Their Future Depends on it! Rethinking Homelessness Young Homeless Children and Families: Strategies for Increasing Access to Services and Support National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) 23rd Annual Conference Preconference Institute II November 5, 2011 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Institute Presenters Francine Hahn Staff Attorney Homeless Persons Representation Project (MD) Mary Jane Quick, M.Ed. Homeless Education Liaison Project Connect, Columbus City Schools (OH) Tim Stahlke Senior Program Coordinator Texas Homeless Education Office (TX) Grace Whitney, Ph.D., Director Head Start State Collaboration Office (CT) Young Homeless Children: Numbers and Trends • In 2008-2009, 52% of all children in HUD homeless shelters were under the age of 6 • The number of homeless children served by Head Start nationally increased by 44% between 2007 and 2009 • The national average is 5%. The Reality of Family Homelessness • Lack of structure, routine, stability • Trauma • Loss • Lack of access to food • Lack of health care • Inappropriate living conditions (no play space, overcrowded, unhealthy, over-stimulation or under-stimulation) • Stressed attachments to caregivers • Invisibility Developmental Delays in Young Children Gross/Fine Motor Skills Sensory Social-emotional Language/Cognition Impacts of Homelessness on Young Children • Health: homeless children are in fair to poor health twice as often as other children: ear infections, stomach problems, asthma, etc. • Mental Health: many homeless children have mental health needs but are the population least likely to receive services. • Development Delays: motor, sensory, language, social-emotional • Domestic Violence: majority of homeless children have either witnessed or experienced domestic violence. • Food Insecurity: Children without homes are twice as likely as other children to experience hunger • School Readiness: Less likely to be enrolled in and regularly attend high quality preschool experiences Special Behavior of Homeless Young Children •Lack of Appropriate Boundaries •Aggressive Behavior •Extremely Withdrawn •Independent/Mature Beyond Years •Hoarding Understanding How Homelessness Affects Child Well-being – A Shelter Survey • Children capable of verbalizing their feelings often express feelings of loss and longing for things familiar to them. • Even though routine is especially important for young children, it is difficult to maintain routines in shelters. • Despite the upset it caused, a few parents reported that being at the shelter was better for them since they felt protected from dangers previously encountered. Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers Experiencing Homelessness • Infants, toddlers and preschoolers who are homeless have more problems with health, development and learning than poor young children who are not homeless • Low-income children who attend Head Start and other high-quality preschool programs are better prepared to enter school than their low-income peers who do not attend Accessing Early Care and Learning Programs • Few families with young children (only 3 of 20 in 2007 CT Survey) were using some type of center- based early care and education • The ‘Catch 22’ of the work requirement for child care subsidies was mentioned often as a problem • TANF work activity may create barrier and at same time opportunity to access child care subsidy for before/after care • Barriers to address: limited capacity, restrictive enrollment criteria, inaccurate information regarding eligibility, accessibility and fees The Impact of Homelessness on Parents • Stress • Parenting in public; parental loss of authority • Not conducive to family life • Often only services for adults not children, especially young children • Instability, uncertainty for planning ahead Family Mental Health Maternal Depression • 85% of homeless mothers report a major episode of depression in past year • Interferes with health and development beginning before birth • Impacts parenting of young children • Impairs critical early relationships • Impairs health management (e.g. breastfeeding; neonatal care or managing chronic health conditions) Family Mental Health • Impact is greater when combine with other parental risk, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, trauma, etc. • The consequences of untreated parental mental health disorders can lead to school failure, and dropping out, substance abuse, violence and even suicide when the young children become older. What Do all Parents Need? • Acceptance where they are • Focus on family strengths • empowering language strategies • A comprehensive approach to family needs • Identifying family goals, priorities and support • Accessing to resources specific for children • Support for development of independence • Creativity and flexibility • Understanding and respect for values, beliefs and culture • TANF services include mental health, domestic violence counseling Reflection 1 Take a moment to reflect on the impact of homelessness on young children and their families and the relevance of this information to your work. Jot down a phrase or two to record your thoughts. How is Homelessness Defined? • The Head Start Act includes 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, and the Violence Against Women Act • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless