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              Children and Youth:
  Overcoming Hurdles and Opening Doors

                            Patricia Julianelle
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

                             Hartford, CT
                             May 31, 2007
“…Through it all, school is probably the only thing
that has kept me going. I know that every day that
I walk in those doors, I can stop thinking about my
  problems for the next six hours and concentrate
    on what is most important to me. Without the
  support of my school system, I would not be as
well off as I am today. School keeps me motivated
  to move on, and encourages me to find a better
                   life for myself.”

           Carrie Arnold, LeTendre Scholar, 2002
               Our Agenda Today

 Who are unaccompanied children and youth?
 McKinney-Vento overview: Identification, Enrollment
  and Attendance, law and strategies
 Special education for unaccompanied youth
 Working with other systems: laws, programs, and
          Who Are Unaccompanied
     Children and Youth under the Law?
 STEP 1: Must meet the McKinney-Vento definition of
  homeless: 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
    Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to
     lack of adequate alternative accommodations
    Living in emergency or transitional shelters
    Awaiting foster care placement
    Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live
    Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing,
     bus or train stations, etc.
    Migratory children living in above circumstances
 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and
     Youth under the Law? (cont.)
STEP 2: McKinney-Vento eligible children and youth who
 are not in the physical custody of a parent of guardian

Is there an age range?
 No. McKinney-Vento applies to all school-aged children
 and youth as defined by state law.

Is there a citizenship requirement?
 No. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe (1982) makes it
 unlawful for schools to to deny access to undocumented
 immigrants or ask about immigration status. McKinney-
 Vento must be equally applied to undocumented
 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and
      Youth in your Community?
 Studies have found that 20-50% of unaccompanied
  youth were sexually abused in their homes, while
  40-60% were physically abused.

 Only about half of homeless youth are considered to
  have a chance of family reconciliation.

 20-40% of unaccompanied youth identify as gay,
  lesbian, bisexual or transgender (compared to 3-5%
  of adults).
 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and
  Youth in your Community? (cont.)
 70% of pregnant teenagers are abused by their dating

 Homeless youth are six times more likely to be in foster
  care. 25-40% of youth who emancipate from foster care
  will end up homeless.

 Who are unaccompanied youth in your community?
   Must schools enroll children and youth in
  school if there is no proof of guardianship?

McKinney-Vento requires immediate enrollment
 of homeless children and youth. Lack of
 guardianship papers cannot delay or prevent
Neither can lack of other enrollment documents,
 such as school records, immunizations, proof of
 residency, etc.
School districts must eliminate barriers to youth’s
 enrollment in school.
How can schools enroll children and youth in
 school if there is no proof of guardianship?

Caregiver enrollment forms (sample at http://
Youth self-enrollment
Liaison enrollment
How are unaccompanied youth enrolled in your
  Do schools have to contact the police when
       enrolling unaccompanied youth?

NO. This would create a barrier to enrollment and
 retention in school!
 Schools must enroll youth immediately; school is the
  safest and best place for youth
 Educators are only mandated to report abuse and
  neglect, and this reporting is to DCF
 Running away from home does not violate CT law
 If you have reason to suspect kidnapping, you can
  immediately see if the student has been reported
  missing at or 1-800-THE-LOST.
Can unaccompanied youth stay in one school
    despite moving from place to place?

 McKinney-Vento allows homeless children and youth to
  remain in their school of origin while homeless.
 School of origin is the school they attended when
  permanently housed or the school where last enrolled.
 Students must be allowed to attend their school of origin
  as long as it is feasible
 Feasible is a child-centered, individualized determination
  (USDE Guidance, page 14;
       Can unaccompanied youth receive
     transportation to the school of origin?

 McKinney-Vento requires school districts to provide
  transportation to the school of origin
 Transportation strategies for older youth may include
  public transportation, reimbursement for gas, school
  buses, taxis, or other methods
  Who is responsible for implementing
   these policies in school districts?

