Homeless or at-risk youth are most likely to be first identified through local schools and The McKinney Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001 was enacted to help homeless or at-risk children and youth coming into contact with public schools. It is officially accepted that a homeless or at-risk youth is 87% more likely to drop out of school and become a statistic of failure.
Under the McKinney-Vento Act homeless or at-risk youth:
Have a right to education.
Benefit from support & grants including free meals, transport, necessary school equipment, and books.
And School Districts MUST designate a Homeless Liaison person.
Reported statistics are accepted to be less than the reality but even these figures are staggering.
In the 2013–14 school year US public schools identified 1.3 million students who benefited from McKinney-Vento.
This was a 7% increase nationally over previous year and 100% increase since 2007.
13% of all poor, school-age children and youth and 30% of all extremely poor, school-age children and youth, now fall within the definitions and coverage of McKinney-Vento
What McKinney-Vento does not do is to make school districts responsible for the provision of safe accommodation to homeless or at-risk youth.
Some enterprising, larger, urban school districts saw the need and founded highly successful Host Home Programs. Host Homes Programs have been in use for many years for international student exchange or short term housing for musicians or actors. Host Homes for homeless youth is just an extension to that thinking and more like foster care without the layers of regulation and licensing. It was urban school districts who first used Host Homes but they have become just as effective in rural school districts.
Under a Host Home Program members of the community offer room and board in their home to a homeless or at-risk youth. Provided the host and the home are security screened before a student is housed, the youth would be safe, fed, and mentored at a fraction of the cost of traditional transitional living programs.
The Lifeboat Foundation Board believe that if it became part of a local Homeless and At-Risk Youth Network Initiative for Rhinelander it could provide the support and organization for a Host Home Program. As of December 2016 the Foundation accepted the proposal that a Host Home Program would become its response to homeless and at-risk youth in the Rhinelander school district with the aim or setting up further Host Home programs throughout the northwoods of Wisconsin.