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Educating Children and Youth in Homeless Situations: Laws, Policies, and How They Work in Real Life


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Title: Educating Children and Youth in Homeless Situations: Laws, Policies, and How They Work in Real Life

Educating Children and Youth in Homeless
SituationsLaws, Policies, and How They Work in
Real Life
  • National Association for the Education of
    Homeless Children and Youth
  • 22nd Annual Conference
  • November 2010
  • Houston, TX

Our Agenda
  • Background and context
  • Liaisons
  • Identification
  • School stability, including transportation
  • School enrollment
  • School success
  • Focus on Title I, Part A
  • Focus on unaccompanied youth
  • Focus on young children

Causes of Homelessness
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Foreclosures
  • Poverty
  • Economic recession
  • Unemployment
  • Health problems
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Addiction disorders
  • Mental health
  • Domestic violence
  • Natural and other disasters
  • Abuse/neglect (unaccompanied youth)

Stories and Statistics
A new multisite study by UCLA and RAND Corp.
researchers and colleagues has found that 7
percent of fifth-graders and their families have
experienced homelessness at some point in their
lives and that the occurrence is even higher 11
percent for African American children and those
from the poorest households. Am. J. Pub. Health,
Diego Sepulveda, a 22-year-old political science
major, is the first in his family to attend
college. His full-time Subway job wasnt quite
cutting it, and then he lost that job. Sepulveda
would rotate a night at the library, the next
two nights on friends couches. His other
part-time home was the Student Activities Center,
where theres a pool, a locker room, and
showers. I would shower, and it would give me at
least some sense of being clean, he says. NPR,
Parents are losing their jobs, their homes and
their vehicles, but they don't want their
children to lose out on an education. Desiree
Vigil is one Denver parent trying to make sure
her kids get to school, even though the family
doesn't know where they will sleep at night. "It
kills me inside. It hurts because I feel like I'm
not providing for my kids the way I should be,"
Vigil said. FOX News Denver, 5/20/10
Nearly 1 million homeless students attended
public schools in 2008-09, a 41 increase over
the previous two years and another sign of how
broadly the economic recession has struck
America. USA Today, 7/31/10
How many children and youth experience
  • 10 of all children living in poverty over the
    course of a year.
  • 1.6-1.7 million youth run away each year.
  • 51 of all children in HUD-funded shelters are
    under the age of 6.
  • Nationwide, 956,914 homeless students identified
    by public schools in the 2008-09 school year 41
    increase over previous 2 years.

Barriers to Education forHomeless Children and
  • Enrollment requirements (school records, health
    records, proof of residence and guardianship)
  • High mobility resulting in lack of school
    stability and educational continuity
  • Lack of awareness under-identification
  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc.
  • Poor health, fatigue, hunger
  • Prejudice and misunderstanding

Importance of Education
  • For almost all of my life, I have never had a
    place to call home. I have questioned why I have
    to struggle so hard to succeed while others do
    not have to question whether they will go to
  • However, there is one thing I have never
    questioned My education.
  • Khadijah Williams, Harvard University Class of

McKinney-VentoHomeless Assistance Act
  • Reauthorized 2002 by NCLB
  • Main themes
  • School stability
  • School access
  • Support for academic success
  • Child-centered, best interest decision making

Local HomelessEducation Liaisons
  • Every LEA must designate a liaison for students
    in homeless situations.
  • Responsibilities-
  • Ensure that children and youth in homeless
    situations are identified.
  • Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have
    full and equal opportunity to succeed in school.
  • Link with educational services, including
    preschool and health services.
  • Resolve disputes and assist with transportation.

EligibilityWho is Covered?
  • Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate
    nighttime residence
  • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of
    housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
  • 66 of identified homeless students in
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping
    grounds due to lack of adequate alternative
  • Motels 6 of identified homeless students in

Eligibility Who is Covered?
  • Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate
    nighttime residence
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters
  • 23 of identified homeless students in 2008-09
  • Living in a public or private place not designed
    for humans to live
  • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings,
    substandard housing, bus or train stations, or
    similar settings
  • Migratory children living in above circumstances
  • Awaiting foster care placement

McKinney-Vento Definition Why So Broad?
  • Shelters are often full shelters may turn
    families and youth away, or put them on waiting
  • Shelters do not exist in many suburban and rural
  • Eligibility conditions of shelters often exclude
    families with boys over the age of 12, or
    unaccompanied minors.
  • Motels may not be available, or may be too
  • Youth on their own may fear adult shelters.
  • Shelters often have 30, 60, or 90 day time
  • Families/youth may be unaware of alternatives,
    fleeing in crisis, living in over-crowded,
    temporary, and sometimes unsafe environments.

