2018 Homeless Edition



Photo, Getty Images


Helping Homeless Youth

Succeed in College

By Giselle Danger-Mercaderes

Postsecondary education is becoming increasingly vital for gaining employment that pays

enough to afford housing. Postsecondary education is an important determinant in

breaking the cycle of homelessness and improving overall well-being of youth

experiencing homelessness.

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) supports the transition to postsecondary

education for homeless students. Under the Act, local educational agency (LEA) homeless

liaisons are required to ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth are informed of their status

as independent students for college financial aid and obtain assistance to receive verification for

the FAFSA. Another important mandate is that State McKinney-Vento plans must describe how

homeless youth will receive assistance from school counselors to improve their readiness for


Homeless students often face difficult barriers to transition to college. Barriers can be

particularly challenging for homeless you who have histories of trauma, mobility, and lack of

natural family support. Teachers, counselors, McKinney-Vento liaisons, school homeless liaisons

and service providers can play a key role in supporting the decision to go to college and assisting

youth in the transition.





By Julie McCullough

With contributions from Erin Klein and Tonia Nolden

It’s Friday, October afternoon in Jefferson

County. The temperatures during the day is a

comfortable 65. Families and children are on

their way home from work and school. Most

of them are thinking about the fun Fall

activities they will experience this weekend.

A few are consumed with entirely different

thoughts. They are picking up their kids

from school, riding the TARC, standing

outside a shelter, or sitting in their car filled

with the overwhelming stress and fear of

homelessness. Their thoughts are flowing

one after another: Where will we sleep

tonight, I don’t even have enough gas to get

to the shelter, the Coalition bed line said

there is a wait list, the shelter is full, there are

no resources, I can’t afford a TARC ticket,

it’s getting late, it’s getting colder, Where

will I go…

Every afternoon students in JCPS leave

school to these questions. Weekends are likely the worst time for these students as they are not even

sure if they will have a safe place to return to until Monday morning when school starts again.

This year the Office of Student Equity and Community Engagement has encountered significantly

more unsheltered families than in years past. Last year on average about one family a month was

identified as living in a car, in a foreclosed property, on the streets, etc. Most of these families were

able to obtain shelter quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. This year our office is often tracking at

least one to two families a week that are currently living in this situation or recently identified as



Unfortunately, the shelters are full, and have been full since this summer. Right now, it is truly a

challenge to find shelter and housing for families experiencing homelessness in Louisville. So

how do we support our most vulnerable families and youth? We interviewed staff from

Louisville Coalition for The Homeless to provide some insight into the problem set and answers

to this question.

Coalition for the Homeless has a multitude of supports and programs that are set out to prevent

homelessness or support persons experiencing homelessness. Their prevention and diversion

program specifically, will work to prevent families and individuals from becoming unsheltered.

They have advocates that will work with community resources, mediate with family members,

work with landlords, reach out to our schools and district, etc. They also have a housing

Navigator that will assist families with locating affordable housing. The prevention and

diversion program will

also conduct

assessments and verify

homelessness. They

will then use those

assessments to

determine programs

best suited for the

family or individual

and connect them to a

multitude of resources

throughout the city.

Coalition for the

Homeless is also the

single point of entry

for all shelter spaces in

the city. They manage

the family wait list for shelters. As such they have an existing relationship with the shelters so

that when a space does become available they are the first to know and have the opportunity to

make referrals.

One of the most important things for school and district staff to understand when explaining the

shelter system to a family is that Coalition for the Homeless is the Single Point of Entry for all

shelter space in the city. There is an existing wait list that is prioritized not by when you call, but

by a needs assessment. Every family is different, and every situation is different. A multitude of

factors will determine the families’ priority for shelter. Furthermore, the Coalition for the

Homeless will scrub the list on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important for families to call on a

regular basis. Our office recommends families call every two days or every time their shelter/

housing situation changes. Since Coalition for the Homeless also has prevention programs

families should also call when they first believe they may experience housing instability, such as

receipt of an eviction notice.


For schools in contact with unsheltered families, it is important to be sensitive, but also set

realistic expectations with parents about the situation. As it stands there is currently an eviction

crisis and lack of affordable housing in the metro area. Therefore, families currently in shelters,

even those that already have housing vouchers, are struggling to obtain the housing needed to

move out of the shelter.

