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Effectively Reaching Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth in College Access Efforts

Effectively Reaching Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth in College Access Efforts. October 17, 2008. Risk Profile. Victim of a natural disaster Risk of job becoming obsolete Contracting a long-term illness with lack of appropriate health care coverage One full-time wage earner in the home

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Effectively Reaching Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth in College Access Efforts

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  1. Effectively Reaching Homeless and Unaccompanied Youth in College Access Efforts October 17, 2008

  2. Risk Profile • Victim of a natural disaster • Risk of job becoming obsolete • Contracting a long-term illness with lack of appropriate health care coverage • One full-time wage earner in the home • Behind on monthly bills • Living in an area where housing costs are rising faster than wage earnings

  3. Risks, Cont’d • Physical and/or mental illness in the family • Family violence • Experiencing extreme financial difficulty without aid from family or friends In other words… The average American family can be at risk of homelessness

  4. Who are Homeless Youth? Defining Homelessness The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) include a definition of homelessness that matches the definition of homelessness in the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which governs public schools Identical definition is in the Child Nutrition Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Head Start Act, and the Violence Against Women Act Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless programs use a more restrictive definition (but changes are pending)

  5. McKinney-Vento (and CCRAA and HEOA)Definition of Homelessness • Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence— • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason [61% of students identified by public schools in 2006-2007] • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations [Motels: 7% of students identified by public schools in 2006-2007] • Living in emergency or transitional shelters [24% of students identified by public schools in 2006-2007]

  6. McKinney-Vento (and CCRAA and HEOA) Definition of Homelessness, Continued • Awaiting foster care placement (state and local interpretations vary) • Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, etc. • Migratory children living in above circumstances Unaccompanied Youth: A youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian who also meets the definition of homeless McKinney-Vento cite: 42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)

  7. Homeless Definition: Why So Broad? • Shelters are often full; shelters may turn families/youth away, or put families/youth on waiting lists • Shelters do not exist in many suburban and rural areas • Eligibility conditions of shelters often exclude families with boys over the age of 12, or unaccompanied minors • Motels may not be available, or may be too expensive • Families/youth may turn to friends or family after initial eviction, living in over-crowded, temporary, and sometimes unsafe environments • Shelters often have 30, 60, or 90 day time limits • Families/youth may be unaware of alternatives, fleeing in crisis

  8. How many children and youth experience homelessness? 1.35 million children nationwide 10% of all children living in poverty 733,000-1.3 million youth on their own Public schools identified and enrolled 679,724 children/youth in 2006-2007 Homelessness is increasing due to economic downturn, housing crisis, etc

  9. Causes of Family Homelessness Lack of affordable housing Poverty - mean income of homeless families is 46% of poverty line Health problems (including mental illness, addiction disorders) Domestic violence Natural and other disasters (foreclosure crisis)

  10. Profile: JoAnn • Lived with her family in cars, shelters, abandoned buildings • Constantly moving • Never went to elementary school “I stayed on an aluminum chair, and did math problems well into dawn because I refused to sleep on the disgusting, hard floor.”

  11. Why are Youth Homeless on Their Own? • Over half of callers to Runaway Hotline report being physically abused at home; over one-third report sexual abuse; over two-thirds report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol • Other youth are thrown out of their homes because they are pregnant, gay or lesbian, or because their parents believe they are old enough to take care of themselves • Some children and youth are abandoned by their parents, or are on their own due to death of parents • Some children and youth are in unstable living situations due to parental incarceration, illness, or hospitalization

  12. Why are Youth Homeless on Their Own? Continued • Over half of youth living in shelters report that their parents either told them to leave, or knew they were leaving and did not care • Some youth become homeless with their families, but, due to lack of space in doubled-up or motel situations, end up homeless on their own • Natural disasters cause youth to be separated from family during their homelessness • Aging out of foster care into homelessness; running away from foster care placements due to abuse in the foster home, or to reconnect with siblings and family

  13. Profile: Naomi • Abusive parent • Sent to youth shelter at age 13 • In and out of foster care/homelessness “My mother had taken scissors and cut the hair off my head. Even though I was completely bald, like a man, I continued to go to school because I knew that education would be the thing that would take me out of the place I knew as hell.... home!”

