A New Online Resource: Youth Rights and Resources Toolkit


Wendy Kohn is the Marketing & Development Director at Partnership for Strong Communities

Youth homelessness continues to present significant challenges to service providers and school districts, with homeless or unstably-housed youth at much higher risk than housed youth for many negative outcomes to their physical and mental health and their overall life trajectory. Because schools are one of the largest institutions that serve these youth, their involvement is critical in the process of establishing better means to address youth homelessness. 

With funding from the Connecticut State Department of Education, several non-profit organizations came together to launch the Youth Rights and Resources Toolkit for Connecticut youth in unstable housing situations. The Connecticut Coalition to End HomelessnessInstitute for Community ResearchCenter for Children’s Advocacy, and the Partnership for Strong Communities created the Youth Toolkit to provide online resources that raise awareness of youth housing instability, laws that protect youth rights, and the available resources for unstably housed youth in Connecticut.  

As professional documentary filmmakers, Heather Mosher of the Institute for Community Research and I co-directed/produced a portion of the Youth Toolkit that includes three short PSA-style videos for youth and school professionals on youth rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.  The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires that all school districts provide children and youth experiencing housing instability access to a public education and assistance to ensure success in school. The videos are intended as tools to educate youth, front-line school staff, and community partners about youth rights under the McKinney-Vento Act and provide them with steps so that youth rights are upheld. 

The videos were created as scripted scenarios with youth actors and narrators, with youth input in the script-writing. They include:

The story of Jasmine, an unstably housed high school student trying to stay in school, illustrating a variety of unstable housing scenarios that are eligible for McKinney-Vento school benefits: 

Here is the link if you are having difficulty viewing the video. https://youtu.be/u2jUCXwRNFc

The story of John, a high school student who was kicked out of his home and is now staying in another town, illustrating the right for a youth to choose the school to attend under McKinney-Vento law:

Here is the link if you are having difficulty viewing the video. https://youtu.be/w9eV-lRHizY

The story of Isabelle, who wants to attend high school but doesn’t have ID or parental consent, illustrating the right for a youth to enroll in school immediately under McKinney-Vento law:

Here is the link if you are having difficulty viewing the video. https://youtu.be/zPsQA0mg6MM

The completed Toolkit can be found at www.youth-help.org and includes a variety of resources:

  • Three short films (each ~ 3 minutes long with accompanying discussion guides)
  • Statistics on youth housing instability in Connecticut
  • Maps of resources and services available for youth ages 14-24 in the state
  • Useful links to obtain legal help, information and resources for youth
  • Up-to-date information on resources and efforts to end youth homelessness

Please share the toolkit with your networks to help spread the word about this vital resource. This toolkit will be updated on a continuing basis as more information is released. 

Click here to read previous blog posts. 


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