This has contributed to a

lack of turnover, and

families that have

recently lost housing are

now waiting on the

limited shelter spaces

that exists. Ultimately,

even unsheltered

families may wait a

number of weeks before

obtaining shelter. Some

may meet criteria that

help them obtain shelter

a little quicker, but it still

may be several days or

more. It is important to

inform families that

obtaining immediate

shelter may not be

possible on a given day.

Staff at the Office of Student Equity & Community Engagement know firsthand this is a hard

conversation to have. To make the conversation easier we recommend a few things. First, listen.

Families experiencing homelessness are exposed to an incredible amount of stress and trauma.

This may be expressed in any number of ways to include: a quiet resolute demeanor, crying,

yelling, etc. One of the best things we can do to support a family when they are explaining their

situation is to just listen. When a family senses that we are listening, they are more likely to open

up and share not only their full situation, but details that may be helpful in seeking resources for

their support. Even when we cannot solve the problem in that moment, the family at least has the

opportunity to express their feelings This lets them know you care. The next aspect of the

conversation may be to address any concerns or fears that the family has about confidentiality or

reporting. One of the biggest fears families may have is that they will be reported to Child

Protective Services if they do not have a home, running water, heat, etc. Homelessness in and of

itself is not a reportable offense. It is critical that we let our families know this and help them feel

comfortable sharing their story, so they can obtain needed resources. Finally, do not make any


false promises. Be supportive, but do not set expectations. We build trust by being honest, and

following through with what we can do.

Staff from the Coalition for the homeless prevention and diversion team had several other

recommendations that may be helpful for our families. As stated previously, the first

recommendation is always for the family to call the Coalition for the Homeless and get support as

early as possible to try and prevent the family from becoming unsheltered. Once a family reaches

out to the Coalition it is important to maintain regular contact with this office. They should also

update critical information such as their living situation which may change the priority for shelter,

and their phone number which will impact the ability for the

Coalition to reach a family when shelter space becomes available.

Next, we should ask the family or youth about family and friends if

they have not mentioned this already. We can ask the family is there

is anyone they know that would allow them to stay with them for a

little while to provide a reprieve. The family can try to reach out and

explain the situation. Even family members that have not had

contact in a while may be willing to help once they hear the situation.

Another preventive measure schools can take is to build relationships

with local resources. Having an existing relationship with nearby

resources will make it easier to reach out when a family is in crisis

with nowhere to go.

Student Equity and Community Engagement will also work with schools to try and maintain

contact with any unsheltered families. When the temperatures are extreme we should remind them

that specific shelters (Salvation Army, Wayside, and St. Vincent DePaul (Men)) will take in any

unsheltered adults and families during white flag conditions. In addition, youth under 18 are

always welcome at Safe Place. Unfortunately, there are unsheltered families and youth in

Louisville. When we are aware that the temperatures have met white flag criteria we should reach

out to our families in this situation and make sure they are aware they can go to the shelter. We are

always honest with our families and explain that the shelter might not be comfortable. If there is no

family space, the family may end up sleeping on mats on the floor. While it is not comfortable, it

is a reprieve from the heat or the cold with showers and warm food. This contact with a shelter

may also benefit the family in the sense that it will lend evidence to the family’s situation which

may ultimately increase the family’s priority level for shelter or housing.

Finally, if there are no other options we recommend families go to Wayside shelter and request

support. The family can always receive a meal and often take showers at this location. The

Student Equity & Community engagement Office will provide TARC tickets for unsheltered

families to get to a shelter for safety. If a family is living in a vehicle we may also calculate the

distance from the school to the shelter to get the family back and forth to the school while the

family is working to gain stable shelter.

One of the biggest things schools and district staff can do is provide our families with helpful

resources. Many of our families can “fill the gap.” The gap means the time that a parent may have


while the child is in school. For some of our parents this time is filled with work. Others may

use this time to seek out resources that may be helpful for their family. Resources specifically

mentioned by Coalition staff include Jewish Family & Career Services (2821 Klempner Way,

40205), The Nia Center (2900 W. Broadway, 40211), Community Ministries (http://

www.louisvilleministries.org/) , Uniting Partners for Women and Children (day shelter for

women and children, https://www.uplouisville.org/), Jump Start Kentucky (for youth 18-24,

contact nthornton@trueuplouisville.com) TAYLRD (Youth 18-24, drop in center, http://

www.taylrd.org/louisville_dropin_center.php) , Family Scholar House, and Project Keep Safe

