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1 Serving Unaccompanied Youth: Removing Educational Barriers and Expanding Opportunities WebEx Training Tennessee Department of Education and National.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Serving Unaccompanied Youth: Removing Educational Barriers and Expanding Opportunities WebEx Training Tennessee Department of Education and National."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Serving Unaccompanied Youth: Removing Educational Barriers and Expanding Opportunities WebEx Training Tennessee Department of Education and National Center for Homeless Education January 17, 2008 Christie Lentz/Karen Munn, Homeless Education, Office of Federal Programs, TDOE Lesley Farmer, Director, Office of Civil Rights, TDOE Diana Bowman, Director, NCHE

2 2 Overview of the Training The training will cover the following topics: Overview of the McKinney-Vento Act as it pertains to unaccompanied youth Enrollment issues Decision making and signature authority Educational support Strategies for a coordinated approach Resources

3 3 McKinney-Vento: Key Provisions Definition of unaccompanied youth: youth in homeless situations– no fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian

4 4 Unaccompanied Youth Data for Tennessee School Year Number of Unaccompanied Youth served by LEAs with subgrants No data on UY collected from LEAs without subgrants School Year *Number of Unaccompanied Youth served by LEAs with subgrants* No data on UY collected from LEAs without subgrants *Includes Katrina/Rita displaced students SourceCSPR (collected online at CREP)

5 5 Is there an age limit on serving secondary students? MV applies to all school-aged children and youth (as defined by state law). Tennessee Definition of Emancipation of minor - TCA § – any minor who is or has been married, or has by court order or otherwise been freed from the care, custody and control of the minors parents. Age of emancipation – 18 years old, See TCA § IDEA requires that students receiving special education services be served up to age 22.

6 6 Effects of Emancipation on School Attendance TN Atty. Gen. Opinion – OAG Complete emancipation relieves a minor of compulsory school attendance requirements. According to the Tennessee Attorney General, While the compulsory education statutes do not address the impact of emancipation, we conclude that the answer is provided by Chapter 31 of Title 29, Removal of Disabilities of Minors.

7 7 Examples of Possible UY Scenarios Youth that was asked to leave home by a parent Youth that left home with the consent of a parent Youth that has been forced to leave home by parent(s), may have run away Youth that has chosen to leave home to live with a boyfriend (girlfriend) Immigrant youthparents deported or parents send children here to live Youth whose parent(s) are in jail, in the hospital, etc.

8 8 Educational Rights under McKinney-Vento Remain in the school of origin (to the extent feasible) Transportation to the school of origin Immediate enrollment Access to programs and services

9 9 Local Homeless Education Liaison Duties Helping unaccompanied youth enroll in and select school Informing them of rights to transportation to the school of origin and assisting with arranging Informing them of right to appeal school selection decisions counter to their wishes Informing school personnel of requirements of the law and needs of youth

10 10 Must schools enroll youth in school if there is no proof of guardianship? Yes. Lack of guardianship papers cannot delay or prevent enrollment. School districts may establish their own policies to meet this mandate. Examples: Permit the youth to enroll himself or herself The local liaison handles enrollment The school district uses a caregiver form to allow adult caregivers to enroll youth. (Not a substitute for power of attorney.)

11 11 Power of Attorney-TCA Hardships serious illness or incarceration of parent physical/mental condition of parent or child is such that care/supervision of child cannot be given; or loss or unhabitability of childs home as a result of a natural disaster Although other is usually on POA forms, TN law states that an LEA is not required to enroll a student unless they fall within one of the 3 hardships specifically listed. Other circumstances are determined on a case-by-case basis. Factors are listed at TCA §

12 12 Power of Attorney In order to be useful, the POA, can (and should) be specific about what is and is not covered.

13 13 Caregiver Form--available at NCHE at and Caregiver Authorization Form This form is intended to address the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L ) requirement that homeless children have access to education and other services for which they are eligible. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act states specifically that barriers to enrollment must be removed. In some cases, a child or youth who is homeless may not be able to reside with his/her parent or guardian; however, this fact does not nullify the childs/youths right to receive a free, appropriate public education. Instructions: Complete this form for a child/youth presenting himself/herself for enrollment while not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. To authorize the enrollment in school of a minor, complete items 1 through 4 and sign the form. To authorize the enrollment and school-related medical care of a minor, complete all items and sign the form.

14 14 Caregiver Authorization Form Contd. I am 18 years of age or older and have agreed to fulfill the role of caregiver for the minor named below. 1. Name of minor: ______________________________________________________________ 2. Minors date of birth: ____________________________________________________________ 3. My name (adult giving authorization): ______________________________________________ 4. My home address: _____________________________________________________________ 5. Check one or both (for example, if one parent was advised and the other could not be located): ____ I have advised the parent(s) or other person(s) having legal custody of the minor as to my intent to authorize medical care and have received no objection. ____I am unable to contact the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) at this time to notify them of my intended authorization. 6. My date of birth: _______________________________________________________________ 7. My state drivers license or identification card number: _________________________________ I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of this state that the foregoing information is true and correct. Signature: _________________________________________ Date: _______________________ Adapted from materials produced by the California Department of Education. As with any legal document, the local educational agencys legal counsel should be consulted.

