Homeless Student Liaisons are district staff members responsible for ensuring the identification, school enrollment, attendance, and opportunities for academic success of students in homeless situations. They serve as the point of contact at the district level for all issues regarding homeless students and as the coordinator for district compliance with McKinney-Vento. The homeless education liaison’s primary responsibility is to reach out and find the homeless students in their district.
Who is Homeless?
Children and youth who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” are considered homeless for educational purposes. Students in these situations are considered homeless:
- “Doubled up”—sharing the housing of friends or relatives due to the loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds because of the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters
- Abandoned in hospitals
- Awaiting foster care placement
- Have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above
- Unaccompanied youths—adolescents who are not in the physical custody of their parents
Take Note – Understanding Homelessness – The definition of “homeless’ is very broad and its manifestation is not always obvious. Contact the school district’s homeless liaison to see what can be done to help your client if he or she does qualify.
What are the Rights of Homeless Students?
- To maintain enrollment in their school of origin whenever feasible
- The school of origin is either the school the student was attending prior to the loss of permanent housing or the last school the student attended
- Homeless students also have the right to attend their local school—any public school that students living in the same attendance area have the right to attend
- Homeless students should remain at the school of origin, unless it is against the wishes of the parent, guardian or student
- Students are allowed to remain in their school of origin for the duration of their homelessness or if they secure permanent housing, the remainder of the school year
- To receive transportation between school and temporary living situation as needed
- To be immediately enrolled in school and permitted to attend class even if normally required documentation (i.e., immunization and proof of residency records) is missing
- To receive appropriate services such as special education services, preschool, and free or reduced lunch