School-Community Partnerships Toolkit
About the Toolkit
Schools and their human service partners often are stretched to capacity and operate in silos; and yet no single system can meet all needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, which span multiple life domains and include safe and stable housing, education and employment, permanent connections, and well-being. Gaps between systems create challenges for program staff and can lead to children, youth, and families not getting the help they need. Key human services systems – such as early care and education, K12 education, higher education, housing and homeless response, workforce development, health care, and behavioral health – must work together to identify children, youth, and families experiencing housing insecurity and deliver services in a coordinated and efficient manner.
The California HETAC’s School-Community Partnerships Toolkit aims to support schools and community agencies in building mutually-beneficial, stable, and responsive partnerships that benefit partner agencies and the children, youth, and families they serve.
Understanding Federal Definitions of Homelessness
This resource shares key federal definitions of homelessness (U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act) and the programs in which each of these definitions is used.
Navigating Different Definitions of Homelessness in Partnership Work
This resource recommends strategies for navigating different definitions of homelessness and partner priorities in collaborative work, including through engaging with intentionality and good will, leveraging areas of overlap across homelessness definitions, making good use of flexible and blended funding options, and leveraging all available supports through partner referrals.
Legislative Requirements for Collaboration in Support of Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness
This resource shares legislative requirements related to school-community partnerships in support of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness across federal statutes including Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act , the Head Start Act, the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Building School-Community Partnerships in Support of Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness (slide deck, customizable)
This slide deck can be used by local partner networks to establish the importance of school-community partnerships, provide a starting place and framework for building partnerships, and map action steps towards building mutually-beneficial school-community collaborations. The slide deck can be customized for the local context.
Considering School-Community Partnerships Along a Spectrum
This resource explores levels of school-community partnerships along a “partnership spectrum”, ranging from informal networking to full collaboration, and provides examples of school-community partnership levels focused on supporting children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. This resource can be used by school and community agencies to consider the current level of their partnership and how they might go about deepening and strengthening it to yield more impactful joint work in support of the children, youth, and families they serve.
School-Community Partner Inventory (customizable)
This spreadsheet resource provides partner networks with a template for gathering, maintaining, and sharing information on partners in an organized manner. The resource includes tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet organized by partner system (early childhood, K12 education, higher education, housing and homeless response, etc.), with the option for partner networks to customize the Additional System 1 and Additional system 2 tabs, if desired. The inventory also includes a Finding partners tab, which includes strategies and websites to help identify and reach out to potential partners. Partner networks may wish to store this inventory as an editable spreadsheet that can be updated easily on-demand or during partner meetings using a document sharing service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Creating a Partnership Organization Charter or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU, customizable)
This resource provides a sample partnership organization charter from San Diego County that can be used as a starting place for other communities to develop their own partnership organization charter or school-community partnership memorandum of understanding (MOU).
School-Community Partnership Meeting Agenda Template and Task List (customizable)
This resource provides a sample school-community partnership meeting working agenda template with corresponding pre-meeting and post-meeting tasks.
Engaging People with Lived Experience of Homelessness
This HETAC webpage explores various topics related to engaging people with lived experience of homelessness in homeless education and homeless response work, including in developing and implementing school-community partnerships. Resources included on this webpage explore a variety of related topics, including developing a shared mission, building a healthy and inclusive culture, compensating people with lived experience, and more.