Determining Eligibility
  • Case-by-case determination
  • Get as much information as possible (with
    sensitivity and discretion)
  • Look at the MV definition (specific examples in
    the definition first, then overall definition)
  • Shared housing considerations
  • Where would you go if you couldnt stay here?
  • What led you to move in to this situation?
  • NCHEs Determining Eligibility brief is available
    at http//

Identifying EligibleChildren and Youth
  • Identification is critical.
  • It affects state and local funding.
  • Its the law.
  • It affects students eligibility for a wide
    variety of services.

Identification Strategies
  • Provide awareness activities for school staff
    (registrars, secretaries, counselors, nurses,
    teachers, tutors, bus drivers, security officers,
    drop out prevention specialists, administrators,
  • http//
  • http//
  • Coordinate with community service agencies, such
    as shelters, soup kitchens, public assistance and
    housing agencies, and public health departments.

Identification Strategies (cont.)
  • Post outreach materials and posters in all
    schools and where there is a frequent influx of
    low-income families and youth in high-risk
    situations, including motels, campgrounds,
    libraries, youth centers.
  • http//
  • http//
  • Use enrollment and withdrawal forms to inquire
    about living situations.

Identification Strategies (cont.)
  • Make special efforts to identify preschool
    children, including asking about the siblings of
    school-aged children.
  • Develop relationships with truancy officials
    and/or other attendance officers.
  • Enlist youth to spread the word.
  • Make sure data entry and database managers know
    how to enter, maintain and report information.
  • Avoid using the word "homeless with school
    personnel, families, or youth.

Research on School Stability
  • Demonstration project in WA showed that school
    stability for homeless students increases
    assessment scores and grades.
  • Mobility also hurts non-mobile students study
    found average test scores for non-mobile students
    were significantly lower in high schools with
    high student mobility rates.
  • Students who changed high schools even once
    during high school were less than half as likely
    as stable students to graduate, even controlling
    for other factors.

Research on School Stability (cont.)
  • Recent study published in the Archives of
    Psychiatry found that youth aged 11 to 17 were
    twice as likely to attempt suicide if their
    families moved three or more times compared to
    those who had never moved.
  • Victoria, TX adopted a One Child, One School,
    One Year policy.
  • ADA increased 1.6 million.
  • TAKS scores increased significantly.

School Stability Key Provisions
  • Students can stay in their school of origin for
    the duration of homeless and until the end of the
    school year when they find permanent housing, as
    long as that is in their best interest.
  • School of originschool attended when permanently
    housed or in which last enrolled.
  • Best interestkeep homeless students in their
    schools of origin, to the extent feasible,
    unless this is against the parents or guardians
  • Can always also choose the local school (any
    school others living in the same area are
    eligible to attend).

Feasibility USDE Criteria
  • A child-centered, individualized determination
  • Continuity of instruction
  • Age of the child or youth
  • Safety of the child or youth
  • Likely length of stay in temporary housing
  • Likely area where family will find permanent
  • Students need for special instructional programs
  • Impact of commute on education
  • School placement of siblings
  • Time remaining in the school year

TransportationKey Provisions
  • LEAs must provide transportation to and from
    their school of origin, at a parents or
    guardians request (or at the liaisons request
    for unaccompanied youth).
  • If crossing LEA lines, they must determine how
    to divide the responsibility and share the cost,
    or they must share the cost equally.

TransportationKey Provisions
  • 2. LEAs also must provide students in homeless
    situations with transportation services
    comparable to those provided to other students.
  • 3. LEAs must eliminate barriers to the school
    enrollment and retention of students experiencing
    homelessness (including transportation barriers).

