Skip Navigation

Mission Outcomes Goals Partners Contact Us

Kickstand for Special Populations


Provide customizable, competency-based professional development to serve vulnerable populations in every community.


Kickstand is proud to be the chosen platform for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison Credentialing Program and optional Data Collection Tool.

Primary Focus

The McKinney-Vento Liaison Credentialing Program provides competency-based professional development to the school personnel who are responsible for identifying and serving homeless populations in their districts. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 amended the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to increase accountability for school staff working with children and youth experiencing homelessness. While legislation is well intentioned, the added requirements need to be supported by resources for essential learning to maximize the capacity of staff to accomplish the mandated activities in the law.

Program Purpose

The credentialing program creates a learning ecosystem for districts to support the education and success of homeless children and youth, and ultimately aid in breaking the cycle of homelessness.

This series of online courses resolves long-standing capacity issues among McKinney-Vento State Coordinators and District Liaisons by easing and ensuring consistent and aligned professional learning. Increasing knowledge and capacity of liaisons is enhancing effectiveness and building sustainability into state education agency programs aimed at homelessness education. Early outcome data has already shown increased identification of homeless students after the completion of just the beginning-level course.

Program Origins

Due to its unique features, Kickstand evolved into an all-encompassing tool for competency-based learning beyond its initial intended use in the K-12 space. As a collaborative entity, Kickstand is integrated into multiple initiatives, such as the Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) Early Literacy Alert platform to identify and serve struggling readers K-3, as well as contributing to the state’s Open Education Resource repository. Most recently, Kickstand has been the recipient of the Digital Literacy Grant through the MDE for the 2019-2020 school year.

Successful implementation of these initiatives prompted the Michigan McKinney-Vento State Coordinator, Pam Kies-Lowe, to approach Kickstand regarding the need for professional development for Michigan local educational agencies. All essential learning is aligned to the National Center for Homeless Education standards required by the Every Student Succeeds Act for public school district McKinney-Vento Liaisons.

The Homeless Education Credentialing Program has inspired content specialists from around the country to work with Kickstand on similar programs for:

  • Truancy
  • Title I Coordination
  • Foster Care Liaison Credentialing
  • American Bar Association’s Center for Children and Education
  • National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Expected Outcomes

Programmatic Outcomes

  • Increased Liaison Capacity. Homeless education programs and liaisons in districts throughout the country will have access to Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced-Level online professional learning to build their capacity and make them more efficient at identifying affected families and providing appropriate education supports.
  • Increased identification of homeless students, retaining local educational agency funding for students experiencing homelessness.
  • Courses for district auxiliary staff will support the work of liaisons by making the liaison role more visible and effective in districts and communities, thus also reducing turnover.
  • Fewer disputes between homeless families/youth and districts, resulting in fewer complaints and lawsuits.
  • Access to data available to state homeless education coordinators and regional MV grant coordinators on the course learning and performance of their liaisons, allowing for targeted feedback and help.
  • Reporting tools drive data-informed decisions at the district level for determining Title I Set-Asides or other budgeting processes to address the identified needs of students.

Expected Homeless Student Improvements

  • Educational stability of homeless students in schools of origin; fewer placement changes; more consistency in learning environments.
  • Performance by homeless students on state assessments.
  • Better graduation rates and reduced dropout rates for homeless students.
  • Rates of postsecondary education participation by homeless students.
  • Preschool education participation by homeless students.
  • Support of identified needs based on data on homeless students.

Expected Types of Knowledge Products Generated

  • Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced-level courses available online and continually updated to align with current resources, statutes, and best practices in homelessness education.
  • Completed courses for auxiliary school staff and professionals in fields related to homelessness education, including our newest partners in higher education, special education, and child care.
  • Extensive online resource library for homeless education in the Kickstand platform, representing multiple partner organizations.
  • District-specific data, charts, and graphs related to the supports, needs, situations, and outcomes of the homeless students served by each district, region, and state.

Future community improvements for children, youth,
and families experiencing homelessness

  • Increased awareness of homelessness by the general public, as well as the service agency and school staff.
  • Improved efficiency of service delivery.
  • Increased community-wide action toward ending homelessness, especially when student stories and data (charts and graphs) are combined; the message can resonate and spur people to action.

Goals and Strategies

Goal 1

Expand access to competency-based professional development for school personnel responsible for identifying and serving homeless children and youth in all public school districts across the country by 2020. Increased staff training leads to enhanced identification and services for this vulnerable population, as well as improved scholastic outcomes.

