How we can help with the post-winter break increase in student transportation needs

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.

Students experiencing homelessness or living in foster care, for example, may spend their winter break not knowing whether they’ll be able to continue attending the same school, or whether they'll see their favorite teachers or friends again in the new year. Losing these connections during the second half of the school year is a particularly devastating thought for these students, who may have worked hard to build these relationships.

The good news is that the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is designed to provide assistance and other support to youth living in foster care or experiencing homelessness. Through this federal legislation, these students are guaranteed reliable, safe transportation to their school of origin or school of choice.

Unexpected changes come with an increase in student transportation needs

With the surge in student identification or classification shifts that often occurs mid-year, there’s an equal surge in new transportation and routing needs for schools and districts. New riders and students who suddenly relocate out of district can throw a wrench into existing routing plans. With no lead time, it’s challenging to build or change routes quickly, and it makes no sense to send a bus for just a few students.

The McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll students experiencing homelessness immediately, even without the documents that are typically required for enrollment. These students must be able to attend classes and participate fully in school activities without delay, which often means schools are left scrambling for a same-day or next-day transportation solution.

A flexible solution

HopSkipDrive’s solution provides much-needed flexibility, connecting districts with a marketplace of on-demand, highly vetted CareDrivers. Our nimble model enables us to respond quickly to the needs of highly mobile youth.

It’s possible that a student experiencing homelessness will be moved to a new home 40 miles away and will need a ride the next morning to the same school. We’re able to arrange a ride within a few hours when a child moves placements abruptly. HopSkipDrive rides can be scheduled with as little as 8 hours’ notice to make sure the student arrives at their assigned school on time. If it’s a previously scheduled ride, we can accommodate location changes within 2 hours’ notice.

This is the only way to serve the needs of this group of students — and no other model can do it.

A tried and tested solution

HopSkipDrive's innovative model was tested and proven with a pilot program with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services. We enabled next-day service for youth in need of immediate transportation, helping to ensure there were 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.

Our solution contributes to a sense of stability for students who are living in foster care or experiencing homelessness, giving them a chance to reap the benefits of relationships with friends and teachers — which has been proven to boost confidence and classroom performance. It also increases their ability to attend classes and graduate on time.

A customizable solution

HopSkipDrive partners with many schools, counties, and districts to transport McKinney-Vento students, students in foster care, and students with IEPs.

Unlike other transportation solutions, HopSkipDrive can be customized to fit a student’s unique schedule. Students can arrive early to catch up on coursework or participate in extracurricular programs the district provides.

“I’m so thankful for HopSkipDrive. 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. If I didn’t get to school early, I wouldn’t be close to that.”

—Rashad S., a 16-year-old high school junior living in foster care who uses HopSkipDrive to get to his school of origin each day

HopSkipDrive can also help set up routes for students who may live outside standard bus routes or who be unable to take the bus because of specific physical or social needs.

A ride to school with HopSkipDrive means 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 spending hours on a bus.

Says Leigh Cook, Director of Federal Programs & Academic Compliance at Keller Independent School District: “Not only does HopSkipDrive help to reduce the district’s overall transportation costs, but offering this service to students with specialized transportation needs also helps to shorten commute times — which means less time in transit and more time learning.”

Need more information about how we can help to fulfill immediate transportation needs for youth in foster care and students experiencing homelessness who are designated for McKinney-Vento transportation?


Interested in learning more about HopSkipDrive’s non-routine student transportation solution?

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