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Berks County Intermediate Unit - An Educational Service Agency

pennsylvania's education for children and youth experiencing homelessness program

Helping children in Berks County and Region 2

BCIU’s program, a project site of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, provides support that helps Berks County children have an educational experience as uninterrupted as possible. The program offers enrollment assistance, transportation assistance, and educational and recreational experiences to homeless preschool and school-age children. Countywide, the program provides school supplies, clothing, and assistance with arranging transportation to and from school.

The HCI site coordinator also serves as the regional coordinator for Region 2. The regional coordinator ensures that schools in Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Schuylkill counties are familiar with their responsibilities to homeless students under the McKinney-Vento Act. Presentations on homelessness awareness, responsibilities of schools, and rights of students under the McKinney-Vento Act are available to school staff, educators, students, and parents.

During the period from October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007, the program served more than 2,000 homeless children. Transportation assistance, help with enrollment issues, and provision of school supplies and clothes were three key requests that were addressed.

Who is considered a homeless child?

A child is considered homeless if he or she is:

  • living (with or without parents) in a homeless or domestic violence shelter;
  • living (with or without parents) in a public or private place not designated as a regular sleeping accommodation, such as a vehicle, park, hotel, campground, etc.;
  • living (with or without parents) with relatives or friends due to lack of housing (“doubled up”);
  • a runaway or a child or youth who has been forced out of the home;
  • a child of a migrant family who lacks adequate housing; or
  • a school-age unwed mother or expectant mother living in houses for unwed mothers when she has no other living accommodations.

Assistance available through the program

  • Help with school enrollment and/or placement
  • Agency referrals for clothing, food, shelter, rent
  • School supplies or fees for field trips, etc.
  • Arrangement of school-related transportation
  • After-school tutor programs at homeless shelters
  • Summer academic programming with local shelters
  • Literature on homeless children
  • Training on the McKinney-Vento Act and increasing public awareness of homelessness
  • Dispute resolution

NOTE: For housing assistance, please  click here for a printable version of the "If you need help" brochure.

Regional Coordinator - 610-987-8509