Schools often fail to identify homeless students
- Inadequate funding for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is leaving many homeless students unidentified, according to EdSurge.
- A report in Texas, for example, showed that a quarter of all school districts in the state reported that they don’t have any students that are homeless, which leads the researchers to believe districts just don’t have methods to count them.
While the McKinney-Vento program requires districts to have a homeless liaison, who can help identify homeless students and direct families to services, the article says many districts assign these duties to staff members on top of their other responsibilities.
Recent attention to the growing numbers of students without a stable place to live, in California, Los Angeles and New York City, for example, raises questions about how districts are both identifying and serving students who are homeless.
To better identify these students, schools and districts should raise awareness of this population in schools and the community, conducting community assessments of poverty, foreclosures, eviction rates and other issues that affect homelessness and include housing questionnaires in enrollment packets, according to the National Center for Homeless Education. These tasks, however, call for partnerships with local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The brief suggests that, when possible, districts consider allowing other personnel at local schools, in addition to the McKinney-Vento liaison, to determine a student’s eligibility for services to expedite the process.
The EdSurge article also suggests the need for frequent communication between teachers and other school personnel, such as school social workers, counselors and those tracking student attendance. Students who lack stable housing are likely to be experiencing other issues, such as absenteeism, missed assignments, behavior problems, possibly domestic violence, and should not be viewed in isolation.
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