  14. Impact of Homelessness • Higher rates of acute and chronic illness, depression and anxiety; experiences of trauma and loss • For unaccompanied youth, lack of support from any caring adult • Unaccompanied youth are frequently victimized. As many as half have been assaulted or robbed; one in ten runaways reports being raped • According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year from assault, illness, or suicide • Perform lower on academic assessments • 75% of unaccompanied homeless youth do not graduate

  15. Profile: George • Homeless twice in Africa due to civil war • Red Cross transported to US • Mother could not support 5 children on minimum wage “We were all shattered. We were falling further and further behind in school because we did not have a valid address to enroll in school.”

  16. Barriers to Education • High mobility: 41% will attend at least two different schools; 28% will attend three or more • Unaccompanied youth: lack of a parent or guardian to sign forms • Lack of school records and other paperwork • Lack of stable housing • Emotional crisis / mental health issues • Employment - need to balance school and work • Lack of transportation • Lack of school supplies, clothing • Fatigue, poor health, hunger • Credit accrual policies, attendance policies • Concerns about being captured by authorities • Low expectations by family, school

  17. Educational Rights Under The McKinney-Vento Act • Broad mandate for all school districts to remove barriers to school enrollment and retention by revising policies and practices • Remain in the school of origin (if in best interest) • Transportation to the school of origin • Immediate enrollment • Access to programs and services • Access to dispute resolution procedures

  18. McKinney-Vento Personnel • Every State Education Agency has an Office of State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth • Collaboration responsibilities across agencies and with communities • Technical assistance to LEAs • Compliance • Professional development • Data collection and reporting

  19. McKinney-Vento Personnel • Every Local Education Agency (school district) must designate a liaison for students in homeless situations • Responsibilities • Ensure that children and youth in homeless situations are identified through school and community • Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school • Make referrals for health, mental health, and other services, and ensure that homeless children receive Head Start and preschool programs administered by school districts

  20. Local HomelessEducation Liaisons (cont.) • Inform parents, guardians, or youth of educational and parent involvement opportunities • Post public notice of educational rights • Resolve disputes • Inform parents, guardians, or youth of transportation services, including to the school of origin • Collaborate and coordinate with community and school personnel

  21. Challenges in ImplementingThe McKinney-Vento Act • Insufficient funding - only 6% of districts receive funding • Many liaisons do not have sufficient time and/or training to carry out duties • Schools still struggle with lack of awareness of the definition of homelessness and McKinney-Vento rights; failure to identify eligible students • Transportation to the school of origin is expensive and provides logistical challenges • Unaccompanied youth and preschool children face unique challenges, including invisibility • Resistance to enrolling mobile students in high stakes testing era • Policies of other agencies - housing, shelter, child welfare - create barriers

  22. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) • Starting in the 2009-2010 academic year: • independent student definition will also be expanded to include any applicant who has been verified during the school year in which the application is submitted as either: • An unaccompanied youth who is a homeless child or youth, as such terms are defined in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; or • An unaccompanied youth who is at risk of homelessness and is also self-supporting.

  23. Verification • A local educational agency homeless liaison, designated pursuant to 722(g)(1)J)(ii) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; • The director or a designee of the director of a program funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; • The director of a program funded under subtitle B of title IV of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; or • A financial aid administrator.

