North Monterey County Unified School District’s Homeless and Foster Students Boast a 91 Percent Graduation Rate

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Success Tied to Comprehensive Programs and Services Offered From Birth to Adulthood

The North Monterey County Unified School District (NMCUSD) today announced that while its homeless and foster student population represents 35 percent of its enrollment, these students boast a graduation rate of 91 percent, rivaling that of its housed students. This significant achievement is a result of a multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS), where the District focuses on equity for all, beginning in infancy and extending through adulthood. Through this system, NMCUSD offers a collective approach for continued improvement from cradle to career.

"Our at-risk students are a very high priority in North Monterey County," said Kari Yeater, NMCUSD Superintendent. "With nearly 35 percent of students suffering from some stage of homelessness, it’s imperative they have the support structure in place that delivers access to early education, and guidance as they move from kindergarten to graduation. We are very proud of our extremely high success rates, allowing these students to reach their full potential both here and in whatever their endeavors are post-graduation. Their success also benefits our community, when qualified and job-ready students return to begin their careers."

Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA Report

A recent report from the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA, entitled "State of Crisis: Dismantling Student Homelessness in California", makes it clear that, due to the scale of the challenges, districts need more accurate and effective ways to identify, and then support, to ensure these students don’t fall through the cracks. The North Monterey County Unified School District is no stranger to this crisis, and is home to a higher enrollment percentage of homeless youth than any other District included in the report, including major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, and surrounding areas.

By offering services and support that begin well before school age, NMCUSD is seeing improvements in absenteeism rates, varying only one percentage point between homeless and housed students, and graduation rates three percent higher than housed students (91 versus 88) as noted in the report. In addition, 33 percent of homeless youth met UC/CSU requirements, versus 41 percent of housed students.

Comprehensive Support and Services

As the report details, Federal regulations under the McKinley-Vento Act requires "that all students experiencing homelessness age 21 and under, be afforded access to public education. Under the law, all school districts, charters, states, and postsecondary institutions, when applicable, are required to remove barriers to enrollment, attendance and educational success for students experiencing homelessness".

The Act was designed to support the educational success of homeless students. Yet the report also notes that only 106 of California’s 1037 school districts received federal funding, meaning only 36 percent of California’s homeless youth (one in three) are impacted by those dollars. North Monterey County is not among the Districts funded.

Extended Services from Birth to Adulthood

With a large migrant community, NMCUSD provides services beginning in infancy and continuing to adulthood. Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) teams include coordinated services and access to the District’s Family Resource Center, offering clothing and food supplies, food resources and shower/laundry access. MTSS support teams also includes a community liaison, site administrators, school-based mental health counselors, a caring adult/teacher, a social worker, and partnerships with a number of local agencies, including:

  • Monterey County Behavioral Health Services

  • Monterey County CHOICE Assistance Programs & Outreach Services

  • Castroville Coalition Non-Profit Partner

    • United Way (Emergency Shelter Food Program grant)

    • Community Foundation (COVID relief)

    • CA Endowment Funds

  • Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Mobile Clinic

  • Gift Giving Projects (NMC Fire, NMCUSD staff, local businesses)

"Education in our District doesn’t begin in pre-K or Kindergarten, it begins at birth," added Yeater. "Our homeless and foster youth are a top priority, and we actively recruit students who are eligible, adding students as they are identified. The journey begins with providing a "Parents as Teachers" training and childcare so parents can go to work, while supporting their children as they continue through their school years and beyond."

The District focuses heavily on a collective impact model and family case management, with three community action teams focused on early years (birth to third grade), middle years (fourth to eighth grade) and high and beyond (ninth to adulthood). Referrals are managed after identification to provide comprehensive and responsive services to the student and their family. MTSS team members conduct home visits and follow up on referrals, outreach staff secure school supplies and clothing, meals, provide emergency transportation and delivery of meals and school instructional materials. In addition, they assist with access to childcare services and with applications for local resources including food, gift certificates, housing vouchers, no or low-cost internet, utilities and rental assistance.

Services for homeless youth begin with child development, day care and preschool, and parenting classes. After-school safety and learning programs are also offered from 6am until 6pm each weekday. Action teams support students as they move through the District, keeping them on track with schoolwork, while also offering access to extra-curricular and leadership activities. All of these services support the District’s solid graduation rates for all students, regardless of need.

About North Monterey County Unified School District

The K-12 NMCUSD is an innovative community school system, equipping preschool (infants) to adult students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes they will need to pursue their life goals responsibly and creatively in a radically changing society. Comprised of eight schools and serving over 5,000 children and adults, the District provides comprehensive services including infant and child care, adult education, before and after school care, meal services, Special Education, mental and physical health services, migrant education and a Family Resource Center. For more information, visit the District’s website.

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Allison Niday
Impact Communications

Kelly Karr
Impact Communications

Yvette Padilla
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent/Public Relations