The homeless specialist coordinates a variety of activities to assist homeless families with school age children. Primary activities include eliminating traditional barriers to students being enrolled in school immediately. This includes such things as residency requirements, guardianship, transportation, school fees, lack of student records and special programs.
Homelessness brings about a variety of basic needs that require service assistance beyond what schools can offer. The homeless specialist works closely with social service agencies and shelter directors to provide for the children. Through the support of various charitable groups and social service agencies the homeless specialist tries to provide school supplies, school pictures, weather appropriate clothing, financial assistance, food, and holiday gifts to students in need, by either referral or by direct acquisition.
If your family lives in any of the following situations:
- In a shelter
- In a motel or campground due to the lack of an alternative adequate accommodation
- In a car, park, abandoned building, or bus or train station
- Doubled up with other people due to loss of housing or economic hardship
Your school-age children may qualify for certain rights and protections under the federal McKinney-Vento Act.
Your eligible children have the right to:
- Receive a free, appropriate public education
- Enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment
- Enroll in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documents
- Enroll in the local school, or continue attending their school of origin (the school they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last enrolled), if that is your preference
- If the school district believes that the school you select is not in the best interest of your children, then the district must provide you with a written explanation of its position and inform you of your right to appeal its decision
- Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if you request this
- Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students, according to your children’s needs
If you believe your children may be eligible, contact the local liaison to find out what services and supports may be available. There also may be supports available for your preschool-age children.