Homelessness is a devastating circumstance for anyone, but for youth on their own, known as unaccompanied minors, the stresses are multiplied. The myriad of challenges faced and multilayered trauma puts them at risk of academic failure and 87% more likely of dropping out of school.
Last school-year, there were over 50 homeless unaccompanied minors identified in the Renton School District. These students were under the age of 18 without a legal guardian and did not have a permanent address. With this population increasing every year, we are implementing a Mobile Case-Manager solely dedicated to working with this vulnerable population.
Our Mobile Case Manager travels to all three Renton High Schools and meet weekly with a caseload of 45-50 students to discuss and develop strategies to overcome the specific challenges that they are facing, monitor academic progress to ensure graduation, and develop post high school plans.
These supports given are sustained, strategic, intrusive and integrated, and personalized. Sustained supports will be throughout the year focusing on both high school graduation and post high school planning. Strategic needs are met by receiving the right services at the right time in the manner that is most appropriate to fulfill their needs. Services that are intrusive and integrated require students to participate in regular check-in sessions. Finally, student supports will be personalized to address their individual needs.
With this new, innovative strategy to support this underserved population of students, the ultimate goal is to increase on-time and 5-year graduation rates. Among the three comprehensive Renton High Schools, 2018 graduation rates for homeless youth was as low as 55% compared to 87% of non-homeless students within the same school.
Our model of integrated student supports will allow us to discover and address the needs of unaccompanied homeless students, ensuring that they are given an equal opportunity succeed in school leading to higher graduation rates.