How we can help with the post-Winter Break increase in student transportation needs
Written by Aylin Cook
Gearing up for winter break typically means relaxation and time away. For some students, however, it’s a time of rapid and unsettling change. Their housing situation may change or become less stable over what should be a joyous season.
They spend their breaks not knowing whether they’ll be able to continue attending the same school, see their favorite teachers or friends again. It’s a particularly devastating thought because these students will be entering their second semester, having built those relationships in their first.
The good news is that the McKinney-Vento act is designed to provide assistance and other support to youth in foster care or experiencing homelessnes. Through the act, they’re guaranteed reliable, safe transportation to their school of origin, or school of choice.
The challenges come with an increase in transportation needs
The challenge is that with the surge in student identification or classification shifts, there’s an equal surge in new transportation and routing needs. These new riders and changes can throw a wrench into your existing routing. With no lead time, it’s unrealistic to build new routes overnight, or to send a bus for just a few children.
And the McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll students experiencing homelessness immediately, even without documents typically required for enrollment. The student must begin attending classes and participating fully in school activities without delay, meaning the same or following day.
Flexibility is key to effectively handle an influx of transportation needs.
HopSkipDrive’s solution provides that flexibility, connecting districts with a marketplace of vetted drivers. An influx in demand can be met by the on-demand driver supply.
Additionally, our client success team can step in and build new routes efficiently and quickly. In many cases, we’ve built rides which start the next day. Student have access to safe, reliable transportation within 24 hours.
This was tested and proven during our Foster Youth Stability pilot with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services. We enabled next-day service for youths in need of immediate transportation, ensuring no gaps in their school attendance.
Reports on this pilot noted that HopSkipDrive quickly adjusted to meet the needs of the county and school districts. We designed and implemented a system that created better visibility for transportation organizers, caregivers, social workers, and other emergency contacts. And we’ve moved from the pilot stage to a long-term transportation solution.
This allows students a chance to reap the benefits of relationships with friends and teachers, which has been proven to boost student’s confidence and classroom performance. It also increases their ability to attend classes and graduate on time.
Our flexibility doesn’t stop at building out new routes.
HopSkipDrive partners with many schools, counties, and districts to transport McKinney-Vento students, students in foster care, and students on IEPs.
Unlike other transportation solutions, HopSkipDrive can be customized to the student’s unique schedule if need be. Students can arrive early to catch up on coursework or participate in meal programs if the district provides them.
“I’m so thankful for [HopSkipDrive],” said Rashad S., a 16-year-old high school junior. Rashad is in foster care and uses HopSkipDrive to get to his school of origin each day. “You give me a ride to and from school and without you, my high school year would be a lot harder. I have a 4.0 GPA and all A+’s my junior year. If I didn’t get to school early, I wouldn’t be close.”
HopSkipDrive can also help set up routes for those who may be outside standard bus service or unable to take the bus because of specific physical or social needs. And a ride to school can mean students — even those in a time of serious flux — arrive refreshed and ready to learn, not exhausted from anxiously trying to figure out public transit in an unfamiliar area or coming from hours on the bus.
Leigh Cook, Director of Federal Programs & Academic Compliance at Keller Independent School District, said, “Not only does [HopSkipDrive] help to reduce the district’s overall transportation costs, but offering this service to students with specialized transportation needs helps to shorten commute times – meaning less time in transit and more time learning.”
Need more information about how we can accommodate shifts in transportation needs for youth in foster care and McKinney-Vento?
Learn more or get a free quote here.