 Everyone
 Every school district must designate a
  McKinney-Vento Liaison
 Who is the Liaison in your school district?
   Ask Louis Tallarita: (860) 807-2058 or
            Liaisons—Key Provisions

 Liaisons must ensure McKinney-Vento is implemented in their
  school districts
 Liaisons must identify unaccompanied youth through school
  and community collaborations.
 Liaisons must help unaccompanied youth choose and enroll
  in a school, after considering the youth’s wishes, and inform
  the youth of his or her rights to transportation and to appeal
 School personnel must be made aware of the specific needs
  of runaway and homeless youth.
How do liaisons identify unaccompanied
 Provide awareness activities for school staff
  (registrars, secretaries, counselors, social workers,
  nurses, teachers, bus drivers, administrators,
  truancy and attendance officers, security officers, ...)
 Educate school staff about “warning signs” that may
  indicate an enrolled child or youth may be
  experiencing homelessness
 Coordinate with community service agencies, such
  as shelters, soup kitchens, drop-in centers, street
  outreach, DCF, juvenile court, legal aid, teen parent
  programs, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth
  organizations, public assistance, mental health…
How do liaisons identify unaccompanied
             youth? (cont.)
 Provide outreach materials and posters where
  unaccompanied youth “hang out”, including
  laundromats, parks, campgrounds, skate parks,
  clubs/organizations, …
 Enlist youth to help spread the word
 Develop relationships with truancy officials and
  other attendance officers
 Avoid using the word "homeless" in initial
  contacts with school personnel and youth
  Does a school have to help unaccompanied
         youth make up lost credits?

 Many unaccompanied youth are absent or tardy
  due to homelessness, often resulting in youth
  not earning credits due to credit accrual policies
 McKinney-Vento requires that schools and
  districts remove barriers to enrollment and
 Credit accrual policies that unaccompanied
  youth fail to meet due to homelessness are
  barriers, and must be revised
 How can schools help unaccompanied youth
           make up lost credits?

 Award partial credits
 Offer flexible school hours
 “Chunk” credit into smaller time frames
 Award credit for work
 Provide independent study opportunities
 Provide self-paced computerized learning opportunities,
  attached to regular HS programs
 Partner with local community colleges and universities
  (“middle college high schools”)
 These initiatives can be funded with M-V funds and Title
  IA set-aside funds
        How Does All This Work?

 Listen to youth. Work to build trust with them
  and understand that their life experiences with
  adults thus far likely give them no reason to trust
 Talk to youth about their goals, interests and
  strengths, and engage them in school based on
  what you hear from them.
 Keep the wishes and needs of the youth central
  to the decision making process
   How Does All This Work? (cont.)
 Provide a “safe place” and trained mentor at school,
  for unaccompanied youth to access as needed.
 Revise LEA policies to accommodate
  unaccompanied youth and comply with the
  McKinney-Vento Act.
 Train all school staff on the definition, rights and
  needs of unaccompanied youth (registrars,
  secretaries, counselors, social workers, nurses,
  teachers, bus drivers, administrators, truancy and
  attendance officers, security officers…)
 Free your mind: TWADI holds us back!
    Now Walk with Me into Special
         Education Land…
 Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education
  Act (IDEA), all rights belong to “parents”, not
 Parent is broadly defined:
    Biological or adoptive parent,
    Foster parent,
    Guardian,
    Person who is acting in the place of a parent
     and with whom the child is living, or
    A person legally responsible for the child
  Who can make decisions related to special
   education for an unaccompanied youth?

 Someone who meets the definition of “parent”
 If there is no “parent”, then IDEA requires
  schools to appoint surrogate parents for
  unaccompanied youth within 30 days
 IDEA regulations permit staff members of
  emergency shelters, transitional shelters,
  independent living programs, street outreach
  programs, the State, LEA, or other agency
  involved in care/education of youth to serve as
  temporary surrogate parents for
  unaccompanied youth
 What about school liability or parental
    Liability is based on the concept of
     negligence, or a failure to exercise
                reasonable care.
Following federal law and providing
 appropriate services are evidence of
 reasonable care.
Violating federal law and denying services
 are evidence of negligence.
“Through our conversations I discovered her
  to be a mature young woman with much
  responsibility on her shoulders. Through
  the outstanding work she completed in my
  class, I also discovered her capability to
  rise above the difficulties she faced in her
  personal life and excel at school.”
Recommendation letter for 2006 LeTendre Scholar
  Michelle, from her Economics teacher
      Opening More Doors

 Truancy               FWSN
 Job Corps             Juvenile court
 Financial aid for     Public Benefits
  college               Housing
 DCF                   Immigration
 Medical and mental    Emancipation
  health care
         Truancy Court Prevention Project

