Division of Student Services


Ms. Martha Z. Harris, Administrative Director
Ms. Debra Albo-Steiger, Program Manager
Ms. Carolina Camacho, MSW, Homeless Liaison – South schools
Ms. Ana Knapp, MSW, Homeless Liaison – North schools
Ms. Maira Leon, Community Liaison Specialist
Ms. Herna Bien-Aime, Community Liaison Specialist
Ms. Vicky Checo, Community Liaison Specialist

Program Description

Project UP-START assists schools with the identification, enrollment, and attendance of students in homeless situations.  Each school has a designated School Homeless Liaison to help identify students in transition as well as work with Project UP-START staff on services for the student. Upon enrollment in the Project UP-START, students will automatically receive free lunch. Students can apply for transportation through Project UP-START if they live over two miles from their school. Families or school staff can make an appointment to pick up backpacks and school supplies for students enrolled in the program.  Efforts are made to expedite psycho-educational evaluations for children who may be gifted or who are experiencing academic or behavioral difficulties. Due to the high transiency rate among this student population, many are not diagnosed for learning problems as they move from school to school. Project UP-START also works to increase advocacy on behalf of students through dissemination of information to school-based personnel on homeless issues and available community resources.

Additionally, Project UP-START has an after-school tutorial component that is designed to supplement the learning taking place in select shelter sites.  Activities to promote a healthy sense of self and to strengthen academic competence are part of the tutorial sessions. The parental component brings participants into the tutorial sessions to learn ways to help their children with homework, to read, or to observe the learning taking place. Parental involvement meetings are scheduled on a regular basis to encourage academic success of students.



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