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McKinney-Vento to IEP transportation: How our solution can help

School transportation immediately brings to mind the big yellow school bus but, due to varying circumstances some students need an alternative school transportation option, one which supplements traditional school bus transportation.

HopSkipDrive partners with many schools, districts, and government agencies to provide transportation for kids with non-routine transportation needs, helping all students access educational opportunities.

Below, we outline alternative school transportation needs our transportation solution helps solve, and discuss how we partner with educational organizations to do so.

HopSkipDrive helps enable:

  1. Transportation for students experiencing homelessness (under McKinney-Vento designation)

  2. School of origin transportation for youth in foster care

  3. Transportation for students with individualized education plans (IEPs)

  4. Transportation for students with continuing technical education programs (CTEs)

  5. Transportation for nonprofits working with youth

  6. Transportation for students with special needs

  7. Transportation for field trips

  8. Transportation for students in internships or work study programs

McKinney-Vento Transportation

In 1987, the McKinney-Vento Act was passed to provide assistance and support to homeless families. Part of the act’s intent is to ensure youth experiencing homelessness can attend school or remain in their school of origin without a permanent residence.

Seasonality to number of McKinney-Vento students

Every August, school transportation directors receive a list of McKinney-Vento students, but students can be added to or removed from this list throughout the year as their circumstances change. There’s also a seasonality to McKinney-Vento; for instance, the number of youth experiencing homelessness tends to increase over winter break.

Natural disasters also impact this population. For example, students in Southern California may be evacuated from their homes and thus, not able to take their normal bus route to school.

While many McKinney-Vento students can be added to existing bus routes, HopSkipDrive partners with school districts to provide a cost-effective, safe and efficient alternative student transportation solution for students who move outside of those bus routes.

HopSkipDrive works with districts to plan and iterate routes for students under McKinney-Vento. HopSkipDrive’s technology and Safe Ride Support team provide visibility for transportation coordinators.

Reducing chronic absenteeism through transportation

Chronic absenteeism among McKinney-Vento populations — often due to lack of transportation — puts students at a huge disadvantage.

Chronic absences can have a serious impact on a student’s graduation prospects and overall educational outcomes. Students who miss fewer than five five days in the first month of the school year may go on to miss as much as a month of school over the course of the year. This can impact classroom performance and result in them falling far behind their peers.

Blame for chronic absences used to be placed on parents or students themselves. It can be treated as the family’s problem to get their child to school, but in many cases, this is simply not possible for them to do without great personal or financial sacrifices.

HopSkipDrive’s alternative school transportation solution helps families and schools get kids to school and other activities, and ensure they have access to needed services. Reliable and responsive CareDrivers provide another benefit: a consistent experience, important for students whose lives are in a state of flux.

Transportation for Youth in Foster Care

About 500,000 children nationwide are in foster care, and statistics show that by the time youth in foster care reach their junior year, around one-third will have changed schools an average of five times. Each time this population changes schools, they lose four to six months of academic progress, one of the factors contributing to a 50% graduation rate for youth in foster care.

Fortunately, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) dictates that counties and districts work together to ensure youth in foster care receive transportation to their school of origin, or the school they were enrolled in when they were removed from their home. Staying at the same school is incredibly beneficial on these students’ emotional well-being and academic success.

Behind the scenes, counties and districts share the responsibility of getting students to and from their school of origin, even when the student has moved to a new home outside of normal bus routes. Transportation must be provided immediately, so an unexpected move can mean a student must have a way to school the very next day.

That’s where HopSkipDrive comes in — we can build out routes with only eight hours notice.

The Los Angeles Foster Youth School Stability pilot

Starting with a two-year pilot program with the Los Angeles County of Education and Department of Child and Family Services (the largest foster care system in the United States), HopSkipDrive provides an alternative school transportation solution for many youth under this mandate.

Our work with the Los Angeles Foster Youth School Stability pilot showed that our solution is cost-effective and scalable. Our team can be responsive, shifting routes when a student moves to another home or is reunited with their family. While bus routes or other transportation may take weeks to build out, the flexibility of our solution allows for next day transportation, regardless of distance to school.

Our service is also hands-on: A dedicated Client Success Manager works with districts and county social workers to schedule and create rides, ensuring every student is delivered safely and on time.

“The transportation needs of foster youth can change frequently and HopSkipDrive has consistently helped to meet those needs,” said LA County education specialist Tina Garcia. “[for foster kids] … being able to continue attending their school of origin is often the most stability they have in their lives and that would have been impossible for many of them without HopSkipDrive.”

HopSkipDrive now helps transport foster youth in multiple states and counties, including Arapahoe County in Colorado.

“HopSkipDrive has fulfilled every ride we’ve ever requested and is always reachable and super-responsive,” said Kala Slater, Arapahoe County’s Office Support Supervisor. “Couple that level of service with the stability that HopSkipDrive gives back to youth in foster care and the result is something truly special.”

