Department of Education October 29, 2004 SUBJECT: Categorical Eligibility for Free Lunches and Breakfasts of Runaway, Homeless, and Migrant Youth: Reauthorization 2004 Implementation NSLP – 75.1 TO: Authorized Representatives Child Nutrition Program FROM: Sandra M. Kangas, Director Child & Adult Nutrition Services Numbered memo NSLP 75 previously dealt with the issue of eligibility of Homeless Children in the National School Lunch Program. This updated information supersedes that memo. A copy of this information should be given to the person who approves applications for free and reduced price meals and the original should be placed in the numbered memo notebook from Child and Adult Nutrition Services. The memo is also available on the Child & Adult Nutrition Services website. Section 107 of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Act) amended section 9(b) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make runaway, homeless and migrant children categorically eligible for free meal benefits under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and was effective July 1, 2004. In addition to establishing free meal eligibility, the Act also establishes a requirement for documenting a child’s status as runaway, homeless, or migratory. Previously, through guidance, the Food and Nutrition Service extended categorical eligibility for free school meals to children considered homeless under the McKinney- Vento Homeless Assistance Act. (See NSLP #75 issued 12/12/2002). School officials were allowed to accept statements that children were homeless from the local educational liaison for the homeless or directors of homeless shelters where the children reside. That part has not changed. There were, however, no similar eligibility and documentation provisions for runaway youth or migrant children. The Act now establishes in law the categorical eligibility of these children for free school meals. For children of migrant families, the SD State Department of Education has an established process for determining if a child meets the criteria provided under Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The school coordinator of migrant programs has a listing of children who are verified with a Certificate of Eligibility for Child and Adult Nutrition Services - DOE 800 Governors Drive; Pierre, SD 57501-2294 Office: 605-773-3413 Fax: 605-773-6846 http://www.state.sd.us/deca/CSCF/CANS/index.htm NSLP – 85 Page 2 Migrant Education. It is acceptable for the school coordinator of migrant programs to share that information. This should, of course, be treated as confidential information outside of the eligibility to share between/among state and federal education programs. Continuing Certification of Migrant Children Public Law 108-265 also amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish that, once a child is certified as eligible to receive free or reduced price meals, eligibility remains effective for the remainder of the school year. Policy further allows SFAs to continue a child’s eligibility from the previous year for 30 operating days into the subsequent school year or until a new eligibility determination is made, whichever occurs first. Because of this and because the Migrant Education Program strives to minimize a child’s disruption in services and benefits, SFAs should attempt to share the child’s free meal eligibility status with the new SFA when a migrant child moves from their jurisdiction if the family knows their new location. Documenting Eligibility of Runaway/Homeless Youth The systems for coordination of information about Runaway/Homeless Youth (RHY) can vary depending on the relationship between the McKinney-Vento school district liaison and the RHY service provider, and the size of the RHY caseload. In many cases, the McKinney-Vento school district liaison is already working with youth receiving services under the RHY grant programs. In these cases, school districts will be notified of a child’s status as a runaway through the existing liaison channels. In some cases, schools may receive information on a youth’s participation in a RHY Program directly from the RHY service provider. Documentation to substantiate free meal eligibility must consist of the youth’s name, or a list of names, effective date(s), and the signature of the McKinney-Vento school district liaison or the RHY service provider(s). This documentation is acceptable in lieu of a free and reduced price meal application. It is important that schools/school districts become familiar with their local RHY service providers and their McKinney-Vento school district liaison in order to facilitate the service of free school meals for youth in these programs. Schools may find it useful to keep a listing of these newly-categorically eligible students with the applications for free and reduced price meals if a list is not provided by the other programs. You may want to use a roster similar to that utilized in residential child care institutions (see attachment D in the agreement). This is not a requirement, only a suggestion that may be helpful to manage the list. If you would like further guidance or have additional questions related to this matter, please call our office at (605) 773-3413.