Newsletter (March 20, 2023)

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Q&A From Our Inbox

SchoolHouse Connection receives many questions from educators, service providers, and the public about the education and care of children and youth experiencing homelessness. We respond to every question we receive, citing applicable law and policy. In order to assist people who may have similar questions, we feature many of the questions and answers on this web page.

Q: Our state has a law that excludes all students in mid-February if they are not up to date with their immunizations. This statewide day is called “Exclusion Day”. McKinney-Vento law states that we must review and revise policies that are a barrier to McKinney-Vento students enrollment and participation, and I believe exclusion day can be a barrier to a student’s attendance. We connect our students to health resources and advocate for students so that we can prevent their exclusion from school. This year, some of my liaison colleagues in neighboring school districts and I have experienced schools excluding students despite our advocacy. I know that federal law supersedes state law, and I’m hoping for a national lens to this practice. [See Answer]

Q: We have a student who became homeless this school year, so School A became her school of origin. The family relocated to another attendance area (School B). In January, the student decided to leave school of origin (School A) per parent request and enroll in the school of her attendance area (School B). The student now wants to return to School A. Is School A still her school of origin? What if the student now has secure housing in School B’s attendance area? [See Answer]

Q: We are working with a family that struggles financially. Mom is dealing with some medical challenges and is needing brain surgery; she currently can’t be left alone. Since mom can’t be alone, our student and her mom are doubled up with grandma three to five days out of the week. The other days they are able to be at their home, because grandma can be there with them. Grandma lives out of our school district and has reached out for help with transportation. We know they are struggling financially, but we can’t decide if the living situation is one that would be eligible under McKinney-Vento. [See Answer]

[Webinar] Home Visiting for Homeless Families

Tuesday, March 28, 2:00-3:00PM Eastern

Co-presented by researchers from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, we dive into the home visiting program model and key findings from Chapin Hall’s formative evaluation study. We’ll also discuss how to break down barriers to accessing home visiting programs, and ways that home visiting programs can be more responsive to the needs of families experiencing homelessness.

[Webinar] How TRIO Student Support Services Can Help Students Experiencing Homelessness

Wednesday, April 12, 1:00-2:00PM Eastern

The Federal TRIO programs help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school through higher education. Under the FAFSA Simplification Act, TRIO and GEAR UP programs are newly authorized to determine unaccompanied homeless youth status on the FAFSA. During this panel, webinar participants will learn about FAFSA simplification and its implications for TRIO Student Support Services (SSS), as well as hear from two TRIO SSS programs on how they support students experiencing homelessness and how they will implement the new FAFSA provisions.

ARP-HCY Spotlight: Community Partnerships

Pinellas County Schools (PCS) is making great strides in supporting their students experiencing homelessness with the help of ARP-HCY Part I and Part II funds. With over 3,000 students identified as homeless, PCS prioritized wraparound services and housing-related supports, staffing, and transportation to meet the needs of their students. Thanks to a collaborative contract with community partners, PCS was able to expand housing programs to support families using ARP-HCY funds, and has referred more than 90 families to this program. PCS is also partnering with community organizations to provide uniforms, transportation, and support for unaccompanied homeless youth. Through careful tracking of data, PCS hopes to encourage continued community partnerships and funding to support these essential initiatives beyond the lifespan of ARP-HCY funds.

Dr. Christine Cantrell, Student and Community Support Services Homeless Liaison says:“We are visible in the community, reminding our community partners of McKinney-Vento so that our housing partners can also be McKinney-Vento advocates. We connect families to these partners who are experts at moving families into housing because our expertise is education. We’ve built a successful model of partnerships with our housing providers, and it’s been the best way to use ARP-HCY funds to support our families.”

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