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Our Invisible Students: Homeless Children


Our Invisible Students: Homeless Children & Youth Pam Kies-Lowe State Coordinator for Homeless Education Michigan Department of Education Office of Field Services ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Our Invisible Students: Homeless Children

Our Invisible StudentsHomeless Children Youth
  • Pam Kies-Lowe
  • State Coordinator for Homeless Education
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Office of Field Services, Special Populations

  • More than 1.5 million children will experience
    homelessness over the course of a year.
  • 42 of these children are under the age of 6.
  • 47 of them are African-American.

National Center for Family Homelessness. 2009.
Americas Youngest Outcasts State Report Card on
Child Homelessness
  • An estimated 1.6 1.7 million youth become
    runaways or homeless each year.
  • Females, African-Americans, and Native Americans
    are over-represented among these youth.
  • Between 20-40 of homeless youth identify as

Understanding Homeless Youth Numbers,
Characteristics, Multisystem Involvement, and
Intervention Options. Testimony Given before the
U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means,
Subcommittee on Income Security and Family
Support, June 19, 2007. Urban Institute.
Ringwalt, C. L. Greene, J. M. Robertson, M. J.
1998. Familial Backgrounds and Risk Behaviors of
Youth with Thrownaway Experiences. Journal of
Adolescence 21(3) 241-252.
  • In any given day, researchers estimate that
    more than 200,000 children have no place
    to live.
  • Homeless families are more likely to be headed
    by a single mother in her 20s with young children.

National Center for Family Homelessness. 2009.
Americas Youngest Outcasts State Report Card on
Child Homelessness
Between the 2007-2008 and the 2009-2010 school
years, Michigan school districts reported
increases of 300 in the numbers of homeless
students identified.
Our Invisible Students Homeless Children and
  • Michigan Statistics 2007-2010
  • 7,500 homeless students were reported in
    Michigans 2007-2008 State Student
  • 23,899 homeless students were reported in
    unofficial counts (3/09) by Michigan schools for
    2007-2008 (69 higher than official count)
  • And yet
  • 14,682 homeless students were reported in
    Michigans 2008-2009 State Student
    Database (a 96 increase in official count over
  • 22,673 homeless students were reported in
    Michigans 2000-2010 State Student Database (a
    54 increase in official count over 08-09)

Michigan School District Data
What You Need to Know About Homelessness in
  • Families comprise more than half the homeless in
  • 1 of every 3 homeless persons in Michigan is a
  • The average age of a homeless child is 7.8
  • 30 of homeless families are working poor
  • 77 of families are homeless due to lack of
    affordable housing
  • Of homeless families, 45 reported being homeless
    more than once
  • Between 2007 and 2008, family homelessness
    increased 10.8 in MI, with the largest increases
    in rural Michigan

Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness,
2007 Factsheet The Campaign to End
Homelessness, 2008 Annual Summary
What You Need to Know About Homelessness in
  • Rural homelessness is not the same as urban
  • 37 of the rural homeless population is between
    the ages of 18 and 24, compared to 13 of the
    urban population
  • 57 of rural homeless are part of a family
    (versus 45 of urban homeless)
  • Rural homeless is a recent phenomena
    more people in rural communities
    report this is their first
    experience ever being homeless

Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, 2007
Homelessness is an economic issue
  • The major factors contributing to homelessness
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Poverty
  • Domestic violence
  • Lack of employment or underemployment
  • Debt and/or lack of income
  • Addiction
  • Disabilities or health problems
  • Natural and other disasters
  • Abuse (physical sexual), neglect, parental
    substance abuse, and family conflict (for
    unaccompanied youth)

Top 3 reasons are highlighted in bold.
Lack of Affordable Housing
  • One in seven US households 37.3 million has
    severe housing cost burdens. Most of these
    households (78) are in the bottom quarter of the
    income distribution (earning 23,000 or less
  • A full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot
    afford a one bedroom unit priced at the Fair
    Market Rent anywhere in the United States
  • Nationally, a full-time worker must earn 17.32
    per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at
    Fair Market Rent
  • The average wait for a Section 8 Voucher (public
    housing) is nearly 3 years (currently 35 months)

  • Many families do not earn adequate wages
  • 24 million US jobs (one-fifth of all jobs) do not
    keep a family of four out of poverty
  • 15 of all American families and 32 of
    single-parent families lived below the Federal
    Poverty Line in 2006
  • 2009 Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 22,050 for a family of four
  • 18,310 for a family of three
  • 14,570 for a family of two
  • On average, families need an income twice as high
    as the FPL to meet their most basic needs.