programs use a more restrictive definition Definition of Homelessness • Children who “lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” • The law lists a number of specific living situations that are covered. • Other situations also may be covered, if they are not fixed, regular and adequate. Specific covered situations • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason • Also called doubled-up or couch-surfing • 72% of homeless students identified in 2009-2010 • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations • Motels: 5% of homeless students identified in 2009- 2010 • Living in emergency or transitional shelters • 19% of homeless students identified in 2009-2010 Specific covered situations • 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, or similar settings Homeless Definition: Why So Broad? • Shelters are often full; shelters may turn families away, or put families 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 • Shelters often have 30, 60, or 90 day time limits • Motels not available or too expensive • Families may turn to friends or family after initial eviction, living in over-crowded, temporary, and sometimes unsafe environments • Families may flee in crisis; unaware of alternatives • HEARTH Act bars all HUD-funded shelters and transitional housing from refusing to serve families based on age of children What do Fixed, Regular and Adequate mean? • Fixed • Stationary, permanent, and not subject to change • Regular • Used on a predictable, routine or consistent basis • Adequate • Sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments From Law Into Practice • Determining eligibility is a case-by-case determination made by examining the living arrangement of each individual student. • Some instances will be clear-cut; others will require further inquiry and then a judgment call. • It is helpful to have a system in place to guide the process of determining eligibility • legal service agency may be resource to help ECE staff with training and reviewing policies Step 1: Get the Facts • Incorporate a question on a standard enrollment form for all families; this will assist with identifying eligible students. • If the form indicates a possible homeless situation, refer to appropriate staff for follow up. • Discuss the living arrangement in a private place and with sensitivity. Step 1: Get the Facts • Let parents know why you are asking about their living situation: not to invade their privacy, but to offer services. • Describe available help. • Do not contact landlords, etc., to probe for more information regarding the family’s living arrangement. Step 1: Get the Facts • Provide awareness activities for staff and community partners • Avoid using the word “homeless” • Describe the living situation instead of labeling it. For example, “Are you living there because you lost your housing? Is this a temporary situation?” Step 2: Analyze the Facts • Does the family’s living arrangement fit into one of the specific examples of homelessness in the law? • If so, the family is categorically eligible for Head Start, certain others. • If not • Does the student lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence? • If so, the student is categorically eligible for Head Start, certain others. Step 3: “Call for Back-up” • State/Local McKinney-Vento Liaison • State Head Start State Collaboration Office/Local Head Start Grantees http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov • National Center on Homeless Education www.serve.org/nche/ • NAEHCY The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Educational Rights of Children and Youth The McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program • Liaisons in every school district with responsibilities to identify homeless children, assist with enrollment and participation, ensure families receive Head Start • School Stability • Transportation • Immediate Enrollment • Enrolled During Disputes • Comparable Services Head Start: A Perfect Match for Homeless Families • Head Start provides comprehensive services that homeless children may not otherwise receive • Head Start’s focus on the entire family means parents receive assistance in reaching their goals • Community partnerships put Head Start in an excellent position to work with all agencies serving homeless families Head Start Act Requirements Related to Homelessness • Homeless children are categorically eligible for Head Start • Head Start programs are required to identify and prioritize homeless children for enrollment; • Allow homeless children to enroll while required paperwork is obtained • Coordinate with school district liaisons and other homeless community agencies Barriers to Early Childhood Programs for Families Experiencing Homelessness • Lack of awareness: Head Start programs may not know the definition of homelessness, MV liaisons may not be “fluent” in early childhood systems, HUD providers may not know “lay of the land” of ECE • Lack of ECE priority status for homelessness • Lack available slots for all eligible children, especially infants and toddlers, including those who are homeless • Lack of capacity to do outreach and targeted assistance • High mobility • Lack of transportation • Lack of documentation for enrollment Strategies for Awareness and Identification • ECE programs can incorporate