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 NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education’s homeless education technical assistance and information center  NCHE has:  A comprehensive website: www.serve.org/nchewww.serve.org/nche.

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Presentation on theme: " NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education’s homeless education technical assistance and information center  NCHE has:  A comprehensive website: www.serve.org/nchewww.serve.org/nche."— Presentation transcript:

1  NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education’s homeless education technical assistance and information center  NCHE has:  A comprehensive website:  A toll-free helpline: Call or  A listserv: visit for subscription instructionswww.serve.org/nche/listserv.php  Free resources : Visit THE WEBINAR WILL BEGIN SHORTLY G ET TO K NOW NCHE…

2 S UPPORTING THE E DUCATION OF U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS National Center for Homeless Education

3 S ESSION O UTLINE  Who are unaccompanied homeless youth?  What are their educational rights?  How can school districts serve unaccompanied homeless students best?  Process scenarios  Group Q&A and discussion

4 W HO A RE U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS ?

5  2-step process 1.Does the student’s living arrangement meet the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homeless? 2.Once homelessness is determined, is the student unaccompanied?

6 S TEP 1: W HO IS H OMELESS ?  Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:  Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason (“doubling up”)  Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to the lack of adequate alternative accommodations  Living in emergency or transitional shelters

7  Awaiting foster care placement  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 a similar setting  Migratory children living in the above circumstances  Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances S TEP 1: W HO IS H OMELESS ?

8 S TEP 2: W HO IS UNACCOMPANIED ?  According to the McKinney-Vento Act, an unaccompanied homeless student is a child or youth “not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian”  The Act refers to physical custody, not legal custody; in practical terms, this usually means that the student is living apart from his/her parent(s) or guardian(s)

9 I S THERE AN A GE L IMIT ?  “Age limits”  Lower: There is no lower age limit for unaccompanied homeless youth  Upper: The upper age limit (as with all McKinney-Vento eligible students) is your state’s upper age limit for public education; this is usually 21, but is sometimes older for special education students

10 “B UT, THE STUDENT CHOSE TO LEAVE …”  A youth can be eligible regardless of whether he/she was asked to leave the home or “chose” to leave  Sometimes there is “more than meets the eye” for youth’s home life situations

11 W OULD Y OU ? If your family life was problematic, would you disclose this information in detail to a person you are just meeting? Unaccompanied homeless students and/or parents may or may not wish to discuss or feel comfortable sharing issues occurring in their home life.

12 T HE S CHOOL ’ S C HARGE  Schools first and foremost are educational agencies  The school’s primary responsibility and goal is to enroll and educate, in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act (federal); federal law supersedes state and local law  Schools do not need to understand and/or agree with all aspects of a student’s home life to educate him/her

13 U NDOCUMENTED STUDENTS  Plyler v. Doe: Undocumented students are eligible for McKinney-Vento services to the same extent as documented students; this would include undocumented unaccompanied homeless students

14 D EMOGRAPHICS Source: Homeless Youth in the United States: Recent Research Findings and Intervention Approaches,  Multiple studies estimate that 1+ million youth ages will become homeless unaccompanied homeless youth each year  There is a disproportionate representation of minority ethnic groups, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth, and pregnant/parenting teens  Generally homeless youth are 13 or older, but they can be younger

15 P ATHS TO B EING “O N Y OUR O WN ”  Longstanding patterns of family conflict, blended family issues, abuse and/or neglect within the home  Parental incarceration, substance abuse, illness, hospitalization, or death  Pregnancy, sexual activity, sexual orientation, gender identity, school problems, alcohol/drug use

16 P ATHS TO B EING “O N Y OUR O WN ” ( CONT )  Foster care issues: running away from a foster care placement, aging out of the foster care system; significant correlation between involvement with the child welfare system and experiencing homelessness as an adult  Some students 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

17 S CENARIO Jeremy, a senior in high school, shows up at your school by himself wanting to enroll. He says he left home because his stepdad is a jerk and he can’t stand living with him anymore. He is currently living with his grandmother, but isn’t sure if he can stay long.  Is Jeremy homeless?  Is Jeremy unaccompanied?  Other questions?

