ECYEH Hosts Lunch & Learn for Community Leaders

Senator Judy Schwank (center) with the presenters and organizers of a Lunch & Learn addressing the issue of youth experiencing homelessness in Berks County
Organizers and speakers from the ECYEH Lunch and Learn are from left to right: Dr. Jill Hackman, BCIU Executive Director; Jennifer Barney, BCIU Site Coordinator for Alternative Education; Elise Chesson, Executive Director of Family Promise of Berks County; Kristen Hoffa, ECYEH Region 2 Coordinator; Senator Judy Schwank; Chrstine Folk, Executive Director of Mary’s Shelter; Tabitha Kramer, Program Specialist for the ECYEH Program; Michelle Reichard-Huff, Director of the Office of Early Childhood and Student Services; and Elizabeth Fortuner, ECYEH Specialist.

On Thursday, October 10, Pennsylvania’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH) Program hosted a lunch and learn focused on the issue of youth homelessness in Berks County. 

The event, held at the Berks County Intermediate Unit, was attended by more than 80 local legislators, businesspeople, school administrators, and non-profit leaders from Berks County. 

Kristen Hoffa, ECYEH Region 2 Coordinator, provided the audience with the latest statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which shows that homelessness affects students across all 18 school districts in Berks County. 

For the 2017-2018 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, Berks County school districts served more than 2,200 students who were considered homeless. That number is up from 1,155 students in the 2013-2014 school year. 

Also speaking at the event were Christine Folk, Executive Director of Mary’s Shelter; Elise Chesson, Executive Director of Family Promise of Berks County; and Tabitha Kramer, Program Specialist for the ECYEH Program. All three shared personal stories that highlighted the work being done on behalf of homeless youth and families. 

The event concluded with calls to action for the attendees to advocate for legislation that supports homeless youth and families and to share what they learned with others.


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