(Home of the Innocents program designed to provide care to children while parents receive

treatment for health issues, substance abuse, etc). Additional resources our office refers

families to are Neighborhood Place, Louisville Urban League, and the Housing Navigator

(Alayna Winburn) at Coalition for the Homeless. Numerous other resources in Louisville can

be found by category on a web application called LouieConnect (http://


Families can also be supported through both small and large efforts. Some of the little things

many schools are already doing through there the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers

include: keeping a bank of resources on hand (flyers, pamphlets, etc.) maintaining food,

hygiene items, and uniforms on hand, providing Blessings in a Backpack, washing clothing

items for students, and allowing students to take showers or wash up at the school before

classes began. Schools could potentially even allow students to wash clothes after school hours

based on school policy and if the school has a washer/dryer. Some of the larger supports

Coalition recommended is holding a school resources fair; possibly at an activity parents will

already be present for, such as parent teacher conferences. Schools could also create

partnerships so that students can be served through shared resources. Another huge way,

anyone in the city can help a family is by participating in the cities Host Home program. This is

a pilot project in which volunteer families provide temporary housing for young adults from

age 18-24. Those interested can find more information through the link provided here: http://


One of the largest contributing factors to homelessness today is lack of affordable housing.

Unfortunately, this is not an issue that can be addressed overnight. However, all of us can work

to show compassion and support for our families experiencing homelessness. While we cannot

always house or shelter a family overnight, we can work to provide them with the resources

and tools needed to meet their most basic needs and obtain shelter as quickly as possible. We

ask that our schools and community work to support our families, and maybe someday every

child will go home on a Fall Friday excited for weekend activities.



Tips for Educators

and McKinney-Vento


1. Support the homeless identification and

make sure eligible students are connected

with the Student Equity and Community

Engagement Department.

2. Reach out to McKinney-Vento eligible

students as early as freshman year to

schedule meetings to discuss postsecondary

options (e.g. four-year institutions,

community colleges, technical colleges,

etc.). Continue meeting with these students

throughout the year to answer questions,

serve as a resource, and remind them of

deadlines. Create a checklist to review each

time you meet to keep them on track. 3. If

students are interested in postsecondary

education, make sure they take the ACT/

SAT exams. Most low-income and

homeless students will qualify for fee

waivers (ACT & SAT). The Student

Equity and Community Engagement can

fund for ACT/SAT exams for homeless

students when needed.

4. Encourage all students to complete the

FAFSA immediately. Even if students

aren’t committed to postsecondary plans, it

is important for them to fill out the FAFSA

so they can receive financial aid if they do

decide to attend higher education.

5. There might be scholarship opportunities

for students, including our Student Equity

Conference and Scholarships.

6. Host a college tour. A college tour is a

great way to experience college life firsthand

and imagine oneself there.

7. Be aware of state laws that offer in-state

tuition, tuition, and fee waivers like

Florida, California, and Maryland.

Tuition and/or Fee Waivers for youth

experiencing homelessness

California AB 801 (2016) (Ca.

Educ. Code §76300)

Homeless students are exempt from

paying community college student


Florida §1009.25 (1991)

• A student who lacks a fixed, regular

and adequate nighttime residence,

or who lives in a shelter or a public

or private place not ordinarily used

as regular accommodation, is

exempt from the payment of tuition


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and fees for a school district workforce education program, Florida College System

institution, or state university.


HB 482

(2014) and

HB 400

(2016) (Ann.

Code of Md.


unaccompanied homeless youth or foster care recipient is exempt from paying tuition

at a public institution of higher education, if the youth is enrolled as a candidate for a

vocational certification, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree prior to turning 25

years old and has applied for federal and state financial aid. Exemption lasts for five

years or until the student receives a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first.


Washington SB 2674 (2018)

• Through the Passport to Careers Program, unaccompanied homeless youth and foster

youth receive a scholarship that assists with the cost of attending college (tuition, fees,

books, housing, transportation, and some personal expenses). To meet eligibility

requirements, students must be enrolled at least on a half-time basis with an institution

of higher education or a registered apprenticeship or preapprenticeship in Washington

state by age 21 and not pursue a degree in theology. An eligible student will receive

the scholarship for a maximum of five years after the student first enrolls, or until the

students turns 26 years old, whichever occurs first.