Goal 2

Build the capacity of district liaisons to identify and serve all homeless children and youth, particularly the youngest population, in order to provide them with academic, social, and emotional supports and services through their schools, as well as increased access to community resources, thus improving their overall well-being, school attendance and performance, graduation rates, and postsecondary success.

Goal 3

By 2021, integrate the Kickstand McKinney-Vento Liaison Credentialing Project with existing state student data and accompanying National Center for Homeless Education reporting tools to enable district liaisons to analyze and monitor the attendance and academic performance of children and youth experiencing homelessness and to intervene at critical points to prevent academic failure and dropout.

Collaborative Partners

Participating States

  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Tenessee
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming
Map of US showing participating states

Non-Funding Partners

The state coordinator for Michigan, Pam Kies-Lowe, works collaboratively with Kickstand and the following entities to ensure the validity and relevance of course materials.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)
Included workshop sessions at annual membership conferences (2015 - 2018), allowing us to share our vision for this project and garner overwhelming support from McKinney-Vento liaisons who are willing to invest their precious time in professional development because it will ensure they have the tools to do their jobs.
National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)
This federally funded agency provides both professional development and technical support, allowing Kickstand access to their policy briefs and technical assistance webinars, Liaison Toolkits, and state coordinator training resources. NCHE has also been working actively to bring Kickstand’s liaison course to all district Liaisons across the country. They provided access to all McKinney-Vento State Coordinators at annual meetings to help build support and collaborate on resources for this project.
United States Department of Education (USED)
The Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program leadership has guided the project towards key stakeholders to contact for additional information, as well as supporting collaboration with the NCHE professional development materials and webinars.
SchoolHouse Connection
SchoolHouse Connection is a national organization working to overcome homelessness through education, providing strategic advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. This organization provides access to resources, legislative updates, live and recorded webinars, research and data sharing, and offers close consultation with Barbara Duffield, Director and Lead on “Education Leads Home,” an ongoing national campaign to increase graduation rates and postsecondary completion of homeless youth.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP)
The Law Center is the only national legal group dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness. It works to expand access to affordable housing, meet the immediate and long-term needs of those who are homeless or at risk, and strengthen the social safety net through policy advocacy, public education, impact litigation, and advocacy training and support. NLCHP provides valuable open source materials to enhance McKinney-Vento courses, as well as collaboration on training for public school district legal councils. Note the attached letter from Michael Santos, Education Attorney.
American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and Education
The Center ensures those who work on children’s laws throughout the country have resources and support to do their jobs at the highest level. They have provided consultation from Director Kathleen McNaught, support for training of foster care liaisons (now required by USED in all public school districts), valuable open source resources available to enhance MV courses, liaison toolkits, publications, reports, resources (mainly related to education of youth in foster care), and content development for courses for LEA foster-care liaisons and child welfare staff.
Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP)
The MLPP is a nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way and analyzes the impact of state and federal budgets and policies on residents with low incomes. All of the league’s work is done through a racial equity lens. MLPP has provided valuable open-source resources to enhance MV courses, access to data analysis reports and resources, the annual Michigan and National Kids Count Data Report, Budget Briefs, shared development of Issue Briefs, and collaboration on the Michigan Trauma-Informed Services Initiative, as well as advocacy for low-income families, informative blogs, geographical fact sheets, and reports from a racial equity lens. The League advocates for policies and investments that can improve equity for all Michigan children and families regardless of race, ethnicity or geography. As a lens for all of its work, the League documents systemic barriers to good health and economic opportunity faced by people of color, and recommends policy solutions.
Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan has a proud tradition of groundbreaking research and teaching on poverty and inequality, and a growing network of top experts in the field. University researchers have made pivotal contributions to knowledge and policymaking in the field of poverty dating back to the 1950s. Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan takes this legacy to the next level by informing and testing innovative solutions for the prevention and alleviation of poverty. Poverty Solutions seeks to leverage the immense intellectual assets and academic scope of the university to make a major impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

Special Populations Advisory Board


{{advisor.Position}} {{advisor.Location}}



We're excited to work with Kickstand on this project, which will greatly improve the lives of homeless and at-risk youth communities we serve.

Maria Foscarinis., Founder & Executive Director of NLCHP

Ready to learn more? Contact Us To Get Started