questions on housing status on applications • McKinney-Vento liaisons can inquire about young siblings of school-age children • ECE programs and liaisons can include information on how to recognize homelessness in staff development/trainings/inservices • Recruit where homeless families live: shelters (including for unaccompanied youth), motels, etc. • Homeless service providers can document ages of all children at intake, and make referrals to Head Start, ECEAP, and other ECE programs Strategies for Awareness and Identification • Shelters can make sure that young children are assessed for developmental delays • New HUD contacts can be trained in assessment programs (Ages and Stages, Early Intervention programs, and Special Education Child Find) that provide indicators of potential developmental delays • Put posters, flyers, wallet cards in schools, family shelters, domestic violence shelters, low-cost motels, food banks, health clinics, employment and public benefits offices, social services offices, laundromats, and convenience stores. Strategies for Awareness and Identification •Hold family-oriented community events with opportunities to screen infants and toddlers for health and mental health needs and possible developmental delays. Offer transportation, food, health services, and other incentives and assistance to help homeless families attend. Strategies for Responding to Mobility • Prioritize children experiencing homelessness on waitlists and evaluation schedules • Include in parent handbook the importance of notifying the program when moving • Develop agreements to enable young homeless children to maintain their slot/placement even if they move out of program service areas Strategies for Responding to Mobility • Explore transportation services, including gas voucher, reimbursement, existing systems • Obtain parental consent for release of information from providers or liaison in order to obtain new addresses and continue to provide services when families move • In anticipation of mobility, develop joint procedures to expedite services and provide continuous services for highly mobile children. Strategies to Expedite Access • Liaisons and homeless service staff can provide Head Start/ECE applications to identified families and help fill them out • Expedite records by working together; e.g. liaisons can get immunization records, etc. for young siblings of school-age children • Develop joint or streamlined procedures and forms (e.g. housing intake forms) • legal service agency may be resource to help w/ training HUD-funded (HEARTH) staff about ECE programs (Part C, CCS, etc.) Scenarios and Discussion In your small group, read through the scenarios on your table and answer the questions. Scenarios #5 - #9 Reflection 2 Take a moment to reflect on the various strategies that can be used to overcome barriers and new approaches you might try in your program and community. Jot down a phrase or two to record your thoughts. Caucus Question #1 Creating Partnerships • Head Start/Early Head Start • State Head Start Association • Family Service Managers, Other Managers • McKinney-Vento Liaisons • Coalition to End Homelessness • Legal service agencies that focus on education or children's issues • Others????? Creating Partnerships • Desire to learn how other programs work • Desire to learn more about how other programs meet the needs of children and families • Opportunity to connect resources to provide more comprehensive services Fostering Collaborative Relationships • Commitment • Time • Sharing of Resources • Shared Goals and Objectives • Have the capacity to see “one” program, although served by multiple agencies Moving Toward Collaboration • Networking • Cooperation • Coordination • Coalition • Collaboration Networking • Loosely defined roles • Little communication • All decisions are made independently Cooperation • Provides information to one another • Somewhat defined roles • Formal communication • All decisions are made independently Coordination • Share information and resources • Defined roles • Frequent communication • Some shared decision making Coalition • Share ideas • Share resources • Frequent and prioritized communication • All members have a vote in decision making Collaboration • Members belong to one system • Frequent communication is characterized by mutual trust • Consensus is reached on all decisions Formalizing Agreements • Memorandum of Understanding “MOU” • Partner-Agency Agreements Components of an MOU • Vision – A short statement that articulates an alternative view of the community and answers the question of what it would look like if the group “got it right.” • Mission – a short statement that describes how the collaborative sees their work contributing to a vision. • Values and Assumptions – A short list with a brief explanation of key points of agreement regarding domestic and/or sexual violence. • Structure of the Collaboration – Explains how the collaboration will be structured, such aswho will chair the collaboration, the use of subcommitties or other relevant items. • Roles and Responsibilities – This section should articulate the expectations for participation, such as who will participate, what it means to participate and specific responsibilities for partners in the collaboration. Components cont. • Communication Practices – This section explicitly describes