Q & A from our Inboxes
SchoolHouse Connection receives many questions from educators, service providers, and the public about the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. We’ll feature some of them here. These answers correspond to particular fact situations and may not always apply to a question you have. Please contact us with your specific questions.
Does ESSA speak to the “immediate enrollment” of preschool children (as long as openings exist), similar to what is required for K-12 students? In my state, both state and federally funded preschool programs are required to be licensed by the state and must follow licensing guidelines which require documentation that our families experiencing homelessness often do not have in their immediate possession.
Answer: The short answer is yes, the McKinney-Vento Act requirements for immediate enrollment do apply to preschool programs that are administered by the SEA or LEAs. The guidance from the U.S. Department of Education states the following: “N-4. Do McKinney-Vento Act...read more
A homeless unaccompanied youth who receives special education services is residing with her grandmother. The parent does not want the grandmother to make any educational decisions, but the school does not think the parent is the best decision maker, since she has no communication at all with the student. I want to make sure we are following the student and parental rights as outlined in McKinney-Vento as well as the IDEA.
Answer: The mother retains her rights under IDEA even while the daughter is living somewhere else and they are not in touch. Unless a court intervenes to restrict the mother’s rights (which is extremely unlikely at this point), she remains the mother legally. If the...read more
If a student is identified in a district as McKinney-Vento, and during the same school year, is placed in foster care, does that student still receive McKinney-Vento services for the entire year, which would include transportation? Since McKinney-Vento services are provided for the entire school year, does the McKinney-Vento identification supersede the foster care identification?
Answer: No. In light of the new ED guidance that came out on March 3, the foster care identification essentially supersedes the McKinney-Vento identification in this situation. The new guidance specifies that if a student qualified as “homeless” due to awaiting...read more
A family has been evicted from a home. Nonetheless, they continue living in said home after eviction notice and court order. The family now essentially is “squatting” in the residence. Does that make them McKinney-Vento?
Answer: Yes. Based on this information, the family is eligible. The family has no right to be where they are staying, and in fact it isn’t legal for them to be there – they could be forcibly removed at any time. It also seems likely that under these...read more
We had a family living in an apartment complex that is being torn down for a highway. The housing authority allowed them to stay until they found a new place and assisted them with the move. The family found a new place in another district. Are they McKinney-Vento eligible?
Answer: If the family moved from one fixed, regular, and adequate residence directly to another fixed, regular, and adequate residence – without a period of homelessness in between – then they would not be considered McKinney-Vento. However, as you consider where the...read more
I have a question for a high school senior who already completed the FAFSA and included her parents’ income. She is now living on her own and qualifies as an unaccompanied homeless youth. Can she amend her FAFSA to indicate that and have her parents’ income be deleted and not considered for financial aid purposes?
Answer: Yes, the senior can amend her FAFSA. In fact, she must amend it. There’s some info here that explains the requirements and the process: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/correct-update. Changes in dependency status (such as becoming an...read more
We are still struggling with the issue of IEPs that contain transportation as a related service for homeless students who are crossing state lines. Do the two LEAs arrange and share the cost of transportation for homeless students with IEPs that list it as a related service, or does the LEA that is providing all of the IEP services pay for any and all transportation needs for that student, even if he is homeless?
Answer: We have some brand new federal guidance on that question. It’s new Question J-12 of the McKinney-Vento Guidance update issued on March 3, 2017. When crossing state lines, the allocation of transportation costs should follow the McKinney-Vento Act’s...read more
I have a question about an unaccompanied youth and her school of origin rights. The student’s parent is currently incarcerated and she has been sent to live with family friends (no legal guardianship). They want her to attend the local school and do not want her to return to her school of origin. The liaison feels it is in her best interest to remain in the school of origin, and the student wants to remain. Where should this child attend school?
Answer: Let’s talk through the non McKinney-Vento legalities first, for context. These caregivers have no legal rights over the child unless the parents or a court gives them rights. The parent(s) could sign a simple power of attorney that gives the caregiver(s) the...read more
How does McKinney-Vento apply to a homeschool student? There is a parent in shelter who wants to homeschool her 4th grade daughter. She wants to access our McKinney-Vento program while homeschooling.
Answer: A homeschool student who meets the McKinney-Vento definition of “homeless” definitely can access your McKinney-Vento program. The services will be based on her needs, and there’s a lot that won’t apply, since she is homeschooled. But for example, if she needed...read more
I give students the FAFSA letter that states they are unaccompanied and homeless, or unaccompanied, self-supporting and at-risk for homelessness, for financial aid purposes; but what about for scholarship applications or college entrance applications?
Answer: If the student asks for copies of the FAFSA homeless verification letter, or asks a liaison/counselor to include a homeless verification letter in an application for college admission or scholarship, then it is fine for the liaison/counselor to provide it....read more
If you could, please kindly comment on each of the following assertions about McKinney-Vento preschool transportation that I have seen or read or heard somewhere…
Answer: Preschool transportation is a new issue that is causing a lot of confusion. Preschools have been added to the school of origin definition by the Every Student Succeeds Act, so that transportation to a preschool of origin now is REQUIRED, as long as remaining...read more
What are your thoughts on transitional housing from an adult treatment program, or transitional housing that is for previously incarcerated heads of household?
Answer: Transitional living programs are specifically included with the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homeless and are covered. But it sounds like you are raising a slightly different issue, where people are not necessarily in transitional housing due to a loss...read more