Mayor Bill de Blasio announced five new multi-agency anti-poverty initiatives, including a new program that builds on the work of Gateway Housing’s Improving School Attendance for Homeless Children (ISAHC) pilot.

Led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, the new city program will consolidate and streamline access to attendance data and other information to help improve school attendance for homeless children living in 25 shelters. Designed by the Department of Education (DOE) Office of Community Schools and New Visions for Public Schools, the innovative database system will allow shelter staff to use up-to-the-minute data to better coordinate efforts to improve school transportation and identify homeless children who are having trouble going to school on a regular basis.

In designing DOE’s new database, New Visions spent time with Gateway’s ISAHC teams to better understand the training needs of shelter and DOE staff, and to see how the ISAHC program uses data and interagency coordination to improve school attendance.

Designed by Dr. Judith Samuels, the ISAHC model employs a team approach that brings together DOE and shelter provider staff, including new social workers funded by the ThriveNYC initiative. The ISAHC team meets together weekly, to review current data, check progress and employ evidence-based practices to work with families to address social and logistical barriers to school attendance.

After one school year of operation, ISAHC is already achieving results. Funded by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust, the ISAHC program is now operating in five shelters operated by BronxWorks, Win and HELP USA. All five shelters will be included in the new city initiative. The pilot is being tracked and tested by Drs. Jay Bainbridge and Dan Treglia, and the City of New York’s Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence (CIDI).

“Gateway’s ISAHC program shows how better coordination between schools and shelters through shared data can help us improve homeless children’s school attendance.  We’re building on what we’ve learned with our colleagues at ISAHC, DHS and our participating schools,” said Mike Hickey, the Executive Director of Students in Temporary Housing at the Department of Education.

“We’re excited by the opportunity afforded by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to add to what we have learned through ISAHC,” said Doreen Thomann-Howe, Interim Deputy Commissioner for Family Services at DHS, “we’re hoping to see a positive impact on school attendance.”

Gateway Housing is excited to see the work of the ISAHC initiative expanded and complemented by the new city initiative. We look forward to further collaboration with DHS and DOE in the essential work of getting homeless kids to school.

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