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Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth: Financial Aid Outreach Strategies 2009 Fall Conference Follow the STARs November 1 – 4, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth: Financial Aid Outreach Strategies 2009 Fall Conference Follow the STARs November 1 – 4, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth: Financial Aid Outreach Strategies 2009 Fall Conference Follow the STARs November 1 – 4, 2009

2 Topics for Today Awareness of homelessness Barriers to education caused by homelessness Overview of the McKinney-Vento Act and definition of homeless Awareness of unaccompanied youth Ways higher education institutions can assist with access and success

3 Causes of Homelessness Lack of affordable housing Poverty - mean income is 46% of poverty Health problems Domestic violence Natural and other disasters Abuse/neglect/abandonment (unaccompanied youth)

4 How Many Children and Youth Experience Homelessness? 10% of all children living in poverty million youth run away each year Over 40% of all children who are homeless are under the age of 5 Nationwide, 794,617 homeless students enrolled in public schools in the school year - 17% increase over previous year Total for North Carolina in : 16,937 – 25% increase

5 What Works in Defeating Homelessness? EDUCATION!

6 Barriers to Education Enrollment requirements (school records, health records, proof of residence and guardianship) High mobility resulting in lack of school stability and educational continuity Lack of transportation Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc. Poor health, fatigue, hunger, anxiety/trauma Invisibility (lack of awareness) Prejudice and misunderstanding

7 Barriers to Education for Unaccompanied Youth Lack of adult/guardian Housing challenges Basic needs Juggling school and employment Falling behind in school due to mobility School attendance and credit accrual policies Concerns of capture by authorities

8 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Reauthorized 2002 by No Child Left Behind - Title X, Part C Main themes: School stability School Access Support for academic success Child-centered, best interest decision-making

9 Who is Covered in McKinney-Vento 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 [65% of identified students nationwide] Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations[Motels: 7% of identified students nationwide] Living in emergency or transitional shelters [21% of identified students nationwide]

10 Eligibility, cont’d Awaiting foster care placement (not defined in law; state and local interpretations vary) 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

11 Definition: Why So Broad? Shelters are often full; shelters may turn families and youth away, or put them on waiting lists Shelters do not exist in many suburban and rural areas 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 expensive Youth on their own may fear adult shelters Shelters often have 30, 60, or 90 day time limits Families/youth may be unaware of alternatives, fleeing in crisis, living in over-crowded, temporary, and sometimes unsafe environments

12 Determining Eligibility Eligibility Case-by-case determination Case-by-case determination Get as much information as possible (without intimidating the parent or youth) Get as much information as possible (without intimidating the parent or youth) Look at the McKinney-Vento definition (specific examples in the definition first, then overall definition) Look at the McKinney-Vento definition (specific examples in the definition first, then overall definition) NCHE’s Determining Eligibility brief is available at

13 McKinney-Vento Personnel Every Local Education Agency – LEA - (school district) must designate a liaison for students in homeless situations Every Local Education Agency – LEA - (school district) must designate a liaison for students in homeless situations Responsibilities: Responsibilities: – Ensure that children and youth in homeless situations are identified through school and community – Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school – Make referrals for health, mental health, and other services, and ensure that homeless children receive Head Start and preschool programs administered by school districts

14 Homeless Liaisons Inform parents, guardians, or youth of educational and parent involvement opportunities Inform parents, guardians, or youth of educational and parent involvement opportunities Post public notice of educational rights Post public notice of educational rights Resolve disputes Resolve disputes Collaborate and coordinate with community and school personnel Collaborate and coordinate with community and school personnel Assist homeless students in accessing higher education resources including assessment tests, admissions applications, and financial aid Assist homeless students in accessing higher education resources including assessment tests, admissions applications, and financial aid

15 Contacting Homeless Liaisons How do I contact homeless liaisons? Contact the Office of State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. Most State Coordinators maintain updated lists of all liaisons (often on the State Department of Education web site). See for a list of all state coordinators

16 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. Why aren’t these youth at home? Studies have found that 20 to 50 percent of unaccompanied youth were sexually abused in their homes, while 40 to 60 percent were physically abused. Over two-thirds of callers to Runaway Hotline report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol.

17 Barriers to Higher Education Sporadic school attendance due to lack of housing, clothing, and other basic necessities Unawareness of SAT/ACT fee waivers Lack of support to attend admissions/financial aid programs Lack of college access information in shelters, foster homes, social service departments, etc.

18 Barriers to Higher Education Unmet basic needs ◦ Safety, nutrition, health care, transportation No access to parental/guardian financial information Shame in sharing details of their lives Unaware of homeless definition and accompanying rights/services Unaware of professional judgment providing independent status Lack of living arrangements during school breaks

19 Federal Financial Aid Youth who meet the definition of “independent student” can apply for federal aid without parental income information or signature. Unaccompanied youth are automatically considered independent students. ◦ Must be verified as unaccompanied and homeless during the school year when 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.

20 College Cost Reduction and Access Act Expands the definition of independent student: -Unaccompanied and Homeless youth -Youth who are in foster care at any time after the age of 13 or older -Youth who are emancipated minors or are in legal guardianships as determined by an appropriate court in the individual’s state of residence

21 Verification 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 ◦ a financial aid administrator Youth in foster care and those who aged out of foster care are also automatically considered independent students. Youth who have been in foster care at any time after age 13 will automatically be considered independent students as of July 1, Sample verification template at

22 Being Denied Aid No verification from homeless liaison ◦Was not identified in high school ◦Became homeless after high school No advocacy in higher education ◦Gaps in regulations and explanations No understanding of “determination” ◦FAFSA questions limited ◦Instructions broader, but confusing Requested to provide confirmation of abuse Suspicions of misrepresentation in order to obtain aid

23 Ways to Fill the Gaps Get the information out to college access and social services Work with ACT/SAT to provide waiver information outside of high schools Provide Webinar trainings for financial aid administrators on homeless population Train homeless liaisons and shelter staff on basic college access and financial aid resources Provide information to unaccompanied youth

24 Proposal Establish a North Carolina Task Force to address college access and success for homeless students Create a network of higher education professionals Identify the gaps in current federal regulations Provide resources and training to all parties Influence policy to create a pipeline of higher education services Create a single point of contact in every college for homeless students for access and completion

25 Discussion Where are the areas of conflict? Concerns when faced with determining homeless/unaccompanied youth status How should they be addressed? What has worked well on your campus? What information/resources would be helpful? What do you see as next steps?

26 Presenters Diana Bowman ◦Director ◦National Center for Homeless Education ◦ ◦http://www.serve.org /nchehttp://www.serve.org /nche Marcia Weston ◦Director ◦College Goal Sunday Operations ◦


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