McKinney-Vento liaison Amanda Clark, center, updates the RSU 9 board of directors Tuesday, Nov. 28, on the number of students in the district experiencing homelessness. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Amanda Clark, social worker for Cape Cod Hill School and McKinney-Vento liaison, appeared before the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors at the meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to provide an update on the number of students registered with the McKinney-Vento program. Students registered with the McKinney-Vento program are experiencing homelessness in some form.

Currently, 38 students are registered with the program as of the Tuesday meeting. 36 were originally written in her report, but Clark updated the number to 38 at the meeting after registering two additional students to the program that same day.

Of the 38 students, 23 fall within pre-k to fifth grade, four students are within sixth to eighth grade, and nine students are at the high school level. Ten of these students are listed as unaccompanied minors. Director Will Jones of Farmington asked Clark to explain what exactly ‘unaccompanied’ meant in her report.

“It’s concerning to me,” he stated.

“That means that they are not with their parents,” Clark responded. “So, an example of that may be the parents were having financial troubles, and were not able to take care of them or house them financially, so maybe they sent them to an aunt’s house.”

She added, “Another scenario may be a high school student who has chosen to leave home and is staying with a friend.”


Director Scott Erb of Farmington asked if the number of identified high school students were potentially misrepresented. “Do you think some of the older students are less likely to identify or be more likely to hide their situation?” he asked.

“Yes,” Clark stated. “I do think there are definitely students [unidentified] and this number is much bigger than what we have identified. That can be for various reasons, such as not wanting to identify, which families have that choice.”

Clark also added that school staff building connections with the students will help better identify if they are experiencing homelessness and it has been her top priority since she took over the position.

She stated, “One of my top priorities is getting all the kiddos that identified right at the beginning of school with back to school paperwork, getting them classified, reached out to, get any resources in place, and look to see who are we missing.”

Director Rich Ruhlin agreed with the assessment, adding to it, “I guarantee that number is way under reported. It’s seen as social stigma. You’ve got teenagers that are what we would think of as couch surfing. It is not couch surfing. Its not great. We have kids living in tents in Farmington.”

He continued, “Fortunately we have outreach organizations that do go out on the daily to try to encourage them to reach out for support and to register because it’s really important.”


The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which has been in effect since 1987, ensures that state educational agencies provide free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, to homeless youth or children of a homeless individual.

McKinney-Vento defines homelessness as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and that includes children and youths who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters, or camping grounds, are sleeping in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping, are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings, and migratory children.

Clark did share a good news story, wherein Central Maine Power partnered with RSU 9 to restore power to a family of five in the district and set up a long term plan to make sure they don’t go without power anymore.

“It was amazing,” Clark stated. “Big shout out to CMP. I worked with some amazing people over the phone that were able to listen to me, hear the situation, say ‘I will work on this and get back to you.'”

She continued, “Within 48 hours, I had a CMP advocate reach out and say ‘we’ve looked into the situation, we have put them on a plan and their power is back on’, and that was without a dime of McKinney-Vento money having to be spent. We did have some funds available that we could have helped with that, and CMP was so gracious.”

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