Homeless Children and Youth
The No Child Left Behind Act and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act require that homeless children and youth have full and equal access to an appropriate public education and that they experience success in school.
Homeless students shall have access to the same educational programs and services provided to other District students. Students shall not be discriminated against, segregated, or stigmatized based on their status as homeless. The District administration shall make reasonable efforts to identify homeless children within the District, encourage their enrollment, and eliminate existing barriers to their attendance and education. Students enrolling in the District who are, or become, homeless students should notify the District of that fact so the District can better ensure that the student’s rights under federal and Pennsylvania law are explained to him/her and to his/her parents. “Homeless students” are defined as individuals lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, which includes the following conditions:
- Sharing the house of other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship.
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations.
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters.
- Abandoned in hospitals.
- Awaiting foster care placement.
- Living in public or private places not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations for human beings.
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings.
- Living as migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.
Unaccompanied youth are youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or court-appointed guardian, including: · Young people who have run away from home · Young people who have been forced to leave their homes · Young people whose parents have left the area and left the student here. Their possible living situations include: · Living with friends (couch surfing) · Living in shelters · Living in cars, campgrounds, in abandoned buildings, or other public spaces or on the streets. · Living with an adult who is not their parent and does not have legal custody of them. School may be the only safe, stable environment for unaccompanied youth. Schools can provide the needed support to ensure continued academic success for these vulnerable students. In addition to academics, schools can offer adult and peer support, meals, referral to medical and mental health services, sports and other activities. Schools should also connect these young people to other resources and supports available in the community. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires immediate enrollment of these students and protects their right to attend school without parental involvement. Schools must immediately enroll “unaccompanied youth” even if they do not have the documents that are usually required, such as proof of residence, school records, medical records, or guardianship papers. Transportation assistance must be provided (when in the best interest of the student) if the student needs transportation to the school of origin. Free and Reduced Lunch Procedures: Homeless students are entitled to free standard breakfast and lunch meals at school and DO NOT need to fill out the Free and Reduced Meals application. The Homeless Liaison will coordinate this with the School Food Service Director.
The state and its LEAs are required to adopt policies and practices to ensure that transportation is provided, at the request of the parent or guardian (or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison), to and from the school of origin. If the homeless student continues to live in the area served by the LEA, that LEA must provide or arrange transportation. If the homeless student moves to an area served by another LEA, though continuing his or her education at the school of origin, the LEA of origin and the LEA in which the student is living must agree upon a method to apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin. This includes students enrolled in public school, Head Start and Early Head Start education programs. If the LEAs cannot agree upon such a method, the responsibility and costs must be shared equally. Distance, time of year, options available, the effects of a transfer, etc., should all be addressed.
The provision of transportation to the school of origin is based on a students’ status as homeless. The provision to remain in the school of origin during the remainder of the academic year is offered to provide for school stability. Local education agencies must continue to provide transportation to and from the school of origin to formerly homeless students who have become permanently housed for the remainder of the academic year during which the child or youth becomes permanently housed. https://www.education.pa.gov/Policy-Funding/BECS/uscode?pages?educationforHomelessYouth.aspxCommunity Partnerships:AC Valley TeamClarion County Children's Round TableCenter for Community ResourcesStudent Assistance ProgramVenango Children's RoundtableVenango County Truancy Outreach
The District’s local liaison for homeless children and youth is Mrs. Michelle Austin, who can be reached at 724-659-4661 ext. 3105. The local liaison serves as the primary contact between homeless families and school staff, district personnel, shelter workers and other service providers. The local liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and youth enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.