Jade Chamness, McKinney-Vento Liaison at South Lane School District. She has been working with over 270 students who have been identified as meeting the McKinney-Vento definition of homeless.

South Lane School District’s McKinney-Vento Liaison Jade Chamness has been working with the Cottage Grove community to help the district’s homeless students during COVID-19.

The program has helped facilitate the funding of more than $25,000 toward an emergency grocery gift card campaign thanks to 62 individuals and organized a distribution center with the help of the Rural Organizing Project, Grocery Outlet, Looking Glass and United Way. 

“It’s unbelievable the way the community has stepped in,” Chamness said. “It’s been really exciting to see the way the community has stepped up to help students and families.” 

The McKinney-Vento program is based on the assistance act of the same name, which helps students access services and resources to help students stay in school. Some students are homeless with their families and some are unaccompanied. 

“We try to remove barriers,” Chamness explained. 

Every U.S. School district has a liaison and each person does the job a little bit differently. SLSD has over 270 students this school year identified as meeting the McKinney-Vento definition for homelessness; a number that has increased over the past two years by 200% due to more hours going into the roll and the district becoming more efficient at identifying students. 

Although every liaison is facing COVID-19 in a different way, Chamness has prioritized working with the community. The McKinney-Vento program works closely with Looking Glass, which helps hand out grocery gift cards to students and provides care, education about COVID-19 and essential case management support.

The community can get involved by donating to the GoFundMe or purchase a grocery bag filled with basic-needs items at Grocery Outlet.