By Debra Albo-Steiger, District Homeless Liaison for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.


ugust and September 2017 brought three powerful storms that affected three different regions

of the United States. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25,

2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in

Florida on September 9, 2018, and

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto

Rico on September 20, 2017. Needless

to say, these three storms affecting three

areas in such short period of time

impacted not only the lives of people

and the infrastructure of the

communities, but also the assistance

needed for the victims of these storms.

Immediately after Harvey, I reached out

to the Homeless Liaison from Houston,

who described the devastation and those

she knew who lost everything from the storm. I offered whatever assistance that I could provide

from Miami, not realizing that just a mere two weeks later, our community would also be hit by a

storm. Overall, Miami-Dade County was “lucky” with Hurricane Irma, especially compared to

neighboring Monroe County and the middle Florida Keys, which saw massive destruction. Our

district missed seven days of schools and loss of power for one week on average, which was trivial

compared to what we were seeing in Monroe County and Houston. When Hurricane Maria hit

Puerto Rico less than two weeks later, no one could put into words the devastation we all saw on

television and the stories we heard for months after as our community welcomed students from

Puerto Rico into our schools.

The trauma faced by the children, youth, and adults who experience hurricanes or any natural

disaster can be felt for years. A year after these storms, we still see the hardship faced by so many

with roofs that have not been repaired and homes that were not able to be saved. The support

needed for our students who are in homeless situations, especially after facing such a crisis, can be


Continue on next page

overwhelming. As the Homeless Education Program, Project UP-START, we try to do our best to

support our students

without stable housing.

During the 2017-2018

school year, the series

of natural disasters that

affected our country

which destroyed the

homes of youth and

families due to

hurricanes, floods, and

fires was

unprecedented. After

Hurricane Irma

disturbed the lives of so

many in our own

community, and then

Hurricane Maria

brought students and

families from Puerto

Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Miami-Dade County, the importance of the McKinney-Vento

sub-grant became evident more than ever. With the help of the McKinney-Vento sub-grant, we are

able to serve our students who have been displaced from their homes by offering resources during

a very vulnerable time in their lives. Losing a home is devastating both physically and

emotionally, especially when so many families are separated during homelessness. Thankfully, our

Project UP-START team through the McKinney Vento sub-grant ensures that our students are able

to have the tools they need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom, even when they are

without a place to call home.

Our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, as well as the many

other natural disasters that have impacted so many parts of the country. Please know that our

community and so many others are available to assist in whatever way we can whenever you are

ready for us. A year later and still in the process of rebuilding, we remember those who reached

out to us after Hurricane Irma and are grateful to continue to help students in our community and

other communities throughout the country experiencing homelessness due to natural disasters.





By Milenia Hernandez

In Jefferson County Public School each school has a McKinney-Vento liaison that can support and connect with families

with needed services. This will allow us to respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters effectively.

School districts that have been impacted heavily by disasters agree that the McKinney-Vento Act was the cornerstone of their

response. The following basic checklist can guide the immediate responses to support displaced students.


1. It is crucial to identify homeless children and youth as immediately. Students displaced due to natural disaster are the

McKinney-Vento eligible. a) Have enrollment staff use Residency forms / McKinney-Vento enrollment forms for all enrolling

students. Remember that Residency forms are

available in multiple languages. b) Disseminate

McKinney-Vento Information to displaced families.

c) McKinney-Vento posters that describe student

eligibility and provide local liaison contact

information must be visible to all school visitors.

2. Contact the student Equity and Community

Engagement immediately to ensure the eligible

students are identified in IC and provided with the

services they need including transportation.

3. Enroll homeless students immediately even if

they lack school records, proof of address, birth

certificate, immunization records, and proof of


4. Ensure proper academic placement.

5. Request transportation immediately when needed using the Homeless app or by calling the Equity and Community

Engagement Department.

6. Review and revise school policies to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention in school of children and youth

experiencing homelessness.

7. Homeless verification must be handled in such a way that it does not violate privacy or jeopardize housing arrangements.

School district’s attempts to verify a student’s eligibility for McKinney-Vento services must be governed by respect, sensitivity,

and reasonable limits. When in doubt, the district staff must always enroll the student immediately and should seek support from

the Coordinator of Homeless Education

Additional Resources

What School District Administrators Should Know About the Educational Rights of Children and Youth Displaced by Disasters



This Was Not Supposed To Happen To Me…

By Jonathan Houston, Equal Opportunity Schools, former Tukwila School District, WA liaison

This was not supposed to happen to me.” That was the first thought that went through my mind during my

first year as a McKinney-Vento liaison. I finally had a decent job and began to progress toward my

professional career in providing equity. I was the guy who was supposed to help everybody else…but

homelessness was not supposed to happen to me.