how communication will occur and may include items such as communication between meetings and recording and distribution of minutes. • Confidentiality Expectations – A brief statement regarding what, if any, of the collaboration work is intended to be confidential, what is meant by confidentiality and how potential exceptions to confidentiality will be handled. • Decision-Making Processes –A section explaining how decisions will be made and any additional decision-making rules. • Conflict Resolution Process – This section articulates a specific process of how conflicts among collaborative members will be resolved. • Communication Plan – Describes how communication with the media on behalf of the collaborative will be handles, should the occasion arise. Benefits of Effective Collaborations • Increased opportunities for young children • Shared decision making and responsiblites • Enhanced Commitment to Serve Families • Potential access to creativity and creative problem solving • New and expanded working relationships • Power in Numbers • Louder Voice to power Brokers • Less Bureaucracy • Increased Skills for children and increased professional skills for staff Partnerships to benefit Identification: Young Homeless Children • When working with families, inquire about the possibility of having younger children not in primary education • Partner with family shelter agencies to identify young children • Develop community awareness of who is eligible- including Pre-K children • Participate in community early childhood program outreach activities, parent fairs, school open houses • Provide professional development to early childhood education programs Partnerships to benefit Identification: Young Homeless Children • Connect with local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in your community • CCRRs can educate staff on the local childcare landscape in your community Early Care and Education Landscape • Head Start & Early Head Start • Child Care • IDEA • State Pre- Kindergarten Programs • Other Early Care and Education Partners Knowing YOUR Landscape Using the grid that has been handed out to you, fill in the boxes for your community partners. Sharing Resources and Information • Program locations, contact lists, emails • Head Start, Early Head Start, • McKinney-Vento Liaisons in LEA’s, • Family Shelters, Transitional Living, Supportive Housing, • Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, • Preschool/Child Care/IDEA • Others? • Conference & meeting schedules; publications Team Development Educating all on the landscape of partnership possibilities.... • Who are the partners? • What do they call themselves? • Who are the point people? • How can I contact them? • What to they do? • What resources do they have? • How can I access their resources? • How can we help one another? Team Development • Inviting potential partners, assigned seating • Time/visits, process for “Getting to Know You” • Structured, facilitated team-building opportunities • Requiring partners for participation – who’s missing? • Teams work, team assignments, team time for meetings, follow-up activities Reflection 3 Take a moment to reflect on existing and potential resources in your community and how you could create new relationships to support the work you are doing. Jot down a phrase or two to record your thoughts. Cross Training • Cross-system orientation • McKinney-Vento training • Early childhood training • Mental health and trauma • Safe Families, Safe Homes; Strengthening Families, etc. • Others? Cross-sector Administration • Data collection and sharing • Serving together on advisories, committees • Circulating one another’s information • MOUs – add what MJ sent -- #10 Procedural and Policy Change Change policies and practices of own program • data collection • referral procedures • language on forms, prioritization • others? Work together to change local, state policy • e.g., child care vouchers • enrollment barriers • Others? TANF • Federally-funded block grant program to provide cash assistance to low-income families with children • Pregnant women without other children qualify • Participation in work activity program mandatory with some exceptions TANF • TANF recipient with child under 6 years old cannot be sanctioned if 20 hours of work activity completed each week • Homelessness may be considered a “family crisis” and basis to be excused from work activity • Other reasons to be excused from work activity: domestic violence, illness, disability, no transportation, etc. Planning Where should programs begin? PIR - Head Start already serves homeless families • total families served • homeless families served • total children served • homeless children served • families acquiring housing Planning • Include data about homeless children in community assessments • Conduct self-assessments to determine strengths and weaknesses regarding services to homeless children • Contact local school district homeless education liaisons, and others to obtain data Community Assessment Data Sample questions for community needs assessments: • How many families are homeless? • What efforts are made to identify them? • What are the trends? • Where do homeless families stay? • What is the level of employment of homeless families? • What is the availability of child care? • What resources exist in the community? • What task