15 15 Can a school require a caregiver to get legal guardianship or power of attorney to enroll a student in school? No, school districts must enroll youth in school even if they do not have guardianship documents or POA papers/documents. The decision to seek legal guardianship or power of attorney does not impact whether or not a school should enroll a youth.

16 16 Do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth? State law determines the obligation of a school liaison or service provider to alert other agencies about unaccompanied youth. Tennessee There is no set TN law making this requirement. Any instances of child neglect must be reported to DCS – See TCA

17 17 Do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth? Contd. Most state laws that address this issue permit, but do not require, schools to report runaway youth; many laws also give schools the option to contact social services instead of the police. Schools must enroll youth immediately. The school district should work with police and social services regarding mandatory reporting to ensure that care is exercised to keep a youth in school and serve his/her best interest.

18 18 Do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth? Contd. Tennessee Definition of Runaway – TCA § (2) – any person under eighteen (18) years of age who is away from the home or residence of such persons parents without such parents or guardians consent. Runaway does not include persons under eighteen (18) years of age who lawfully reside with a close relative or those attending educational institutions, or those placed by court order, on a contractual agreement with a parent or guardian. Sanctuary – TCA § – means a house, institution or other organization providing housing or accommodations to runaways. In Tennessee any runaway that is seeking sanctuary may be given shelter for 72 hours, provided that a good faith attempt is made to notify the juvenile court with jurisdiction in the county, in which the runaway house is located, or the runaways parent or guardian, of the runaways location within 1 hour of the runaways arrival. See TCA §

19 19 What if an unaccompanied youth has been suspended for misbehavior from his/her former school? Must the school enroll this student? The McKinney-Vento Act does not overrule state or local discipline policies. If a youth is suspended for behavior unrelated to his or her homelessness, regular enrollment procedures apply. If discipline action was taken against a youth for reasons related to homelessness (for example, excessive absences caused by homelessness), the youth should not be penalized or denied enrollment and the policy should be revised.

20 20 Rule of Thumb regarding Discipline It is always important to assess the reasons for a youths behavior to determine Additional supports that might be needed (i.e. counseling or other supportive services) Potential need for special education services.

21 21 Who can make decisions for an unaccompanied youth regarding participation in extra curricular activities, field trips, etc.? States and school districts have implemented a variety of policies and procedures: Youth make decisions on their own; Local liaison makes decisions; Caregiver forms allow other adults to make decisions. Tennessee There is not a Tennessee State law regarding this issue. Look to federal guidelines*; may be able to use caregiver forms. Reminder: Federal Law*Homeless UY must be able to participate fully in school activities.

22 22 Can unaccompanied youth participate on sports teams in regards to requirements for living in the district for a certain amount of time? The Supreme Court has ruled that athletic associations are state actors. Federal and state laws apply. Athletic associations cannot enforce policies that pose barriers to participation or stigmatize students on the basis of their homelessness.

23 23 Who can make decisions related to special education for an unaccompanied youth? IDEA requires LEAs to appoint surrogate parents when appropriate. IDEA regulations state that LEAs must appoint temporary surrogate parents for unaccompanied youth when needed; Congress specified that these may include staff members of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs and outreach programs.

24 24 What about school liability or parental disapproval? Liability is based on the concept of negligenceschools are not being negligent when they follow federal law.

25 25 Can unaccompanied youth consent to their own medical treatment? Generally, only persons age 18 and over can consent to their own medical, dental, and health care; minors need consent of a parent or guardian. Many exceptions exist to this general rule; many state and local statutes exist.

26 26 Can unaccompanied youth consent to their own medical treatment? Contd. Tennessee--Non-Emergency Tennessee does not have a statute on this issue; however, there is case law which states that if the youth is considered as a mature minor, parental consent is not needed. Cardwell v. Bechtol, 724 S.W.2d 739 (Tenn. 1987). To determine the maturity of a minor, the Court used the common law Rule of Sevens: under the age of 7 – there is no capacity to consent; between ages 7-14 – there is a rebuttable presumption of no capacity to consent; and over the age of 14 – there is a rebuttable presumption of capacity to consent.

27 27 Can unaccompanied youth consent to their own medical treatment? Contd. Drug Abusers – TCA § – Physicians may treat juvenile drug abusers without prior parental consent. The physician may use discretion in determining whether to notify parent of treatment. Prenatal Care – TCA § – Physician can provide prenatal care, examine, diagnose, and treat a minor without the knowledge or consent of the parent/guardian. Immunizations – Tennessee does not have a specific law re: consent to unaccompanied youth, just states look to federal law, including McKinney-Vento – TCA § (b)(3).