Transportation Strategies
  • Develop close ties among local liaisons, school
    staff, pupil transportation staff, and shelter
  • Use school buses (including special education,
    magnet school and other buses).
  • Develop formal or informal agreements with school
    districts where homeless children cross district
  • Use public transit where feasible.
  • Use approved carpools, van or taxi services.
  • Reimburse parents and youth for gas.
  • Hire a homeless transportation coordinator

School Stability Resources
  • School of origin vs. Local school
  • http//
  • Transportation
  • http//

School Enrollment Key Provisions
  • If remaining in the school of origin is not
    feasible, children and youth in homeless
    situations are entitled to immediate enrollment
    in any public school that students living in the
    same attendance area are eligible to attend.
  • The terms enroll and enrollment include
    attending classes and participating fully in
    school activities.

Enrollment Key Provisions (cont.)
  • Enrollment must be immediate, even if students do
    not have required documents, such as school
    records, health records, proof of residency or
    guardianship, or other documents.
  • If a student does not have immunizations, or
    immunization or medical records, the liaison must
    immediately assist in obtaining them, and the
    student must be enrolled in the interim.

Enrollment Key Provisions (cont.)
  • Enrolling schools must obtain school records from
    the previous school, and students must be
    enrolled in school while records are obtained.
  • Schools must maintain records for students who
    are homeless so they are available quickly.
  • SEAs and LEAs must develop, review, and revise
    policies to remove barriers to the enrollment and
    retention of children and youth in homeless

Immediate Enrollment Strategies
  • Request all records from the previous school
    immediately, including immunization records.
  • Parental signature is not required for transfer
    students (FERPA).
  • The vast majority of students have been enrolled
    in school before and have received immunizations.
  • Speak with parents and youth about the classes
    the student was in, previous coursework and
    special needs.
  • Call the counselor, teachers or principal at the
    previous school for information.
  • Ensure enrollment staff on every campus are aware
    of the law and procedures.

School Enrollment Resources
  • Immediate enrollment without documents
  • http//
  • Immediate enrollment without parent/guardian
  • http//
  • Immediate enrollment without immunizations
  • http//

School EnrollmentResources (cont.)
  • Full participation in school activities
  • http//
  • Ensuring credit accrual and recovery
  • http//

Resolution of DisputesKey Provisions
  • Every state must establish dispute resolution
  • When a dispute over enrollment arises, the
    student must be admitted immediately to the
    school of choice while the dispute is being
  • The parent or guardian must be provided with a
    written explanation of the schools decision,
    including the right to appeal.
  • The school must refer the child, youth, parent,
    or guardian to the liaison to carry out the
    dispute resolution process as expeditiously as

Support for Success
  • Students who experience homelessness must have
    access to educational services for which they are
    eligible, including special education, programs
    for English learners, gifted and talented
    programs, voc./tech. programs, and school
    nutrition programs.
  • Undocumented children and youth have the same
    right to attend public school as U.S. citizens
    and are covered by the McKinney-Vento Act to the
    same extent as other children and youth (Plyler
    v. Doe).

Support for Success (cont.)
  • Homeless students are automatically eligible for
    free school meals.
  • USDA policy permits liaisons and shelter
    directors to obtain free school meals for
    students immediately by providing a list of names
    of students experiencing homelessness with
    effective dates.
  • http//

Support for Success (cont.)
  • The 2004 reauthorization of IDEA included
    amendments that reinforce timely assessment,
    inclusion, and continuity of services for
    homeless children and youth who have
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Support for Success (cont.)Title I and
  • A child or youth who is homeless is automatically
    eligible for Title IA services, regardless of
    whether his or her school is a Title IA school.
  • LEAs must reserve (or set aside) the funds
    necessary to serve homeless children who do not
    attend Title IA schools, including educationally
    related support services.
  • Funds may be used for children attending any
    school in the LEA.

Strategies for Determining the Title IA
Set-Aside Amount
  • Review needs and costs involved in serving
    homeless students in the current year and project
    for the following year.
  • Multiply the number of homeless students by the
    Title IA per pupil allocation.
  • For districts with subgrants, reserve an amount
    greater than or equal to the McKinney-Vento
    subgrant funding request.
  • Reserve a percentage based on the districts
    poverty level or total Title IA allocation.

USED Guidance on Using Title IA Funds for
Homeless Students
  • Title I funds may be used for services not
    ordinarily provided to other Title I students.
  • Services must be reasonable and necessary to
    enable homeless students to take advantage of
    educational opportunities.
  • Funds must be used as a last resort when services
    are not reasonably available from another public
    or private source.
  • An individual paid in whole or in part with Title
    IA funds may also serve as a homeless liaison.

