Project Act Struggles to Deliver Education to All

by Ayme McCain

The Cleveland Public School Project Act (Action for Children and Youth in Transition) is using a comprehensive, holistic approach to ensure the educational success of homeless children in transition. Project ACT provides the direct instructional and support services needed to facilitate the homeless child’s transition into school and their ongoing participation in the educational system. One of the main goals of Project ACT is to make sure that every school-aged child is registered for and attending school. August 28 marks the first day of school and Project ACT wants to remind parents that if their child is not registered for school they should make this their priority. To register their child for school, parents will need their child’s birth certificate and immunization records. Project ACT is prepared to help parents obtain the necessary records.

Project ACT also has programming for Early Childhood, School Age, and Adolescent children and youth. These programs operate out of emergency and domestic violence shelters, a public library, and several Cleveland Public School buildings. The programs operating at these sites include homework assistance, tutoring, and educational enrichment provided by Cleveland Public School teachers. Project ACT Early-Child teachers also help in the identification and referral of special needs children for early childhood screening and intervention services.

In addition to the teachers, Project ACT also has a social worker who works directly in the shelters helping parents obtain and maintain all of their child’s important records. The parents are provided with a “Family Facts Book” that consolidates the documentation of the child’s immunization records, birth certificate, social security number, and other important family information, complete with a Polaroid picture of the child (birth-grade 6). This book enables the parent to maintain the child’s records in an organized folder.

In order for any child to do well in school he/she has to have the necessary supplies to complete his/her work. Project ACT is able to provide homeless students with the tools they need to be successful in school. Some of these items include book bags, school supplies, and books. In conjunction with Reading is Fundamental, Project ACT has also been able to establish libraries within the homeless and domestic violence shelters.

“We have high standards for our children and we want them to succeed,” says Marcia G. Zashin, coordinator of Project ACT. “We want to have all of the barriers that are keeping homeless children from attending school removed, and we want to provide all of the necessary items they need to be successful in school. This can only happen if the teachers, parents, and shelters work together, keeping the best interest of the child in mind.”

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #17, August-September 1996