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Families in Transition It Can Happen to You…Understanding Homelessness

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Presentation on theme: "Families in Transition It Can Happen to You…Understanding Homelessness"— Presentation transcript:

1 Families in Transition It Can Happen to You…Understanding Homelessness
Division of Student Services Project Upstart Homeless Student Education Program

2 Homeless Awareness Test
The fastest growing segment within the homeless population is homeless men. True or False The majority of homeless adults are unemployed. The average age of a homeless person in the United States is twelve. Families who live with other families (double-up) may be considered homeless. Question 1: Answer: FALSE The reality is that the fastest growing population are families. Question #2 Answer FALSE Many homeless adults are employed, Approximately 30% of homeless adults are unemployed. Lack of affordable housing contributes greatly to homelessness. Question #3 Answer TRUE Question # 4 TRUE Living with a friend or family member temporarily due to a financial hardship is considered double-up and is considered homeless.

3 Who is Homeless? According to the Stewart B. McKinney Act (1994) a person is considered homeless who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; Shares the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason Living in emergency or transitional shelters Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations Awaiting foster care placement Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings The McKinney-Vento Homeless assistance Act, reauthorized in January 2002, ensures educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness. This is a Federal Law.

4 Homeless students are not to be stigmatized or separated
McKinney-Vento at a Glance The McKinney Vento Law ensures the following: School Stability Transportation Immediate Enrollment Enrolled During Disputes Comparable Services Homeless students are not to be stigmatized or separated The following are educational rights that all homeless students have: School Stability: the homeless student has the option to stay at his/her home school or enroll at the school that is closest to his/her current residence. Transportation: The district will provide transportation to homeless students. All transportation requests MUST be processed through the Project Upstart office. Immediate enrollment: A homeless student cannot be denied enrollment even if the following is not available School records Proof of address Immunization records Birth certificate Enrolled during disputes: If a school denies enrollment of a homeless student, the student has a right to dispute the decision with the FLDOE HOWEVER during the dispute the student must be enrolled in the school. Comparable services: Homeless students are ensured the same rights as housed students Schools are prohibited from segregating homeless students in separate schools,s eparate programs within schools, or separate settings within schools. 4/11/2017

5 The Scale of Homelessness
Up to two million people will experience homelessness this year. Approximately half of these people will be children and youth. Families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population. 4,269 M-DCPS Students were identified as homeless during the school year The numbers of homeless students have doubled since last year and continue to rise with the failing economy.

6 M-DCPS Homeless Education Program
4/11/2017 M-DCPS Homeless Education Program Project Upstart Homeless Children & Youth Program seeks to ensure a successful educational experience for homeless children and youth in South Florida by collaborating with parents, schools, and community through opening the doors to academic opportunities, removing barriers and promoting a healthy sense of self. Project Upstart’s homeless children & youth program has been in M-DCPS since This program ensures that all homeless students receive the services that they are entitled to.

7 4/11/2017 Project Upstart Goals All M-DCPS homeless children and youth fully realize their legal rights in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act All M-DCPS homeless students will make annual learning gains sufficient to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to master state standards in the areas of reading and math The negative impact of homelessness will be offset, so that M-DCPS homeless students continue to develop and thrive.

8 Project Upstart ensures the following:
4/11/2017 Project Upstart ensures the following: Enrollment Immediate Documentation not required Free Lunch Documentation and signatures not required Transportation Provided at parent request Student can stay at home school and transportation is provided Registrars MUST enroll homeless students immediately. Documentation required for other students does not apply to homeless students. This includes school records, birth certificate, proof of address and proof of immunization (school has 30 days to acquire necessary documentation) Transportation can only be processed at the District Homeless Education office.

9 Academic Enrichment Activities
4/11/2017 Additionally: Students receive: Book bags School Supplies Uniforms Academic Enrichment Activities Tutoring Parenting Groups Counseling All services and supplies can be obtained through the District Homeless Education office (Project Upstart). A referral must be made in order to receive supplies and services. The school registrar or school counselor can make referrals. Additionally parents can visit the office and their requests will be processed.

10 Unaccompanied Youth 4/11/2017

11 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and Youth in your Community?
At the end of 2008, 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 their sexual orientation: 20-40% of unaccompanied youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (compared to 3-5% of adults). 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 unaccompanied youth in your community? The term “unaccompanied youth” includes youth in homeless situations who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. ❒ Unaccompanied youth have the same rights as other students experiencing homelessness to enroll in, attend, and succeed in public school. 4/11/2017

