Guidance for Schools
Who they are:
Homeless students are defined by federal law as being without a permanent and stable home including those who:
- Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis by examining the living arrangements of each student.
- Generally we are not able to contact persons or agencies outside the school system and beyond the family, youth or guardian to obtain information about the child’s living situation as it would violate the family’s privacy and possibly FERPA.
- Preschool children, migrant children, and youth whose parents will not permit them to live at home or who have run away from home (even if their parents are willing to have them home) are considered homeless if they fit the definition.
What we do:
- When a child is identified as meeting the criteria for homeless, demographic info is entered into a state database. A child remains identified as homeless through the remainder of the school year even if circumstances change. Each child’s situation is reevaluated at the start of the next school year.
- Any child who is identified as homeless is automatically eligible for Title I-A services.
- Families have a right to refuse services, but the names of the children are still entered into the database that is maintained by the state.
- Homeless students who are unaccompanied youth have the right to immediate enrollment with or without all the necessary paperwork.
- Under NC law, schools are not required to report a suspected runaway.
- Homeless students have the right to transportation provided by the school district(s) to their school of origin if it determined to be feasible in the best interests of the child. Johnston County has generally looked at this as being no more than one county over.
- Homeless students have the right to free meals served at the school
- JCS supplies each student identified as homeless with a backpack and some school supplies. More are available if needed.
- Students identified as homeless can still be disciplined for behaviors as any other students. Discipline should not be applied for lack of completed assignments, not bringing notes, and other matters related to the difficulties resulting from their living situation.
- McKinney-Vento advises that barriers to academic success need to be removed. This has been interpreted to mean extended time to make up work and absences. Some LEAs have given partial credit for work completed at one school when a child moves to another school. Some offer opportunities for credit recovery.
Important to Remember:
Policy Code: 3290 Homeless Students
- Students identified as homeless are often experiencing higher levels of stress outside of school.
- Homeless status is confidential. When possible attempts should be made to discuss the situation in other terms as there are often stigmas attached to the word “homeless.”
- LEAs need to have a policy as to who can sign for an unaccompanied youth who enrolls. Johnston County has generally used the gray form and added a written statement, “unaccompanied youth per McKinney-Vento” and allowed an adult who comes with the youth to sign.
- School Social Workers and Student Advocates can be utilized to help verify homeless status and absences that result from the living situation.