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1 Public Justice Center Baltimore Outreach Services.

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1 1 Public Justice Center Baltimore Outreach Services

2 Agenda A New Focus on Education: How Shelters Can Meet Their Obligations Under the HEARTH Act The Baltimore Experience Facilitating Shelter-Based Education Advocacy in Your Community 2

3 A New Focus on Education: How Shelters Can Meet their Obligations Under the HEARTH Act 3

4 4 HEARTH Act HEARTH Act 42 U.S.C. 11386 et seq. Shelters must  Demonstrate that their policies are consistent with McKinney- Vento and do not restrict exercise of McKinney-Vento rights  Designate a staff person to assist homeless children and youth connect with school, early education, special education etc. Gov’t agencies which oversee/place families in shelters must  Demonstrate that they are coordinating with local school systems to identify homeless children/youth and inform them about McKinney-Vento  Consider the educational needs of homeless children, including placing them in shelters close to school of origin to reduce travel

5 5 How can shelters meet the HEARTH education requirements? Assess education needs at intake  Are children enrolled in and attending school or an early education program? Which school(s)? Are they in any special programs, such as special education, ELL programs? If not in school, how long have they been out of school? Inform families of education rights and options  Inform family of right to continue at school attended prior to moving into shelter with transportation or enroll in local school; right to enroll immediately even without all documents; right to receive a uniform, fee waivers and other supports; right to dispute decisions  Tell families about local schools, early education programs

6 6 How can shelters meet the HEARTH education requirements? Assist discussion regarding school selection  To facilitate parent’s consideration of whether home school or local school would meet child’s needs, consider: Age of child? Child’s experiences at home school? Time in school year? Expected location of permanent housing? School siblings attend? Child’s academic, emotional, other needs? Distance? Connect families with schools/education programs  Ensure that family has contact with school-based or districtwide homeless education liaison promptly after arrival at shelter  Ensure children are in school promptly after arrival at shelter  Facilitate visits by school district homeless education staff and other supportive staff (e.g. tutors) to shelter

7 7 How can shelters meet the HEARTH education requirements? Advocate for enrollment and access to services  If families experience delays with enrollment or access to services (e.g. transport, meals, special ed, records transfer, uniforms), contact homeless liaison or other school staff  Attend IEP meetings and other school meetings  Seek assistance from outside advocates where needed  Document efforts Help families to self-advocate  Help parents prepare for school meetings  Remind parents to document their own concerns and efforts to address them  Help parents to keep track of children’s records

8 8 How can shelters meet the HEARTH education requirements? Collaborate with school districts around provision of supportive services  Work with school districts around most streamlined process for requesting transportation, especially prior to start of school year  Facilitate school district operation of tutoring programs at shelters, distribution of supplies and uniforms etc. Monitor attendance and achievement  If child is not attending regularly, inquire with family and identify possible needs, and reconnect parent with school-based or districtwide liaison  Include children’s school performance as part of case management discussion with parent, and reconnect parent with school-based or districtwide liaison for supports if necessary

9 9 How can shelters meet the HEARTH education requirements? Ensure shelter policies do not create barriers to education  For example, make sure that curfew or required on-site programming does not keep child from attending afterschool Support unaccompanied youth applying to college  Certify youthas homeless/unaccompanied so that he or she can apply for college financial aid as an independent (RHY shelters) Discuss education as part of exit planning  Remind family of McKinney-Vento and related rights, incl. child’s right to remain at same school with transportation through end of school year in which family obtains permanent housing

10 The Baltimore Experience 10

11 Convening the Coalition Worked with Continuum of Care to identify education liaisons at family shelters, as well as other providers who work with homeless families and children Several family shelters receive additional foundation funding for their education liaisons Public Justice Center and Homeless Persons Representation Project served as trainers/facilitators 11

12 Building Institutional Capacity Bi-monthly meetings to receive training, discuss individual and systematic successes and challenges, and exchange best practices Development of practice materials PJC is a resource for particularly challenging scenarios Training/discussion topics include:  McKinney-Vento basics  IDEA, Parts A and B  IDEA, Part C  School discipline  Strategies for parent empowerment and self-advocacy  School system policies and practice 12

13 Future Goals Systemized strategies for tracking impact of shelter- based advocacy on children’s attendance and education outcomes, and parent involvement Expansion of tutoring and enrichment programs Additional funding to support all shelters with their education work Expansion to include RHYA shelters, others serving homeless children and youth Strategies for ongoing communication with key school system staff Improved connection with early education programs 13

14 Facilitating Shelter- Based Advocacy in Your Community 14

15 Needs Assessment Who should participate?  Family shelters  Runaway and Homeless Youth Act shelters  Adult shelters housing 18 year old unaccompanied homeless youth  Local departments of social services  Others who work with homeless families and children  School system staff Who can facilitate?  Continuum of Care  Local advocates for homeless students 15

16 Needs Assessment (cont'd) Who can train?  Special education advocates  Early education providers  Parent groups  Legal advocacy organizations  Higher education experts  School system staff Who can support the work?  Continuum of Care  Local funders What are the challenges?  Time/availability/conflicting schedules between programs  Inadequate staffing within programs to focus on clients’ education needs  Lack of training expertise on certain issues 16

17 Resources Public Justice Center, Monisha Cherayil – 410-625- 9409 x. 234, Baltimore Outreach Services, Pam Poolson – 410- 752-1285, 17

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