28 28 What if an unaccompanied youth is injured in school? How will the student receive medical care without a parent to sign? Will the school be liable? In a medical emergency, medical professionals should be familiar with rules to treat minors and will respond appropriately. The school will be protected from liability by exercising reasonable care in responding to a medical emergencyessentially, this is the same standard that applies to youth who are not unaccompanied. Most states do not require parental consent for emergency care. Tennessee--Emergency Medical Treatment TCA § – physician can treat minor without parental consent when there is a good faith belief that the delay in rendering emergency care would, to a reasonable degree of certainty, result in a serious threat to the life of the minor or such emergency treatment is necessary to save the minors life or prevent further deterioration of the minors condition. Such treatment shall be commenced only after a reasonable effort is made to notify the minors parent(s)/guardian(s).

29 29 Can unaccompanied youth apply for federal financial aid (through Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FAFSA]) without providing information about their parents income and their parents signature? Under the Higher Education Act, youth who meet the definition of independent student can apply for federal aid without parental information or signature A financial aid administrator at a college can also designate a student as independent due to other unusual circumstances. In September of 2007, President Bush signed into law the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (P.L ). Included within this legislation are amendments to expand the definition of independent student in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to include: (1) unaccompanied homeless youth; (2) youth who are in foster care at any time after the age of 13 or older, and; (3) youth who are emancipated minors or are in legal guardianships as determined by an appropriate court in the individual's state of residence.

30 30 Can unaccompanied youth apply for federal financial aid (through Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FAFSA]) without providing information about their parents income and their parents signature? Contd. The legislation allows youth to be considered independent students if they are verified as unaccompanied and homeless during the school year in which the application is submitted, or as unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting. Verification must be made by one of the following: (1) a McKinney-Vento Act school district liaison; (2) a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development homeless assistance program director or their designee; (3) a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program director or their designee, or; (4) a financial aid administrator. The law thus helps to remove barriers to accessing financial aid for unaccompanied youth in the year in which they experienced homelessness, and in subsequent years, provided they are still unaccompanied, self-supporting, and at risk of homelessness. The changes to the definition of independent student in the College Cost Reduction and Access Act do not go into effect until July 1, The reason for this effective date is that these provisions were included in a part of the bill that impacts mandatory spending. Funding is provided, but does not become available until the fiscal year starting July 1, More information about assisting Unaccompanied Youth access college financial aid, including What Can Liaisons and Service Providers Do Now to Assist Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, is located at

31 31 Can an unaccompanied youth enroll in Job Corps without parental approval? Federal Job Corps policy requires the signature of a parent or guardian. Job Corps programs can waive the requirement for youth who have no parent or guardian, cannot locate parent or guardian, are legally emancipated, have parents who do not object to participation advocates can use this to assist unaccompanied youth to enroll without parent signature.

32 32 What obligation does a school have to help unaccompanied youth make up lost credits? Many youth lose credits due to mobility and absencesconsequences of homelessness. MV requires that schools and districts remove barriers to enrollment and retention and provide academic supportLEA policies should be revised. Youth should be provided academic support through tutoring, programs with cooperating universities, or online courses, for example; appropriate use of Title I set-aside funds.

33 33 Should unaccompanied youth be encouraged to enroll in GED programs or alternative schools? Youth should have the opportunity to be part of the mainstream school environment, including extra curricular activities. Diversified learning opportunities, when appropriate, include vocational education, credit-for-work programs, and flexible school hours.

34 34 Should unaccompanied youth be encouraged to enroll in GED programs or alternative schools? Contd. TNLEA has the authority under statute for school assignment. Youth must be given information about right to appeal assignment.

35 35 Tips for a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth Involve school counselors and/or social services early to determine if problems in the family can be worked out and, if not, make referrals for youth to ensure his/her basic needs are met. Review policies regarding unaccompanied youth. Create a task force that includes representatives from the LEA, social services, child welfare, juvenile justice, law enforcement, youth shelters, etc., to review and revise policies and to establish agreed upon procedures. Provide information to staff at all schools to ensure all are aware of McKinney-Vento rights and procedures and policies that facilitate enrollment and academic success. Keep the needs of the youth central to the decision making process.

36 36 Resources about Unaccompanied Youth NCHE Resources on this topic, including several briefs, booklet for youth, etc. National Law Center on Homelessness & Povertys Legal Tools To End Youth Homelessness Coming soon--NAEHCY publication "Using What We Know: Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Youthis in editing status This document, the result of interviews with over 100 NAEHCY members, discusses the policy changes and practical strategies that are necessary for unaccompanied youth to reach their educational and professional goals.

37 37 For additional questions and help, contact: Christie Lentz, , Karen Munn, , ( html html Lesley Farmer, , ( Diana Bowman, , (

38 38 For additional questions and help, contact: Barbara Duffield, Patricia Julianelle, Eric Tars, (

39 39 We wish to give credit to the following persons, as well as to express our appreciation to them, for allowing us to use their audio training presentation which we adapted for Tennessee. National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth National Center for Homeless Education Joy Moses Barbara Duffield Patricia Julianelle Diana Bowman

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