18 T HE L AW : E DUCATIONAL AND O THER P ROVISIONS FOR U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS

19 B ARRIERS TO E DUCATION  Lack of stable housing (affects access to bathing facilities, laundry facilities, etc.)  Lack of a parent or guardian (support, guidance, signing, etc.)  Lack of school records and other paperwork  Emotional crisis / Mental health issues  Employment: Many are self-supporting and have to balance school and work

20 B ARRIERS TO E DUCATION ( CONT )  Lack of transportation  Lack of school supplies, clothing  Fatigue, poor health, hunger (difficulty meeting basic needs)  Credit accrual policies, attendance policies  Concerns about being apprehended by authorities

21 R IGHTS FOR A LL H OMELESS S TUDENTS  Immediate enrollment, even if lacking paperwork normally required  School selection: Eligible students can attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, according to the student’s best interest  Transportation to/from the school of origin  Comparable services, including transportation

22 R IGHTS FOR A LL H OMELESS S TUDENTS ( CONT )  Access to educational programs for which they are eligible (Title IA, IDEA, ELL, migrant education, vocational/technical education, gifted and talented, etc.)  Free school meals (USDA’s Child Nutrition Act)

23 S PECIFIC M-V P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS  Enrollment without proof of guardianship  Assistance from the local liaison in selecting a school of attendance and enrolling  Assistance from the local liaison in receiving transportation to the school of origin  Can initiate the dispute resolution process for himself/herself  Assistance from the local liaison in resolving any disputes that arise  Student receives written notice in disputes

24 S PECIFIC M-V P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS ( CONT )  McKinney-Vento subgrant application consideration: the extent to which case management or related services will be provided to unaccompanied homeless students  Authorized use of subgrant funds: “The provision of services and assistance to attract, engage, and retain homeless children and youths, and unaccompanied homeless youths, in public school programs and services provided to nonhomeless children and youths”

25 S PECIFIC IDEA P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS  Surrogate Parents  SEA “must make reasonable efforts” to appoint within 30 days  Are considered the unaccompanied homeless youth’s parent for special education purposes  Cannot be an employee of the SEA, LEA, or any other agency involved in the education or care of the child  Must have no personal or professional interests in conflict with the interest of the child  Must have the necessary knowledge and skills

26 S PECIFIC IDEA P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS ( CONT )  Temporary Surrogate Parents  Appointed immediately  Staff of shelters, independent living programs, and street outreach programs, and qualified school personnel (including local liaisons) that are involved in the education or care of the child may be appointed as temporary surrogate parents  Must have no personal or professional interests in conflict with the interest of the child  Must have the necessary knowledge and skills  Rights transfer to the student upon the student reaching the age of majority

27 S PECIFIC CCRAA P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS  According to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA), unaccompanied homeless youth, as determined by a local liaison, HUD or RHYA shelter worker, or college Financial Aid Administrator (FAA), can apply for federal financial aid as independent students using the FAFSA  Independent students don’t need a parent/guardian signature on the FAFSA and are awarded aid without consideration for parent/guardian income

28 S PECIFIC CCRAA P ROVISIONS ON U NACCOMPANIED H OMELESS S TUDENTS  Visit for more information on the FAFSA and additional supports (SAT/ACT fee waivers, GEAR UP, TRIO, etc.)www.serve.org/nche/ibt/higher_ed.php

29 “O THER S TUFF ”  Consider state-specific issues: Reporting, medical consent, etc.  FERPA: Parental consent is not required for transfer of records to an enrolling school  General liability concerns: The relationship between liability and negligence

30 S CENARIO Remember Jeremy? He couldn’t get along with his stepfather and is living temporarily with his grandmother. Two days after your school enrolled him, his mom calls insisting that the school force Jeremy to come home and threatens to sue the school if you don’t disenroll Jeremy immediately.  Would you disenroll Jeremy?  How would you respond?  Other questions?