forces or coalitions exist? Community Assessment Data • What additional state or school-district preschool programs exist? How do they serve homeless children? • What transportation resources exist in the community that could be tapped? • Who are the homeless education liaisons in the communities in the service area? What do the homeless education programs look like? • What state child care licensing policies exist that might encourage or, conversely, pose barriers to enrolling and serving homeless children? Collaborative Planning • Engage as partners in natural planning processes and activities of programs • Head Start Policy Council and Advisories • Head Start Community Assessment • Building in planning time at collaborative events • Work together on local plans • Continuum of Care, annual point-in-time count • Early Childhood Councils • Work together on State plans • McKinney-Vento, Head Start Collaboration, Child Care, MCHB Home Visiting, Others? • the most direct way to affect policy changes at the local level is to participate in the CCDF planning process which occurs every 2 years; example-- push for priority for homeless families to get CCS Data Sharing and Planning • Share data on homelessness everywhere you go...... • Make sure data on the needs of young children experiencing homelessness is included everywhere you go...... Monitor Data - Address Challenges Example: Attendance • Inconsistent attendance; • Parental consent to obtain forwarding address to continue participation, transition to another Head Start • High turnover • Fluid wait list, enrollment documents complete • Must document specific challenges of serving homeless families • Full enrollment – if falls below, must document and analyze • 2007 Head Start Act has attendance waiver if program can show significant population of highly mobile children such as homeless and foster care Attendance Challenges and Strategies Challenges Strategies Lack of Community and school district transportation collaboration, home-based models High mobility Allow child to remain in program, when in his/her best interest, when family moves; include in parent handbook the importance of notifying program when moving Lack of full-day Assist families to access child care program and child subsidy, family child care model, care community collaboration TANF Work activity may create barrier and at same time opportunity to access child care subsidy for before/after care Special Projects • Cross-sector survey • Grant partnerships • Others? Caucus Question #2 Result: Greater Visibility of Young Children who are Homeless • Bringing comprehensive services to children and families who need them • Creating forums for working through barriers to service • Including housing providers in the early childhood community • Insuring better health and school readiness of low- income children • Timely focus of Race to the Top! Lessons Learned • Consistency, perseverance • When one door closes another always opens – find the path to shared action • Continue to engage new partners • Find ways to support providers and keep homelessness a high priority for all • Circle around again and again and again • Stay informed and inform others The Path Taken Many paths lead to the same place! Every community is different and the point of entry can be through many doors to achieve a shared goal........ All children healthy and successful in school and life. Implementation Planning Reflections to Actions 1. Using your three reflections on the work we’ve done today, take a moment to record an action or two that you will take when you return to your program 2. Share your Action Plan with another person, or two, or three..... Scenarios and Debriefing Scenarios #5 - #9 Resources - ECLKC Office of Head Start – Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center – Search ECLKC - enter “homelessness” Go to: Training and Technical Assistance System: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system From there, go to Parent, Family, and Community Engagement From there, go to Crisis Support From there, go to Homelessness Online Lessons Resources • National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth • http://www.naehcy.org • National Center on Homeless Education • http://www.serve.org/nche • National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center • http://www.nectac.org • Horizons for Homeless Children • http://www.horizonsforhomelesschildren.org • Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP -- http://wsaheadstarteceap.com • Parent Training and Information Centers • http://www.taalliance.org/centers/index.htm • (888) 248-0822 Additional Resources • NCHE’s preschool page: www.serve.org/nche/ibt/sc_preschool.php • McKinney-Vento full text and Policy Guidance: www.serve.org/nche/m-v.php • Project HOPE’s publications page: www.wm.edu/hope/infobrief/infobrief.html Helping Young Children Grow & Learn: A Guide for Families & Shelter Providers Using the Best That We Know: Supporting Young Children Experiencing Homelessness Unlocking Potential! What Families and Shelters Need to Know About Homelessness and Special Education 2003 Unlocking Potential! What Educators Need to Know About Homelessness and Special Education 2003 Challenges / Solutions -- Homelessness Nothing will work if YOU don’t work!
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