 Center for Children’s Advocacy and Hartford
  Public Schools, with:
     Capitol Region Education Council
     Catholic Family Services
     Connecticut Judicial Department
     Village for Families & Children
 Goal: reduce truancy and avoid court
     Case management for 9th grade truant students
     Review of academic records; educational assistance
     Court sessions held at school
     Attendance Improvement Plan: mentoring,
      counseling, crisis intervention, after-school programs,
      job readiness, job placement
   Job Corps and Unaccompanied
 Federal Job Corps policy requires signature of
  parent or guardian.
 Job Corps programs can waive requirement for
  youth who have no parent or guardian, cannot
  locate parent or guardian, are legally
  emancipated, have parents who do not object to
  participation—advocates can use this to assist
  unaccompanied youth to enroll without parent
           Federal Financial Aid
 Under the Higher Education Act, youth who meet the
  definition of “independent student” can apply for federal
  aid without parental information or signature
 Unaccompanied youth are not automatically considered
 BUT a financial aid administrator at a college can
  designate a student as independent due to “other
  circumstances;” may consider homelessness, with
 "FASFA Fix for Homeless Kids Act," H.R. 601, would
  make unaccompanied youth automatically independent
  (upon verification by liaison, shelter director, or financial
  aid administrator)
Department of Children and Families

Independent Living Programs do exist
   Community Life Skills Program (15-21)
   SWETP: Supportive Work, Education and
    Transition Program (16 or older, transitional
    living apartment program)
   CHAP: Community Housing Assistance
    Program (HS graduate or GED, independent
    living, cash assistance, payment for
   Aftercare for 6 months
Department of Children and Families
Most programs only apply if the youth is in
 care at age 18!
   Including money for college
Social services in some states are under
 pressure to remove youth from care before
 age 18
  Can unaccompanied youth consent to
      their own medical treatment?
Yes, for the following treatment:
 STDs
 AIDS testing and treatment, only if physician determines
  that notifying the parent/guardian will result in treatment
  being denied; or that the youth will not seek or continue
  treatment if the parent/guardian is notified and the youth
  requests that the parent/guardian not be notified
 Abortion
 Substance abuse (cannot inform parents of treatment
  w/o minor’s consent)
 Emergency treatment
 Any medical treatment of the youth’s own child
  Can unaccompanied youth consent to
   their own medical treatment? (cont.)
Maybe, for mental health treatment (tx):
 6 sessions without consent, if: requiring consent
  is a barrier to tx, tx is clinically indicated, lack of
  tx would be seriously detrimental to the youth,
  the youth has knowingly and voluntarily sought
  tx, and the provider believes the youth is mature
  enough to participate productively
 After 6th session, parental consent required
  unless would be seriously detrimental to the
  minor's well-being.
 Family With Service Needs (FWSN)

 Families determined by law to need services
  through juvenile court
 Includes families with a youth who has run away
  without just cause, is beyond parent/guardian
  control, is habitually truant, or engaged in
  “indecent or immoral conduct”
 Families may be referred to FWSN by law
  enforcement, school superintendents, DCF,
  youth services, parents, or youth
 Upon referral, probation officer will examine
  case to see if FWSN referral is appropriate
  Family With Service Needs (cont.)

 If parents report to police as FWSN, police must
  look for their child
   Must inform parents of whereabouts
   May bring youth home, to home of another person,
    hold in custody for up to 12 hours, or bring to a youth
    service provider
 Court must hold hearing on the placement within
  10 days
 Court will then provide services, refer to DCF, or
  place youth with an adult under court
          Juvenile Court Issues

Runaway youth may be taken into custody
 by a police officer with sole written consent
 of the youth.
   The police officer must transport the youth to
    a facility that offers services to runaway youth.
   The facility shall inform the youth’s guardian
    of the youth’s presence at the facility within 12
    hours, if practicable.
          TFA and homeless youth