Domestic Violence
  • Those fleeing domestic violence are more likely
    to become homeless or have a problem finding
    housing because of their unique and often urgent
  • Difficulty finding apartments due to poor credit,
    rental, and employment histories as a result of
    their abuse
  • Few tangible social supports (Isolation of the
    victim is part of the cycle of domestic abuse.)
  • Limited ability to collect and/or enforce child
    support and alimony payments
  • Through a one strike policy, women may be
    evicted for a violent activity regardless of
    the cause or the circumstances.

Research on School Mobility
  • It takes children an average of 4-6 months to
    recover academically after changing schools.
  • Mobile students score 20 points lower on
    standardized tests than non-mobile students.
  • Mobile students are less likely to participate in
    extracurricular activities and more likely to act
    out or get into trouble.
  • 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 were
    less than half as likely as stable students to
    graduate, even controlling for other factors.

Project Forum at National Assoc. of State
Directors of Special Education, March
2007 National Association for the Education of
Homeless Children and Youth, 2006
Who is considered homeless?
  • Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate
    nighttime residence (McKinney-Vento Homeless
    Assistance Act, 2002)
  • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of
    housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
  • Living in motels, hotels, RV/trailer parks,
    camping grounds due to lack of adequate
    alternative accommodations
  • Living in emergency, domestic violence, or
    transitional shelters
  • Temporary foster care placement or awaiting
  • Living in a public or private place not designed
    for humans to live or sleep
  • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus
    or train stations, under bridges, etc.
  • Migratory children living in above circumstances
  • Runaway or throw-away youth not with

Impact of Homelessness on Children and Youth
  • Research shows that children experiencing
    homelessness are more likely to
  • Get sick 4 times as often as non-homeless
  • Four times as many respiratory infections
  • Twice as many ear infections
  • Five times more gastrointestinal problems
  • Four times more likely to have asthma
  • Go hungry at twice the rate of other children
  • Have high rates of obesity due to nutritional
  • Have 3 times the rate of emotional and behavioral
    problems compared to non-homeless children

National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009
Impact of Homelessness on Children and Youth
The constant barrage of stressful and traumatic
experiences also has profound effects on their
development and ability to learn.
  • Experiences of Violence
  • By age 12, 83 had been exposed to at least one
    serious violent event
  • Almost 25 have witnessed acts of violence within
    their families
  • Children who witness violence are more likely to
  • Aggressive and antisocial behavior
  • Increased fearfulness
  • Higher levels of depression and anxiety
  • Greater acceptance of violence as a means of
    resolving conflict

National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009
Impact of Homelessness on Children and Youth
  • Developmental Milestones and Academic Performance
  • Four times more likely to show delayed
  • Twice as likely to have learning disabilities as
    non-homeless children
  • Academic performance problems
  • 2.5 times more likely to perform below grade
    level in math
  • 1.5 times more likely to perform below grade
    level in reading
  • 1.5 times more likely to perform below grade
    level in spelling

National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009
Impact of Increased Homelessness on School
  • Rising transportation costs and logistical
    challenges in making sure homeless children have
    access to school
  • Inadequate staff to identify and support children
    and youth experiencing homelessness
  • Lack of affordable housing and available shelter
    space, leading to lower enrollments
  • Reduction in other community services and
  • Greater severity of needs in remaining families

Education of Homeless Children and Youth (ECHY)
Programs in Michigan
  • During the current 2009-2011 McKinney-Vento
    Homeless Education grant cycle -
  • 30 grants representing approximately 786 of 852
    school districts and 77 of 83 Michigan counties
  • 29 ARRA grants to build capacity and strengthen
    district homeless education programs
  • Funding priorities
  • Consortium programs to reach unserved areas of
    the state
  • Professional development training of district
  • Academic achievement of homeless students
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth
  • Parent engagement in education

Includes Local Education Agencies, Public
School Academies, and Intermediate School
  • MI Homeless Grant Coverage
  • 2010-2011
  • MI Homeless Grant Coverage
  • 2008-2009

24 counties not served by grants
5 counties not served by grants
Barriers to Education forHomeless Children and
  • Enrollment requirements (lack of school records,
    immunizations, proof of residence and
  • High mobility resulting in lack of school
    stability and educational continuity
  • Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc.
  • Lack of access to programs
  • Lack of transportation
  • Poor health, fatigue, hunger
  • Lasting emotional impact
  • Prejudice and misunderstanding

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • Reauthorized in 2002 as Title X of NCLB
  • Main themes
  • School stability
  • Access to school and school
  • Support for academic success
  • Child-centered focus
  • Decision making in best interest of child