31 S TRATEGIES FOR IDENTIFYING, ENROLLING, AND ENGAGING UNACCOMPANIED HOMELESS STUDENTS

32 I DENTIFICATION S TRATEGIES  Provide awareness activities for school staff (registrars, secretaries, counselors, social workers, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, administrators, truancy and attendance officers, security officers, etc.) about the specific needs of runaway and homeless youth  Develop relationships with dropout prevention programs, truancy officials, and other attendance officers. Many unaccompanied homeless youth are out of school!

33 I DENTIFICATION S TRATEGIES ( CONT )  Community agencies and schools can work together in identifying eligible students; reach out to community agencies and ask them to be your “eyes and ears” in the community to support school efforts to reach unaccompanied homeless students  Enlist other students to help spread the word  Post outreach materials where unaccompanied homeless students may “hang out”, including laundromats, parks, campgrounds, skate parks, clubs/organizations

34 I DENTIFICATION S TRATEGIES ( CONT )  NCHE youth outreach materials:  Youth educational rights poster (K-12): ster.php ster.php  Higher education poster: oster.php oster.php  Surviving on Youth Own youth booklet: _booklet.php _booklet.php

35 B UILD TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS  Be sensitive, honest, and trustworthy  Inform students up-front about the circumstances under which you may be required to report them to child welfare or law enforcement  Keep in mind the challenges that unaccompanied homeless students are facing as you work with them and provide support as you are able  Encourage unaccompanied homeless students to stay in school; support them and advocate for them in getting their education

36 E NROLLMENT S TRATEGIES  US ED Guidance: “Develop caregiver affidavits, enrollment forms for unaccompanied homeless youth, and other forms to replace typical proof of guardianship. Again, such forms should be carefully crafted so they do not create further barriers or delay enrollment” July 2004 Policy Guidance, Question G-8

37 E NROLLMENT S TRATEGIES ( CONT )  Three common methods for enrolling unaccompanied homeless students  The student enrolls himself/herself  A caregiver enrolls the student (see app_d.pdf for sample enrollment forms) app_d.pdf  The local liaison enrolls the student

38 E NROLLMENT R EMINDERS  A school district can not require a caregiver to obtain legal guardianship at any point prior to or following an unaccompanied homeless student’s enrollment  A school district can not discontinue a student’s enrollment due to an inability to identify a caregiver, guardian, or parent following enrollment or to produce guardianship or other paperwork

39 P ARTICIPATION IN E XTRA - CURRICULAR A CTIVITIES  McKinney-Vento defines enrollment as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities”; this includes extra-curricular activities offered through the school  McKinney-Vento charges SEAs and LEAs to develop, review, and revise policies to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless children and youths in schools; to accomplish this, program fees and deadlines can be waived (sample policy from Delaware can be found at

40 P ARTICIPATION IN E XTRA - CURRICULAR A CTIVITIES ( CONT )  McKinney-Vento subgrant funds can be used to assist with program fees, if needed  States have implemented a variety of policies regarding signing/decision-making for unaccompanied homeless youth to participate in school activities  Youth sign for themselves  Local liaison signs for the youth  Caregiver signs for the youth

41  Provide access to diversified learning opportunities (vocational education, credit-for-work programs, flexible school hours, etc.) yet don’t assume youth will need or desire this option  Provide before- or after-school support  Permit exceptions to school policies on class schedules, tardiness, absences and credits to accommodate the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth  Assist with credit accrual and recovery (chunking credits, partial credits, flexible school hours, etc.)  Provide access to a “safe place” and trained mentor at school E DUCATIONAL S UPPORT

42 F OR MORE INFORMATION State Coordinator for Homeless Education: NCHE website: NCHE helpline: or NCHE National Partner: National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY):


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