USED Guidance (cont.)
  • Examples of Uses of Title IA funds
  • Items of clothing, particularly if necessary to
    meet a schools dress or uniform requirement
  • Clothing and shoes necessary to participate in
    physical education classes
  • Student fees that are necessary to participate in
    the general education program
  • Personal school supplies such as backpacks and
  • Birth certificates necessary to enroll in school
  • Immunizations
  • Food

USED Guidance (cont.)
  • Uses of Title IA funds (cont.)
  • Medical and dental services
  • Eyeglasses and hearing aids
  • Counseling services
  • Outreach services
  • Extended learning time
  • Tutoring services
  • Parental involvement
  • Fees for AP and IB testing
  • Fees for SAT/ACT testing
  • GED testing for school-age students

Title I Part A Resources
  • http//
  • http//

How Many Young Children Experience Homelessness?
  • In 2008-2009, 52 of all children in HUD homeless
    shelters were under the age of 6.
  • 33,433 homeless children ages 3-5 (not
    kindergarten) were identified and enrolled in
    public preschool in 2008-2009.
  • Represents only 3.5 of students identified as
    homeless by public schools.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start served 38,918
    homeless families in 2010 (roughly 3 of Head
    Starts total enrollment).
  • Up from 31,808 in 2009 and 25,969 in 2008.

Impacts on Young Children
  • Higher rates of developmental delays
  • Infants who are homeless start life needing
    special care four times more often than other
  • Homeless toddlers show significantly slower
    development than other children
  • Higher rates of chronic and acute health
  • Higher exposure to domestic and other types of

Head Start Findings
  • Compared to non-homeless children served by Head
    Start (1999 HS demonstration programs), homeless
    children have
  • Greater developmental delays (language)
  • More learning disabilities
  • More health and mental health problems
  • Higher frequency of withdrawal, shyness,
    separation anxiety, short attention disorder,
    flat affect, aggression, hoarding, anxiety in
    response to changes in environment or staff
    absences, concern over getting enough food, and
    sharing toys

McKinney-Vento Provisions
  • Liaisons must ensure that families and children
    have access to Head Start, Even Start, and other
    public preschool programs administered by the
  • State McKinney-Vento plans must describe
    procedures that ensure that homeless children
    have access to public preschool programs.

Head Start Provisions
  • Homeless children are categorically eligible for
    Head Start programs
  • Head Start programs are required to identify and
    prioritize homeless children for enrollment
    allow homeless children to enroll while required
    paperwork is obtained and coordinate with LEA
  • OHS Information http//

Strategies for Accessing Public Preschool
  • Identify the existing public preschool programs
    within your district classrooms for 3, 4 and 5
    year olds preschool special education programs
    other federally funded projects and
    community/district collaborations.
  • Connect with key public early childhood and
    elementary school staff to build relationships,
    share data,and create awareness of the impact of
    homelessness on young children to work toward
    future partnerships.
  • Advocate for slots for homeless children within
    those existing preschool programs.

Strategies for Accessing Public Preschool (cont.)
  • Include homelessness in the list of criteria for
    priority enrollment, classify homelessness as an
    at risk factor, and/or include homelessness
    specifically as a criterion for "most in need.
  • Designate a homeless contact at each Head Start
    program in your community make sure each contact
    is trained and hold regular meetings.
  • Designate a young child contact at each
    homeless service program ensure that this
    contact is knowledgeable about Head Start, child
    development, etc.
  • Explore funding support from Title I, Part A,
    ARRA, and grants sources such as United Way.

Young Children Resources
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Unaccompanied Youth--Who Are They?
  • Definition child or youth who meets the
    definition of homeless and is not in the physical
    custody of a parent or guardian.
  • Some youth become homeless with their families,
    but end up on their own due to lack of space in
    temporary accommodations or shelter policies that
    prohibit adolescent boys.
  • 60 of homeless mothers live apart from at least
    one of their minor children 35 live apart from
    all their children.
  • 93 of homeless fathers live apart from all their

Who Are They? (cont.)
  • Studies have found that 20 to 50 percent of
    unaccompanied youth were sexually abused in their
    homes, while 40 to 60 percent were physically
  • Over two-thirds of callers to Runaway Hotline
    report that at least one of their parents abuses
    drugs or alcohol.
  • Over half of youth living in shelters report that
    their parents either told them to leave, or knew
    they were leaving and did not care.