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Key
  • Districts must
  • Provide educational stability for homeless
  • Provide immediate school access for homeless
  • Appoint a local homeless education liaison
  • Serve homeless students with Title I funds
  • Develop, review, and revise their policies to
    remove barriers to the enrollment and retention
    of children and youth in homeless situations
  • Address problems resulting from enrollment delays
    caused by immunization and medical records
    requirements residency requirements lack of
    birth certificates, school records or other
    documentation guardianship issues or uniform or
    dress code requirements

School Stability Key Provisions
  • Students can stay in their school of origin
    the entire time they are
    homeless, and until the
    end of any academic year in
    which they move into permanent housing
  • If a student becomes homeless in between academic
    years, he or she may continue in the school of
    origin for the following academic year
  • If district declines placement requested by a
    parent or guardian, the district must provide
    a written explanation to the parent or guardian
    of its decision and the right to appeal

School Stability Key Provisions
  • Children and youth experiencing
    homelessness can stay in their school
    of origin or enroll in
    any public school
    that students living in the same
    attendance area are eligible to
    attend, according to their
    best interest
  • School of origin school attended when
    permanently housed or in which last enrolled
  • Best interest keep homeless students in their
    schools of origin, to the extent feasible, unless
    this is against the parents or guardians wishes

Feasibility USED Sample Criteria
  • Use as guideline when determining school of
    origin feasibility -
  • Continuity of instruction
  • Age of the child or youth
  • Safety of the child or youth
  • Length of stay at the shelter
  • 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

Access to Services
  • 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
  • USDA policy permits liaisons and shelter
    directors to obtain free school meals
    for students by providing a list of names of
    students experiencing homelessness with effective
  • The 2004 reauthorization of IDEA includes
    amendments that reinforce timely assessment,
    inclusion, and continuity of services for
    homeless children and youth with disabilities
  • States are prohibited from segregating homeless
    students in separate schools, separate programs
    within schools, or separate settings within

Title I and Homelessness Key
  • A child or youth who is homeless and is attending
    any school in the district is automatically
    eligible for Title I-A services (academic support
  • Services for homeless students in both Title I
    and non-Title I schools must be comparable to
    those provided to non-homeless students in Title
    I schools
  • Services that are not ordinarily provided to
    other Title I students and that are not
    available from other sources
  • Tutoring for homeless students in shelters and
    other locations where homeless students are living

Local McKinney-VentoHomeless Education Liaisons
  • Every LEA must designate a Liaison to serve
    students in homeless situations
  • Responsibilities of the Liaison
  • Ensure that children and youth in homeless
    situations are identified and reported
  • Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have
    full and equal opportunity to succeed in school
    (usually within 1 day)
  • Link with educational services, including Title
    I, preschool, special education, and health
  • Link with community services, including medical,
    dental, mental health, etc.

Local McKinney-VentoHomeless Education Liaisons
  • Post public notice of educational rights
    (FREE posters at http//www.serve.org/n
  • Resolve disputes at district level
  • Inform parents, guardians, or youth of
    educational rights, including transportation
    services to the school of origin
  • Visit www.serve.org/nche for Best Practices
  • School Selection for Students in Out of Home Care
  • Child Welfare Professionals the McKinney-Vento
    Act Q A
  • LIBRARY Info. by Topic

Transportation Key Provisions
  • School districts must eliminate transportation
    barriers to the school enrollment and retention
    of students experiencing homelessness
  • LEAs must provide students experiencing
    homelessness with transportation to and
    from their
    school of origin
  • at a parents or guardians request
  • at the liaisons request, for unaccompanied youth
  • at a DHS caseworkers request
  • If the students temporary residence and the
    school of origin are in the same LEA, that LEA
    must provide or arrange transportation

Transportation Key Provisions
  • If the student is living outside of the school of
    origins LEA, the LEA where the student is living
    and the school of origins LEA must determine how
    to divide the responsibility and share the cost,
    or they must share the cost equally
  • In addition to providing transportation to the
    school of origin, LEAs must provide
    transportation services to parents/guardians of
    homeless students to attend school meetings and
    teacher conferences, if requested
  • Schools that do not provide transportation to
    students must provide it for homeless students

Transportation Strategies
  • Develop close ties among local liaisons, school
    staff, pupil transportation staff, shelter
    workers and caseworkers
  • Re-route school buses (including special
    education, magnet school and other buses)
  • Develop agreements with school districts where
    homeless children cross district lines
  • Provide passes for public transportation
  • Use approved van or taxi services
  • Provide parents with pre-paid gas cards
  • Arrange rides with school staff

Resolution of Disputes Key
  • Every state must establish and distribute dispute
    resolution procedures (www.michigan.gov/homeless)
  • When a dispute over enrollment arises, the
    student must be admitted immediately to the
    school of choice while the dispute is being
  • Liaisons must ensure unaccompanied youth are
    enrolled immediately while a dispute is being

