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Overview of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

“…Through it all, school is probably the only thing that has kept me going. I know that every day that I walk in those doors, I can stop thinking about my problems for the next six hours and concentrate on what is most important to me. Without the support of my school system, I would not be as well off as I am today. School keeps me motivated to move on, and encourages me to find a better life for myself.”

Carrie, 2002 LeTendre Scholar

How many children and youth experience homelessness?

• 10% of all children living in poverty over the course of a year • 7% of all fifth graders have lived in a shelter or car (11% for low-income and African American) • 1.6-1.7 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 2007-08 school year 17% increase over previous year • 11,783 enrolled in schools in PA 2007-08 (includes preschool children) NAEHCY •


Causes of Homelessness • Lack of affordable housing • Poverty • Health problems • Domestic violence • Natural and other disasters • Abuse/neglect (unaccompanied youth) NAEHCY • 3

Barriers to Education for Homeless Children and Youth • Enrollment requirements (school records, health records, proof of residence and guardianship) • High mobility resulting in lack of school stability and educational continuity • Lack of access to programs • Lack of transportation • Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc.

• Poor health, fatigue, hunger • Prejudice and misunderstanding NAEHCY • 4

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act • Reauthorized 2002 by NCLB • Main themes: • School stability • School access • Support for academic success • Child-centered, best interest decision making NAEHCY •

Eligibility —Who is Covered?

• 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 [39% of identified students in PA; 65% nationally] • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations [Motels: 53% of identified students in PA; 7% nationally] • Living in emergency or transitional shelters [53% of identified students in PA; 5% nationally] NAEHCY •

Eligibility — Who is Covered? (cont.) • 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 similar settings • Migratory children living in above circumstances NCHE • • NAEHCY • • NLCHP •


Eligibility — Awaiting Foster Care Placement PDE Board of Education Circular; Awaiting Foster Care Placement includes: •those who live in shelters or are placed in emergency, interim or respite foster care;kinship care; evaluation or diagnostic centers or placements for the sole purpose of evaluation. •Local school officials should consult with their county children and youth agencies whenever necessary to determine if a child meets the definition of awaiting foster care placement, including, on a case-by-case basis, whether a child who does not clearly fall into one of these categories is nevertheless a child awaiting foster care placement NCHE • • NAEHCY • • NLCHP •


McKinney-Vento 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

Determining Eligibility Eligibility • Case-by-case determination • Get as much information as possible (without intimidating the parent or youth) • Look at the MV definition (specific examples in the definition first, then overall definition)

NCHE’s Determining Eligibility brief is available at .pdf


Local Homeless Education Liaisons • Every LEA must designate a liaison for students in homeless situations.

• Responsibilities • Ensure that children and youth in homeless situations are identified • Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school • Link with educational services, including preschool and health services • Resolve disputes and assist with transportation NAEHCY • 11

Identification Strategies • Provide awareness activities for school staff (registrars, secretaries, counselors, nurses, teachers, tutors, drop out prevention specialists, administrators, etc.).

• Coordinate with community service agencies, such as shelters, soup kitchens, public assistance and housing agencies, and public health departments.

• Provide outreach materials and posters where there is a frequent influx of low-income families and youth in high-risk situations, including motels, campgrounds, libraries, youth centers.


Identification Strategies (cont.) • Make special efforts to identify preschool children, including asking about the siblings of school-aged children.

• Develop relationships with truancy officials and/or other attendance officers.

• Use enrollment and withdrawal forms to inquire about living situations.

• Enlist youth to spread the word.

• Avoid using the word "homeless" in initial contacts with school personnel, families, or youth.



School Stability — Key Provisions • Students can stay in their school of origin for the duration of homeless and until the end of the school year when they find permanent housing, as long as that is in their best interest.

• School of origin—school attended when permanently housed or in which last enrolled.

• Best interest—keep homeless students in their schools of origin, to the extent “feasible”, unless this is against the parents’ or guardians’ wishes.

• Can always also choose the local school (any school others living in the same area are eligible to attend).


Feasibility — USDE Sample Criteria • A child-centered, individualized determination • Continuity of instruction • Age of the child or youth • Safety of the child or youth • Likely length of stay in temporary housing • Likely area where family will find permanent housing • Student’s need for special instructional programs • Impact of commute on education • School placement of siblings • Time remaining in the school year NAEHCY •

Research on School Mobility • Students who switch schools frequently score lower on standardized tests; study found mobile students scored 20 points lower than non-mobile students.

• Demonstration project in WA showed that school stability for homeless students increases assessment scores and grades.

• Mobility also hurts non-mobile students; study found average test scores for non-mobile students were significantly lower in high schools with high student mobility rates.