  24. Changes to Higher Education Act • College access • TRIO and GEAR UP are now required to identify and provide services to homeless and foster youth • Staff development training includes provisions to recruit and provide services to homeless and foster youth • While on campus • Student Support Services will foster a climate to provide support and success • Will include provision of temporary housing during campus breaks

  25. U.S. Dept. of Education • Will provide public awareness of the needs and challenges of foster and homeless youth • Has authorization for grant support for serving and providing housing during campus breaks • Will accept independent status on the FAFSA for student who were in foster care anytime since the age of 13 years

  26. Strategies for Increasing College Access • Inform counselors, financial aid administrators, and college access providers about the needs of homeless youth. • Distribute fact sheets on homelessness • Invite homeless liaisons and providers to present at state/local conferences • Participate in webinars • Include information on homelessness in existing publications, handbooks, and web sites

  27. Strategies for Increasing College Access • Develop targeted grassroots outreach strategies to youth in homeless shelters • Invite shelters to participate in College Goal Sunday • Facilitate transportation from shelters to CGS sites • Provide financial aid information to shelter directors • Conduct workshops for youth at shelters • Present financial aid and college access information at state and local homeless conferences • Develop posters with contact information; place in shelters and other places where youth may congregate • Youth turnover rates are high, so revisit these activities throughout the year

  28. How do I find shelters and homeless coalitions? • To find HUD-funded shelter providers in your community: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/homeless/budget/2007/index.cfm • To find Runaway and Homeless Youth Act service providers: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/content/youthdivision/programs/locate.htm • Stand Up for Kids: http://www.standupforkids.org • Homeless Coalitions: http://www.nationalhomeless.org • Salvation Army, YMCA, Family Promise

  29. How do I start the conversation? • Contacting a local homeless coalition or continuum of care may be the easiest point of contact and best way to get information to many providers • Ask if the shelter/program offers educational services for high school-aged youth and young adults; ask to speak to the coordinator • Ask if the shelter/program has a youth coordinator; try to contact that person • Offer to provide financial aid training to staff

  30. How do I start the conversation?Continued • Let providers know that the information you have can benefit youth and is free • Offer to email or mail basic information, follow up with call • Remember: shelter providers are often consumed meeting basic needs and assisting youth/families who are in crisis. Education may not be the first priority. Educating providers is important. • Remember: shelter providers/programs are very concerned about confidentiality. Meeting with program staff can help alleviate concerns

  31. Strategies for Increasing College Access • Develop strategies to reach homeless youth through high schools • Contact the school district homeless liaison and ask to set up a meeting • Liaisons wear many hats; turnover is high • Explain to liaison what you do and ask how you can get information to homeless youth identified by schools • Contact the state homeless education coordinator • Explain your role and ask if state coordinator can help get information out to all liaisons in the state • Ask if state coordinator holds a statewide training for homeless education programs, and if materials can be provided/session offered • Contact counselors to provide information on homelessness and higher education • Contact student organizations to help spread the word

  32. How do I find state coordinatorsand local liaisons? • To find local school district homeless liaisons: 1) contact the district directly; 2) contact the Office of State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. Most State Coordinators maintain updated lists of all liaisons (often on the State Department of Education web site) • Contact information for State Coordinators is on the NCHE web site: http://www.serve.org/nche/downloads/sccontact.pdf

  33. LeTendre Education Fund Scholarship Administered by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth http://www.naehcy.org/letendre_app.html • Small scholarships for students who experienced homelessness in their school career • Students who have not reached their 21st birthday by September 1, 2008, and who have completed less than one year of college are eligible to apply. • Applicants may be high school juniors or seniors, students enrolled in a GED or other alternative education program, or recent graduates/GED recipients.

  34. Why It Matters Naomi is currently attending Northern Kentucky University studying Special Education and Speech Therapy. “I want to go on to higher education and be one of the best teachers and social workers a child can have.” JoAnn is attending college in Georgia. “I expect to not only make my mark on the world as a family law attorney, but to also see my mother smile for the rest of her life.” George is enrolled in community college with plans to transfer to four-year university to study medicine. “I want to be a doctor to save lives and help people who have experienced what I have been through and what I am experiencing right now.”

  35. Resources National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth http://www.naehcy.org Barbara Duffield: bduffield@naehcy.org, 202.364.7392 Karen Fessler, fesslek@cpsboe.k12.oh.us, 513.363.1062 National Center on Homeless Education http://www.serve.org/nche National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty http://www.nlchp.org National Network for Youth www.nn4youth.org

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