Georgina’s story

Georgina, a student in foster care, used HopSkipDrive to get to school early and stay late so she could graduate on time.

“Since my freshman year I’ve been to four high schools,” she said. “The changes made it hard for me to trust and make those connections … when I moved foster placements I was able to stay at my school of origin thanks to HopSkipDrive.”

Georgina was able to arrive early and stay late in order to make up coursework, and graduated on time and with honors.

“All the drivers are super friendly and it’s always been a really positive experience. I was able to gain more stability, make more friends, be the old me and be happy, smiling and excited to go to school. HopSkipDrive definitely made a positive impact in my life in that way that I was able to keep my school of origin and finish high school there on time, with honors, principal’s award and citizenship award. I worked very hard.”

CareDriver Mishelle Sharp is a former social worker who hopes to become a foster parent in the future. She seeks out rides with foster youth because she likes getting to know their stories.

“I want to help support their current lives, even if it’s just helping them get to a school they attended before they moved to a new foster home,” Sharp said. “ I am touched that HopSkipDrive has partnered with the Department of Child and Family Services  to support this cause.”

Students with Special Needs or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Many students with special needs attend mainstream schools with additional classes or resources to help them thrive; these Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), they may necessitate a non-routine schedule.  If the IEP includes a transportation requirement, districts are also responsible for providing transportation for students with Individualized Education Plans.

Some students with special needs with may also be unable to ride the bus due to unique physical or behavioral needs. They may benefit from accommodations or alternate transportation. For students, taking a ride with a CareDriver is a calming and welcome alternative to crowded public transit or a traditional school bus.

HopSkipDrive provides an alternative school transportation solution customized for each unique schedule and child’s needs. Beyond the flexibility of our model, we provide CareDrivers with educational resources which give them the necessary background to work with riders with special needs. Rider profile notes ensure CareDrivers know how to approach each specific child.

HopSkipDrive provides specialized support for staff working with IEPs, helping to build out rides and ensuring each student’s needs are reflected in their profile.

Our Safe Ride Support team watches every ride in real-time and can respond immediately to any situation that arises, while our Community Experience teams are also available to assist district representatives and parents with any questions they may have.

Parents can be linked to their child’s profile so they can monitor rides in real-time, and representatives can help cancel or answer questions about their child’s schedule.

Littleton Public Schools & HopSkipDrive

Littleton Public Schools serves 15,000 students, including many with Individual Education Plans. The district once used a van service to transport kids to their alternative campus, but found that service unreliable and costly.

“HopSkipDrive is not only 60% less expensive than our previous solution, but far more reliable,” said Mike Hush, director of transportation for the district. “We had worked with HopSkipDrive for only a few weeks before we quadrupled the number of students riding with CareDrivers, and we’ll continue to expand district ridership with them.”

Career & Technical Education

Many schools offer career and technical education training, an alternative to higher education. This can be a direct path to a career they’re interested in starting immediately, or an alternative to the cost of higher education. For many, it allows them to skip the college debt and start earning money right away, which is one reason it’s become increasingly popular.

One of the barriers in CTE programs, particularly for lower income or at-risk youth, is transportation. Many of the job or job training opportunities are off-site or after school. If students miss work due to lack of transportation, they could lose their job.

Centinela Valley Union High School & HopSkipDrive

Schools like Centinela Valley Union High School District use HopSkipDrive to enable transportation for students to and from CTE job opportunities.

“It’s definitely really convenient to be able to have your students driven to a job safely and on time,” said Sean Hiller, MCA Coordinator at Leuzinger High School in the Centinela Valley district. “Anybody trying to get kids to get experience in the community, I think it’s the only way to go.”

Hiller used to drive his students to and from their jobs, but that’s not always possible. HopSkipDrive drive has enabled students like OD and Azul to obtain and keep important internship opportunities.

Azul credits HopSkipDrive with bringing him to his internship with BLE Sparks, and OD appreciates the opportunities transportation access provides.

“HopSkipDrive has given students like me a sense of assurance in their transportation needs,” said OD, “It’s allowed me to really spread my wings in a way.”

HopSkipDrive is working with other organizations, and hopes to repeat the success with other districts, charter schools, and vocational schools so students can take advantage of these opportunities.

Transportation for Nonprofits

Many non-profit organizations provide resources for kids and teens that greatly enrich their lives. However, transportation can be a definite barrier to access for many families who would like to use the services.

For example, a parent may want their child to take advantage of after-school programs at the Boys and Girls Club, but they have no way to get them there after school. That’s where HopSkipDrive comes in. We partner with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Getty and more to provide access to education enrichment opportunities.

Many of these organizations use HopSkipDrive to provide a safe, reliable transportation solution for students, so they can take part internships, enrichment programs, and other activities.

If you are a school, district or organization who would like to work with us, please visit our schools page for more information or request a quote.


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