Texas Homeless Education Office
2901 N IH 35, Room 2.200
Austin, Texas 78722-2348
Toll free (Texas): 800-446-3142
Ensuring access to public education for children and youth in transition.
Michelle De La Pena
The Texas Homeless Education Office is jointly sponsored by the following:
• The United States Department of Education
• The Texas Education Agency
• Region 10 Education Service Center
• The University of Texas at Austin, Charles A. Dana Center
The Texas Homeless Education Office
The Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) is committed to ensuring that all school-age children who are experiencing homelessness in Texas have access to a free and appropriate public education. In its efforts to accomplish this goal, the office provides a variety of services to school districts, education service centers, shelters, higher education institutions, state agencies, advocates, students, parents, caregivers, service providers, and other interested parties.
ASSISTANCE TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The THEO assists school districts to do the following:
1) identify and address barriers to the education ofhomeless children and youth;
2) provide staff development for teachers, counselors, support staff, administrators, and others to help them understand and meet the special needs of students experiencing homelessness; and
3) set up effective collaborative efforts, with other district programs and with the greater community, that will help them meet the educational, medical, dental, psychological, and physical needs of students and families in homeless situations.
ASSISTANCE TO STUDENTS
The THEO assists students (and advocates for students) who are experiencing difficulty enrolling in public school because of their homelessness. The THEO works with both sending and receiving districts to clarify withdrawal and enrollment procedures.
Contact THEO’s hotline for assistance: 1-800-446-3142.
The THEO provides training on a variety of topics related to homelessness for any interested agency, organization, or school district.
Kids Helping Kids:
Real Life Examples of What Kids are Doing to Help Homeless People
Jacob Van der Wiel, an 11 year-old from Texas, decided there must be something he could do to help homeless people. With the help of his mom, Jacob created limited edition collectible teddy bears, Y2K Jacob and Millenium Myrtle. The bears were auctioned on ebay.com, and all proceeds were given to The National Coalition for the Homeless. “It is important that more people learn about homelessness and especially the needs of children,” Jacob said. “I hope to encourage students around the country to know that they are important people and they too can make a difference.”
Many schools in Louisiana build model houses and place them in halls and cafeterias to collect specific items for homeless families. One month these Houses of Hope might collect soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. The next month they might focus on pennies or holiday gifts. Each house is opened at the end of the month and the collection is shared with homeless families.
The Maryland Department of Education requires that all high school students complete 75 hours of service-learning before graduating. Service-learning projects can be performed in the classroom (giving a speech about homelessness), on a school wide basis (holding a fundraiser), or outside of school (volunteering at a homeless shelter).