News Release

SBC Office of Education provides resources to homeless youth

Students identified under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act receive 200 Safeway gift cards and duffel bags.

Information provided by San Benito County Office of Education


The San Benito County Office of Education announced it gave away 200 Safeway gift cards and duffel bags to students who are identified under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The Office of Education said it did it in recognition and support of National Homelessness Awareness month.

The release said the items were distributed to students attending Aromas-San Juan School Unified District, Hollister School District, San Benito High School District and Southside Elementary School District. It added students who are part of the Migrant Education Program at San Andreas Continuation School were also provided with gift cards.

“The Safeway gift cards were donated by the Community Food Bank who has been making a difference in the lives of our at-promise youth through SBCOE outreach events,” the release said.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act ensures that children who are considered homeless or in-transition have the same educational rights and protection as all other school children.

“The term homeless children and youth means ‘individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,'” the release said. “In San Benito County, there are an estimated 350 homeless children and youth who are identified by school districts.”

The release said the San Benito County Office of Education (SBCOE) provides support and resources to the 11 school districts in the county and the SBCOE Alternative Education Programs to implement McKinney-Vento. Technical assistance and training are available to the district homeless liaisons and other staff who are involved in working with homeless children and youth.

“For young people experiencing homelessness, access to basic needs and food during this time of the year has been challenging,” said Gwen Baquiran, SBCOE director of student services and foster/homeless county lead. “Our goal is to continue this outreach to support all our at-promise youth including migrant students, foster youth and students experiencing homelessness with the help of community partners and donors.”

San Benito students in foster care received school backpacks during SBCOE’s Back To School Resource Fair in August and My Stuff® Duffel bags this holiday, according to the release. It added the My Stuff® Bags Foundation has donated 180 duffel bags to San Benito students who are in foster care, experiencing homelessness or are migrant.  My Stuff® Bags are individual, mid-sized duffels filled with age and gender appropriate, brand-new necessities such as clothing, school supplies and toiletries and comforts including toys, books, a stuffed animal, and a blanket, often handmade. The bags offer necessities and comfort items to students in crisis or in transition.

The release said County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto is very grateful to the Community Food Bank and My Stuff® Bag Organization for their generosity and partnership.

“Partnerships like these bring the entire community together to support the education and wellbeing of the students and families in San Benito County, fulfilling some of the unmet needs of these students’ families,” the release said. “It takes the entire community to raise our students.”

Additionally, SBCOE rolled out Project Access this school year.  This project is intended to give students in foster care or those experiencing homelessness access to additional services and supports to help remove educational barriers.

“Services include access to academic support such as after school tutorial and summer enrichment activities, access to temporary hotel accommodations, access to health/safe care and training for school staff and parents to heighten the understanding of students’ challenges and identify and remove barriers to education,” the release said.

More information about Project Access can be found at the Office of Education website or by contacting SBCOE Education Services Department.

BenitoLink Staff