Answer: There aren’t always clear answers. It always depends on the individual situation and whether the students have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. Below are some examples when sponsored immigrants could be eligible even while they are with their original sponsors.
I got a call from someone in our ELL Department asking about McKinney-Vento eligibility for sponsored immigrant families. This has always been a bit murky to me. I know there aren’t always clear answers, but here is a snapshot of what we are currently doing.
New Sponsored Immigrants: they are not eligible for McKinney-Vento on arrival, or eligible as long as they are staying at their first placement. If they leave that placement and become doubled up or in a motel, then they would be eligible.
Refugees: Pretty much the same as above. As long as they are in their first placement they are not eligible. If they then move from that situation into one that meets MV they are eligible.
Does this general approach make sense? And is it any different for immigrants that are not sponsored?
Answer: As general rules, these seem right. However, like you said, there aren’t clear answers, and it always depends on the individual situation and whether the students have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
Below are some examples when sponsored immigrants could be eligible even while they are with their original sponsors.
Sometimes unaccompanied immigrant children are placed with sponsors that are totally inappropriate. We have seen them placed with people who are labor trafficking them, for example. Clearly that’s not a fixed, regular, adequate residence, and those children are McKinney-Vento eligible.
Other times they are placed with sponsors who themselves meet the McKinney-Vento definition of homeless (doubled up or in a motel, usually). Again, those children are McKinney-Vento eligible, even in their initial placement.
We don’t think the sponsorship actually matters very much. It really depends on the living situations. Sponsors supposedly have some level of legal responsibility for the children placed with them, but they definitely do not have guardianship, and there is little if any monitoring of how sponsors treat the children or even whether the children continue to live with the sponsors. So, sponsorship – in terms of McKinney-Vento eligibility – is irrelevant. It would depend on the living situation.
Here’s a brief and an eligibility flow chart that Patricia put together on this issue a couple of years ago. They should help guide you through the process.