 Temporary Family Assistance for low-income
  parents (including teen parents) and their
 Teens must also be:
     Pregnant or parenting
     Living with parent, stepparent, or legal guardian*
     Attending school at least 20 hours/week
     Citizen, LPR or some other immigrants
 21-month limit after 18th birthday
    TFA and homeless youth (cont.)
 What if the youth is unaccompanied?
    Must prove to DSS that you don’t have a living parent/guardian,
     can’t find them, they won’t let you live with them, or living with
     them would be harmful to you or baby
    Must live with a relative, relative of the baby, or other adult-
     supervised situation; that adult will be the payee
 What if there simply are no adults available?
    Must prove to DSS that aren’t any adults available, can’t find
     them, they won’t let you live with them, or living with them would
     be harmful to you or baby
    In that case DSS may name you the payee
           SSI and homeless youth
 The only public benefit that provides a monthly cash
  payment to a single unaccompanied youth with
 May also receive SSI benefits to supplement their TFA
 Youth who receive SSI are also automatically eligible for
  Medicaid, which gives them access to low cost health
 A youth between the ages of 16 and 18 may sign their
  own application, as long as they are:
    mentally competent,
    have no court appointed representative, and
    are not in the care of another person or institution.
 Food stamps and homeless youth

The food stamp program provides funds
 that youth can use to buy food at grocery
 stores, certain retail stores, and some
No age minimum
No parent signature required
No denial solely due to lack of
 address/photo id.
           Housing Options

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
  Basic Center 15-day emergency shelters
  Transitional Living Programs for youth 16-21
  Street Outreach Program
  No income limits
  Youth can enter without parental consent, but
   the program must contact parents within 72

 Special Immigration Juvenile Status—Youth who
  are eligible for foster care due to abuse, neglect,
  or abandonment may qualify for lawful
  permanent residence (LPR).
 Violence Against Women Act—Youth who are
  being abused by a parent or stepparent who is a
  legal resident or citizen may qualify for LPR
  (also women abused by spouse)
 Youth 16 or 17
 One of the following must apply:
      Married
      In military
      Living apart from parents and supporting self
      In best interest to be emancipated
 Youth or parent/guardian must petition juvenile or
  probate court for emancipation
 Youth obtain both legal rights and responsibilities of
Tips for a coordinated approach to addressing
      the needs of unaccompanied youth
 Be familiar with your state and local policies regarding
  unaccompanied youth, both in school and out. Advocate
  for improvements to those policies where necessary
 Create an interagency task force that includes
  representatives from the school district, social services,
  shelters, soup kitchens, drop-in centers, street outreach,
  DCF, juvenile court, law enforcement, legal aid, teen
  parent programs, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth
  organizations, public assistance, mental health, youth
  services, etc. to review and revise service delivery
  models and policies, to establish joint application forms
  and locations, and to develop a unified and “youth-
  friendly” approach
          Tips for Working with Attorneys

 Be clear on your responsibilities to communicate
  with/through District counsel
 Open communication
   Quick responses generally show desire to resolve
 Understand the advantages/disadvantages of written
    much clearer and often quicker
    Oral - can communicate tone, can be more personal
 Don't start out on the defensive or “take the bait”

Chris, 16, recently showed up at Vento High
School, where you are the Principal. Chris
explained that he was staying with a friend who
attends your school and wanted to go to your
school, instead of the school he used to attend
(which is in a different district). Chris explained
that he wasn’t living with his mom anymore. He
said she knew where he was and “didn’t care.”
                           Chris – Q’s
 What are the first 3 specific things you would do to start to build trust with
  Chris and get more information about his situation?

1. How does the McKinney-Vento Act pertain to this situation?
2. Do you have any responsibility to report Chris’s whereabouts to anyone?
   Does it make a difference if he tells you his mother’s boyfriend hits him?
3. What would be your responsibility if Chris’s mother contacted you and told
   you that he had run away without permission? What if he was staying with
   his friend with his mom’s permission, but she told you she wanted him to
   keep going to his old high school?
4. What would you do to support Chris in school? What if he’d missed a month
   of school this semester due to his homelessness?
5. What resources might Chris have if reuniting with his mother was not an
   option? If he had a child and his “friend” was his girlfriend? If he was trying
   to get into college? If he was in DCF custody?
6. How would you work with your district to create the changes that are needed
   so situations like this can be responded to appropriately for all students who
   experience them?
What national groups can help?
 National Runaway Switchboard; 1-800-621-4000
 National Network for Youth
 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Program,
  U.S. Department of Health and Human
      What CT groups can help?


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