Who Are They? (cont.)
  • 20-40 of homeless youth identify as gay,
    lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (compared to
    3-5 of the overall population).
  • At the end of 2005, over 11,000 children fled a
    foster care placement and were never found
    25-40 of youth who emancipate from foster care
    will end up homeless.
  • Many youth have been thrown out of their homes
    due to pregnancy.
  • 48 of street youth have been pregnant or
    impregnated someone.
  • 10 of currently homeless female teens are

Unaccompanied YouthKey Provisions
  • Liaisons must help unaccompanied youth choose and
    enroll in a school, after considering the youths
    wishes, and inform the youth of his or her appeal
  • School personnel must be made aware of the
    specific needs of runaway and homeless youth.

Unaccompanied YouthStrategies
  • Develop clear policies for enrolling
    unaccompanied youth immediately, whether youth
    enroll themselves, liaisons do enrollment,
    caretakers enroll youth in their care, or another
    procedure is in place.
  • Train local liaisons and all school enrollment
    staff, secretaries, counselors, principals,
    school security staff, attendance officers, and
    teachers on the definition, rights, and needs of
    unaccompanied youth.
  • Coordinate with youth-serving agencies, such as
    shelters, soup kitchens, drop-in centers, street
    outreach, child welfare, juvenile courts, law
    enforcement, legal aid, teen parent programs,
    public assistance, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgende
    r youth organizations, mental health agencies

Unaccompanied YouthStrategies (cont.)
  • Offer youth an adult and peer mentor.
  • Establish systems to monitor youths attendance
    and performance, and let youth know youll be
    checking up on them.
  • Help youth participate fully in school (clubs,
    sports, homework help, etc.)
  • Build trust! Be patient, and ensure discretion
    and confidentiality when working with youth.

What about parental disapproval /school
  • Liability is based on the concept of negligence,
    or a failure to exercise reasonable care.
  • Following federal law and providing appropriate
    services are evidence of reasonable care.
  • Violating federal law and denying services are
    evidence of negligence.
  • Dont hide children from their parents, but do
    enroll youth in school immediately, do engage
    parents and youth with school counselors and/or
    family mediation services, and do involve child
    welfare when necessary.

Unaccompanied Youth andHigher Education The
  • Youth who meet the definition of independent
    student can complete the FAFSA without parental
    income information or signature.
  • Unaccompanied youth are automatically considered
    independent students.
  • Must be verified as unaccompanied and homeless
    during the school year in which the application
    is submitted.
  • Youth who are unaccompanied, at risk of
    homelessness, and self-supporting are also
    automatically considered independent students.
  • Must be verified as such during the school year
    in which the application is submitted.

FAFSA (cont.)
  • Verification must be made by
  • a McKinney-Vento Act school district liaison,
  • a HUD homeless assistance program director or
    their designee,
  • a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program director
    or their designee, or
  • a financial aid administrator.
  • Youth who have been in foster care at any time
    after age 13 are also automatically independent.

Unaccompanied Youth Resources
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Why It Matters
  • I have lived in many homes and shelters. Just
    in this past year, I have lived in twelve
    different homes. I have lived with classmates,
    teachers, friends, and strangers. Anybody who
    would accept me was better than the street. I
    knew that education and God were the only ways to
    get out of this cycle. I stayed in school and
    made good grades because I knew with an education
    I could go far. I have always dreamed of being
    free. I want the freedom to know where I am going
    to sleep, the freedom to know where my belongings
    are, and the freedom to know that I wont be
    asked to leave in the morning or at the end of
    the week.
  • Naomi Caren Fairbanks - 2007 LeTendre Scholarship

General Resources
  • National Association for the Education of
    Homeless Children and Youth
  • http//
  • National Center on Homeless Education
  • http//
  • National Law Center on Homelessness Poverty
  • http//
  • National Network for Youth
  • http//
  • HEAR US - DVD for awareness-raising
  • http//

Contact Information
  • Barbara Duffield, Policy Director
  • Phone 202.364.7392
  • Email
  • Patricia Julianelle, Legal Director
  • Phone 202.436.9087
  • Email