Resolution of Disputes Key
  • Whenever a school declines the school selection
    or service request of the parent/guardian of a
    homeless student, or when a dispute arises, 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
  • Documentation should be kept for all local
    liaison interventions with parentsnot just
    formal disputes (NCLB)

FOCUS ON Title III Students Experiencing
Title III and Homeless Students
  • Immigrant and refugee children youth often
    experience higher rates of mobility and poverty
  • These are associated with learning difficulties,
    academic failure, and increased dropout rates
    very similar to families experiencing
  • Living conditions may make them eligible for
    services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless
    Assistance Act

Title III and Homeless Students (2)
  • McKinney-Vento services are designed to reduce
    academic barriers and have a positive impact on
    the educational outcomes of students experiencing
  • M-V services can also help create a safe and
    welcoming environment for immigrant students and
    their parents who lack a fixed, regular, and
    adequate nighttime residence

Determining McKinney-Vento Eligibility for
Immigrant Students
  • Due to services available for immigrants, it is
    rare for them not to have housing
  • Immigrant students do have higher rates of
    poverty and high mobility both predictors for
  • Immigrant families often stay with friends or
    family members, or in overcrowded conditions, due
    to economic hardship
  • Some of these conditions are similar to families
    experiencing homelessness

Determining McKinney-Vento Eligibility for
Immigrant Students (2)
  • Explain that the reason for asking questions is
    to see if the student is eligible for additional
    educational services.
  • Avoid using the term homeless. Instead use
    families in transition.
  • Explain the legal definition fixed, regular,
    and adequate nighttime residence
  • Encourage parent participation by providing
    interpreters, explaining school policies and
    expectations, and offering transportation for
    school meetings

Determining McKinney-Vento Eligibility for
Immigrant Students (3)
  • Is this a permanent living arrangement or just a
    temporary place to stay?
  • Are you living with friends or relatives?
  • In how many places have you lived since you came
    the United States?
  • How long have you been in your current place?
  • How long do you intend to stay there?

Determining McKinney-Vento Eligibility for
Immigrant Students (4)
  • How many people live in the home?
  • How many bathrooms are there?
  • Do you and the children share a room?
  • How many stay in one room?
  • Does the home have electricity/heat/hot cold
    running water?

Educational Barriers to Successfor Title III
  • Language barriers
  • Lack of school and parent materials in native
  • Educational deficits from previous gaps in
  • Lack of documents verifying birth and
  • Perceived lack of academic support from parents
  • Differences in cultures and learning styles

Educational Barriers to Successfor Title III
students (continued)
  • Difficulty in tracking students progress due to
    high mobility (and language barriers)
  • Lack of quality professional development programs
    for school staff (related to serving immigrants)
  • Discrimination often from lack of accurate
    information and cultural misunderstandings
  • Students needs to work full-time to support
    their families (interferes with class time and
    school schedules)

Strategies to Reduce Barriers
  • McKinney-Vento Liaisons should
  • Connect with local immigrant leadership groups,
    churches, mosques, parent advisory councils, etc.
    to become more familiar with immigrant cultural
    and language issues.
  • Work closely with refugee resettlement agencies
    in order to determine M-V eligibility on a
    case-by-case basis
  • Have school materials translated into immigrants
    native languages.
  • Arrange transportation for parents and ensure
    that interpreters are available for parent

Strategies to Reduce Barriers
  • McKinney-Vento Liaisons should
  • Arrange for immunizations or retrieve
    immunization records for students
  • Make referrals to healthcare, dental, mental
    health, and other community services, as needed.
  • Coordinate with other school programs to assure
    that immigrant refugee children receive
    appropriate academic support.
  • CAUTION Lack of English skills should NOT mean
    these children are placed in special education or
    low academic tracks, despite high capabilities!

Coordination with Title III
  • Increase awareness of M-V Act and services, as
    well as understanding of who is eligible
  • Increase awareness of district community
    services for immigrants and refugees
  • Identify a term in immigrants native languages
    that connotes homelessness or eligibility for
    such services
  • Coordinate assistance in providing interpreters
    when interviewing immigrant or refugee families
    or students

Coordination with Community Agencies
  • Gather information on local laws/policies related
    to immigrant families
  • Learn what services are available in the
    community and discuss ways to coordinate with
    school services
  • Collaborate to develop procedures for agencies to
    refer children and families who may be eligible
    for M-V services to the local district Liaison
  • Find assistance with translating/interpreting

Contact Information
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Homeless Education Program Office
  • 517-241-1162
  • Homeless Education Website
  • www.michigan.gov/homeless
  • Pam Kies-Lowe
  • State Coordinator for Homeless Education
  • kies-lowep_at_michigan.gov

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