Higher Education Legislation for Homeless and Foster Youth Introduced

On March 13, 2019, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to remove barriers to higher education access and success caused by homelessness and foster care. The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act of 2019 (HEASHFY) amends the Higher Education Act to simplify eligibility for federal financial aid and to improve outreach, resources, and policies for homeless and foster youth.

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Dear Senator, I Was Once Homeless. Higher Education Was My Way Out.

“When I learned about SchoolHouse Connection’s Tennessee legislation to help college students experiencing homelessness, I immediately was compelled to reach out to my legislators asking for their support. I know the tangible, long-term value of education in overcoming homelessness. I know it because I have lived it. Here is my letter to my legislators urging them to support legislation to help college students experiencing homelessness.”

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Can a student be in foster care/state custody and be McKinney-Vento eligible? We have students placed in foster homes that would be considered “substandard,” a student on a trial run with a parent in a homeless shelter, and students in state custody who are being moved to a new foster home after the previous home was damaged.

Answer: All students in foster care/state custody are covered by the Title I, Part A provisions that provide them with immediate enrollment and school stability. They are not covered by the McKinney-Vento Act. We have more information about the Title I, Part A...

A family lost their electricity and then was evicted in November, and the children moved in with grandparents. Shortly after the move, a judge gave the grandparents legal custody. The students remain in the school of origin. 1) Do the students meet McKinney-Vento criteria? 2) Is the grandparents’ district responsible for sharing the cost of transportation to the school of origin?

Answer: Yes and yes. The students lost their housing due to an eviction (as well as substandard conditions--specifically, no electricity). They moved in with grandparents due to the loss of housing. The custody order does not change that. If the children are going to...

One of my students is covered under the McKinney-Vento Act. My concern is that this student has excessive absences and tardies. He has missed over 12 days of school, and has excessive tardies. He is struggling. Does the McKinney-Vento Act cover such excessive absences?

Answer: The McKinney-Vento Act does contain some specific requirements around absences. In particular, under the Act, states and LEAs must review and revise policies to remove barriers to the education of homeless children and youth, “including barriers to enrollment...

We have a youth shelter funded by the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Program. Everyone who stays in the shelter is reported to the State Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Given this reporting to HMIS, are these youth ALL automatically covered by McKinney-Vento?

Answer: The recording of RHYA youth in HMIS doesn’t create any eligibility for any service--it is just a data management process, and a way to integrate RYHA data with HUD data that are recorded in HMIS. RHYA, HUD, and our McKinney-Vento education definitions remain...

I have an 18-year-old student who graduated last year, and she wants to go to college. She is undocumented, although she has been in the U.S. for most of her life. She is afraid to talk to anyone at a college for fear of being deported. Suggestions?

Answer: This is a sticky situation for this student. She’s not technically covered by FERPA if she’s just talking to a college representative.  That means that although the college representative shouldn’t call the authorities, there’s no assurance they won’t or...

Early Childhood

Infants are at greater risk of living in homeless shelters than any other age group in the United States. Early childhood programs prevent the harmful life-long effects of homelessness on education, health and well-being.

PreK - 12

In the 2015-16 school year, public schools identified more than 1.3 million homeless students. Schools provide basic needs, caring adults, stability, normalcy, and the skills to avoid homelessness as adults.

Higher Education

The majority of well-paying jobs created today require education beyond high school. Post-secondary attainment is increasingly necessary to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and live a healthy, productive life.

Unaccompanied Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people experiencing homelessness who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness each year.

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