Research on School Mobility (cont.) • Students suffer psychologically, socially, and academically from mobility; mobile students are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities and more likely to act out or get into trouble.

• Mobility during high school greatly diminishes the likelihood of graduation; study found students who changed high schools even once were less than half as likely as stable students to graduate, even controlling for other factors.

• It takes children an average of 4-6 months to recover academically after changing schools.


Research on Mobility (cont.) Recent study published in the Archives of Psychiatry found that kids aged 11 to 17 were twice as likely to attempt suicide if their families moved three or more times compared to those who had never moved. If the family moved more than 10 times, the children were four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to those who had never moved.


Transportation —Key Provisions • LEAs must provide transportation to and from their school of origin, at a parent’s or guardian’s request (or at the liaison’s request for unaccompanied youth).

• If crossing LEA lines, they must determine how to divide the responsibility and share the cost, or they must share the cost equally.


Transportation —Key Provisions • LEAs also must provide students in homeless situations with transportation services comparable to those provided to other students.

• LEAs must eliminate barriers to the school enrollment and retention of students experiencing homelessness (including transportation barriers).


Transportation Strategies • Develop close ties among local liaisons, school staff, pupil transportation staff, and shelter workers.

• Use school buses (including special education, magnet school and other buses).

• Develop formal or informal agreements with school districts where homeless children cross district lines.

• Use public transit where feasible.

• Use approved carpools, van or taxi services.

• Reimburse parents and youth for gas.


Enrollment —Key Provisions • If remaining in the school of origin is not feasible, children and youth in homeless situations are entitled to immediate enrollment in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend.

• The terms “enroll” and “enrollment” include attending classes and participating fully in school activities.


Enrollment — Key Provisions (cont.) • Enrollment must be immediate, even if students do not have required documents, such as school records, health records, proof of residency or guardianship, or other documents.

• If a student does not have immunizations, or immunization or medical records, the liaison must immediately assist in obtaining them, and the student must be enrolled in the interim.


Enrollment — Key Provisions (cont.) • Enrolling schools must obtain school records from the previous school, and students must be enrolled in school while records are obtained.

• Schools must maintain records for students who are homeless so they are available quickly.

• SEAs and LEAs must develop, review, and revise policies to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of children and youth in homeless situations.


Immediate Enrollment — Strategies • Request all records from the previous school immediately, including immunization records.

• Parental signature is not required for transfer students (FERPA).

• The vast majority of students have been enrolled in school before and have received immunizations.

• Speak with parents and youth about the classes the student was in, previous coursework, and special needs.

• Call the counselor, teachers or principal at the previous school for information.

• Use the NCHE brief “Prompt and Proper Placement.” ( NCHE • • NAEHCY • • NLCHP •


Resolution of Disputes — Key Provisions • Every state must establish dispute resolution procedures.

• When a dispute over enrollment arises, the student must be admitted immediately to the school of choice while the dispute is being resolved.

• The parent or guardian must be provided with a written explanation of the school’s decision, including the right to appeal.

• The school must refer the child, youth, parent, or guardian to the liaison to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible.


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.

• 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.


Unaccompanied Youth- Who Are They? (cont.) • 20-40% of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (compared to 3-5% of the overall population).

• At the end of 2005, 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.


Unaccompanied Youth — Key Provisions • Liaisons must help unaccompanied youth choose and enroll in a school, after considering the youth’s wishes, and inform the youth of his or her appeal rights • School personnel must be made aware of the specific needs of runaway and homeless youth.



Unaccompanied Youth — Strategies • Develop clear policies for enrolling unaccompanied youth immediately, whether youth enroll themselves, liaisons do enrollment, caretakers enroll youth in their care, or another procedure is in place.

• Train local liaisons and all school enrollment staff, secretaries, counselors, principals, security staff, attendance officers, and teachers on the definition, rights, and needs of unaccompanied youth.

• Coordinate with youth-serving agencies, such as shelters, soup kitchens, drop-in centers, street outreach, child welfare, juvenile courts, law enforcement, legal aid, teen parent programs, public assistance, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth organizations, mental health agencies… NCHE • • NAEHCY • • NLCHP •


Unaccompanied Youth — Strategies (cont.) • Offer youth an adult and peer mentor.

• Establish systems to monitor youth’s attendance and performance, and let youth know you’ll be checking up on them.

• Help youth participate fully in school (clubs, sports, homework help, etc.) • Build trust! Be patient, and ensure discretion and confidentiality when working with youth.



Access to Services • Students who experience homelessness must have access to educational services for which they are eligible, including special education, programs for English learners, gifted and talented programs, voc./tech. programs, and school nutrition programs.

