked in Education for 20 years and have always been drawn to working along side of students that are vulnerable, traumatized, and/or needing extra support or advocacy.
Q. What do you find most rewarding?
A. I love when students are thriving and excited about learning no matter what their educational path is. Connecting students to agencies or providing services within the McKinney-Vento Program that will advance them on their own journey is often rewarding. Witnessing students working though issues like mental health, housing, and food insecurities is very worthwhile to me.
Q. Most challenging?
A. I find re-engaging youth in their educational process, students falling off my radar, and students experiencing safety concerns can be taxing. It seems the more they fall away from stability (in all forms) the harder it is to make a difference.
Q. Can you describe how you partner with Looking Glass in your role as the M-V Liaison for the Eugene 4J School district?
A. Looking Glass is my go-to agency for students that are unaccompanied youth. From referrals to Station 7 (for a safe place to stay) and New Roads School (for students wanting to reconnect with their educational involvement), to housing, counseling, and basic needs.
Q. What is a unique strength of Looking Glass as a partnering agency that you have observed?
A. Consistency! Through thick and thin Looking Glass is there.
Q. If you could share one message with the public about youth homelessness in Eugene, what would that message be?
A. Stay out of judgement. Give youth the benefit of the doubt. Youth are doing the best they can with what they know, have, and understand in that moment.
Looking Glass recognizes Deborah as an integral partner in serving youth experiencing homelessness in our community. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication, Deborah! To learn more about the McKinney-Vento Liaison program in Oregon, please visit the ODE website here.