12 Unaccompanied Youth(cont.)
Some children and youth are in unstable living situations due to parental incarceration, illness, hospitalization or death. 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. Many unaccompanied children and youth have fled abuse in the home: Studies have found that 20-40% of unaccompanied youth were sexually abused in their homes, while 40-60% were physically abused. Over two-thirds of callers to Runaway Hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY) report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol. Tragically, 5,000 unaccompanied youth will die each year from assault, illness or suicide Some children from other countries are sent to live with relatives. Unaccompanied youth are young people “not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian”2 and include youth who have run away from home or have been forced to leave their homes. According the National Runaway Switchboard of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one out of every seven children will run away before the age of 18.3 Unaccompanied youth live in a wide variety of situations, including shelters, the streets, abandoned buildings, doubled-up with friends or relatives, cars and campgrounds. Studies of unaccompanied youth have found that 20 to 50 percent Severe dysfunction in the home is also common. For example, over two-thirds of the youth reported that at least one parent abused drugs or alcohol. Many young people are not welcome in their homes due to their sexual orientation or identity, pregnancy, or other types of family conflict. 4/11/2017

13 Barriers to Education for Unaccompanied Youth
High mobility: 41% will attend at least two different schools; 28% will attend three or more Unaccompanied youth: lack of a parent or guardian to sign forms Lack of school records and other paperwork Lack of stable housing Emotional crisis / mental health issues Employment - need to balance school and work Lack of transportation Lack of school supplies, clothing Fatigue, poor health, hunger Credit accrual policies, attendance policies Concerns about being captured by authorities Low expectations by family, school Despite their dire circumstances, many unaccompanied youth remain committed to education. School may be the only safe, stable environment in their lives. These young people recognize the importance of an education and earnestly desire to attend and succeed in school. Delays in enrollment will not only negatively impact these young people’s academic achievement, but it may also deter them from remaining in school. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, the lack of a parent or legal guardian cannot delay the enrollment of an unaccompanied youth. Schools must immediately enroll homeless youth in school, even if they are “unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, 4/11/2017

14 Must schools ENROLL unaccompanied children and youth in school …
Without a parent or guardian? Yes! Without other enrollment documents, such as school records, immunizations, proof of residency, etc.? The McKinney-Vento Act requires immediate enrollment of homeless children and youth. Lack of a parent/guardian and/or enrollment documents cannot delay or prevent enrollment. School districts must eliminate barriers to youth’s enrollment in school. 4/11/2017

15 McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth? NO. This would create a barrier to enrollment and retention in school! Schools must enroll youth immediately. School is the safest and best place for youth. Educators are only mandated to report suspected abuse and/or neglect (homelessness alone generally is not abuse/neglect), and this reporting can be to child welfare If you have reason to suspect kidnapping, you can immediately see if the student has been reported missing at or THE-LOST. Florida does not require schools to report runaway youth.  State law determines the obligation of a McKinney-Vento liaison, school staff, or service provider to contact child protective services or law enforcement if they suspect abuse.  Regardless of such obligations, the McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll unaccompanied youth in school immediately.  Further, contacting the police when enrolling youth is likely to violate the Act's requirement that school districts and states eliminate barriers to enrollment and retention in school.    Based on these requirements, schools should exercise care and concern when contacting social services or law enforcement agencies.  Youths are unlikely to enroll in or attend school if they fear being taken into custody simply because they are unaccompanied.  While educators are required to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse, in many cases unaccompanied youth are in the care of an adult or otherwise out of immediate danger, and there is no reason to suspect abuse.  It is likely that state mandatory reporting laws would not require contacting police in such cases.  A state-by-state guide to mandatory reporting laws is available from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, at If school personnel have a reasonable suspicion of child abuse, liaisons should work with police and child protective services to keep the youth in school and to serve the student's best interest.  Where state law provides a choice, as most do, schools should contact social services rather than the police.  Child protective services agencies should have the training and facilities to respond more appropriately to such reports.  4/11/2017 McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act

16 A compelling look at homelessness from the eyes of experts—
My Own Four Walls LIFE FILLED WITH BENCHES (Ben and Chery share a glimpse of their lives on the streets A compelling look at homelessness from the eyes of experts— The kids who live it…

17 “My Own Four Walls Video”

18 Short background on how documentary was made
Diane Nilan was the director of a homeless shelter for years, watching as the problem of homelessness grew in the United States. Finally she sold her town house, moved into an RV, and began a cross-country trip to raise awareness and sensitivity to the near “invisible” problem of homeless families. Along the way, she videotaped children and young people who courageously agreed to share their stories about being homeless. With fifty hours of videotape and a dream to let children’s voices be heard, she found Dr. Laura Vazquez, a communication professor at Northern Illinois University. Together they created My Own Four Walls.

19 Was there anything that really struck you

20 Was there anything here new to you?

21 Few people know that they have the power
to bless life. We bless the life in each other far more than we realize. Many simple, ordinary things that we do can affect those around us in profound ways. Rachel Naomi Remen

22 Contact Information Laura Chiarello, Project Manager, Homeless Education Program Division of Student Services If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded Maya Angelou

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