• Undocumented children and youth have the same right to attend public school as U.S. citizens and are covered by the McKinney-Vento Act to the same extent as other children and youth (Plyler v. Doe).


Young Children and Homelessness

• Compared to the non-homeless children served by Head Start, children experiencing homelessness were reported to • Have greater developmental delays, • To be more likely to have learning disabilities and developmental delays, and • To exhibit a higher frequency of socio-emotional problems.

• Only 15% of homeless preschool children are enrolled in preschool programs

Preschool-Aged Children • Liaisons must ensure that families and children have access to Head Start, Even Start, and other public preschool programs administered by the LEA • State plans must describe procedures that ensure that homeless children have access to public preschool programs • Homeless children are categorically eligible for Head Start programs • Head Start programs are required to identify and prioritize homeless children for enrollment; allow homeless children to enroll while required paperwork is obtained; and coordinate with LEA liaisons • OHS Information:

Strategies for Accessing Public Preschool

•Identify the existing public school programs within your district, i.e. classrooms for 3, 4 and 5 year olds, Special education programs, other federally funded projects and community/district collaborations •Advocate for slots for homeless children within existing public school programs •Connect with public school key early childhood and elementary staff to build relationships, share data, create awareness and understanding of the impact of homelessness on young children for future partnerships

Strategies for Accessing Public Preschool

•Include homelessness in the list of criteria for priority enrollment, classify homelessness as an “at risk” factor, and/or include homelessness specifically as a criterion for "most in need.” •Set up meetings with community service agencies to begin to develop a relationship on issues such as available preschool programs in the community, recruiting families experiencing homelessness into preschool programs, the enrollment process, transportation, and other services.

Access to Services (cont.) • Homeless students are automatically eligible for free school meals.

• USDA policy permits liaisons and shelter directors to obtain free school meals for students immediately by providing a list of names of students experiencing homelessness with effective dates.

• The 2004 reauthorization of IDEA includes amendments that reinforce timely assessment, inclusion, and continuity of services for homeless children and youth who have disabilities.


Access to Services (cont.) • Unaccompanied youth applying for federal financial aid are automatically considered “independent students”.

• A liaison, shelter director or financial aid administrator must verify their status.

• Youth who are homeless, unaccompanied youth OR self-supporting and at-risk of homelessness can qualify.


Title I and Homelessness — Key Provisions • A child or youth who is homeless is automatically eligible for Title IA services, regardless of whether his or her school is a Title IA school.

• LEAs must reserve (or set aside) the funds necessary to serve homeless children who do not attend Title IA schools, including educationally related support services; funds may be used for children attending any school in the LEA.


Strategies for Determining the Title I Set-Aside Amount • Review needs and costs involved in serving homeless students in the current year and project for the following year • Multiply the number of homeless students by the Title IA per pupil allocation • For districts with subgrants, reserve an amount greater than or equal to the McKinney-Vento subgrant funding request • Reserve a percentage based on the district’s poverty level or total Title IA allocation NAEHCY •

New Title I Part A Guidance

• New guidance issued as part of ARRA guidance on September 4, 2009 • Homeless children eligible for Title I regardless of which school they attend •To the extent that Title I Part A services increase because of ARRA, the obligation increases to provide services for homeless students in non participating schools • Title I funds may be used for services not ordinarily provided to other Title I services

Examples of Title I Services:

•Items of clothing, particularly if necessary to meet a school’s dress or uniform requirement • Clothing and shoes necessary to participate in physical education classes • Student fees that are necessary to participate in the general education program • Personal school supplies such as backpacks and notebooks • Birth certificates necessary to enroll in school • Immunizations • Food • Medical and dental services • Eyeglasses and hearing aids

Examples of Title I Services:

•Counseling services • Outreach services • Extended learning time • Tutoring services • Parental involvement • Fees for AP and IB testing • Fees for SAT/ACT testing • GED testing for school-age students

Principles Guiding the Use Title I Services for Homeless Students: •Services must be reasonable and necessary to enable homeless students to take advantage of educational opportunities •Fund must be used as a last resource when funds or services are not reasonably available from other public or private sources •An individual paid, in whole or in part, with Title I, Part A funds, including Title I, Part A ARRA funds, may also serve as a homeless liaison.

Why It Matters

“Through our conversations I discovered her to be a mature young woman with much responsibility on her shoulders. Through the outstanding work she completed in my class, I also discovered her capability to rise above the difficulties she faced in her personal life and excel at school.”

LeTendre Scholarship recommendation letter for Michelle, 2006 LeTendre Scholar, from her Economics teacher



Resources National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

National Center on Homeless Education National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

National Network for Youth

OSPI McKinney-Vento information