They say denial is the first step in the road to recovery. At that time, I found myself

without housing and living in a hotel. My newly formed blended-family of six was

supposed to find a three-bedroom house that would accommodate us all, and

perhaps another child. Instead, we had to put up a sheet to split the extended stay

room that was like a studio. Boys on the floor, my step daughter on one bed, and

me and my wife on the other bed. Being in such a tight space forced us to confront

the worst parts of each other. How could healthy growth occur in such an

environment? Perhaps that is why the first pregnancy miscarried in the hotel

bathroom. Again, I thought, “this is not supposed to happen to me.”

However, if homelessness is not supposed to happen to me, then who is it supposed

to happen to? Before that first night in the hotel, I would proclaim advocacy with

my mouth. I would profess that homelessness can happen to anyone. But when I was forced to confront the real

reality, I was the first to reject the surreal experience. After that first night in the hotel, I began to realize the hard

truth of homelessness. The sight of kids playing in the parking lot of a sketchy hotel (because that is their

playground) woke me to the truth. I remember looking in shock as I watched kids leave their bikes in the

parking lot with more acceptance of their situation then I was comfortable to lend.

With my income and discomfort with this living arrangement, I anxiously determined not to remain a resident.

But it was clear to me that the children I saw playing had an aesthetic resilience that allowed them to normalize

what I felt was not fitting to happen to me.

However, the question remains: if homelessness wasn’t supposed to happen to me, why should it happen to


Jonathan has moved to a new position at Equal Opportunity Schools and continues to contribute his insights to

SchoolHouse Connection as an Advisory Board member.



Martin v. Boise

(Boise, Idaho)


he Martin v. Boise

case is part of a

nationwide effort against

the criminalization of

homelessness, led by the

National Law Center on

Homelessness & Poverty

and more than 700 groups

and individuals who

support the Housing Not

Handcuffs Campaign.

Across Unites states,

cities have laws and

policies that criminalize

homelessness, making it illegal for people to sit, sleep, and even eat in public places

—despite the absence of housing or even shelter, and other basic resources.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty explains that “these laws and

policies violate constitutional rights, create arrest records and fines & fees that stand

in the way of homeless people getting jobs or housing, and don’t work”. The evidence

is strong that homelessness is reduced in communities that focus on affordable

housing, and not those that focus on handcuffs. The criminalization of homelessness

costs more money than simply solving the problem by ensuring access to adequate





When Legal Guardians Are Not Present:

Enrolling Students on Their Own

In most schools, enrollment procedures are established on the

expectation that students are living with their parents or legal

guardians. Requiring parents or legal guardians to sign

forms upon enrolling/registering students provides

schools with protection from different types of liability

and with contact information for situations in which

additional permissions are needed.

In a number of instances, however, students who are enrolling

in a school may not be living with their parents or legal

guardians. Often, students in families experiencing

homelessness are sent to live temporarily with friends or

relatives. This type of living arrangement has been especially

prevalent in Jefferson County Public Schools. Other students have been forced to leave

home due to abusive and neglectful environments or are on their own for other reasons.

These children and youth, in most cases, fit the definition of homeless, unaccompanied youth in the

McKinney-Vento Act: a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian [42 U.S.C.

§11434A(6)] and eligible for immediate school enrollment.

The McKinney-Vento Act requires school districts to enroll homeless children and youth in school

immediately, even if they lack document normally required for enrollment. Enrollment is defined as

“attending classes and participating fully in school activities” [42 U.S.C. §11434A(1)].) The Act also

mandate states to review and revise any policy that may act as a barrier to the enrollment of homeless

children and youth and requires states to give attention to guardianship issues [42 U.S.C. §§11432(g)


Therefore, schools cannot require the receipt of proof of legal guardianship by caregivers of homeless,

unaccompanied youth. Schools cannot require caregivers to become legal guardians within a certain

period of time after the child enrolls in school. In addition, it is crucial to note that the absence of an

available caregiver must not obstruct enrollment. Unaccompanied, homeless youth who are on their

own completely must be enrolled in school immediately. Elementary, middle and high schools are

mandated to enroll homeless students immediately. School is the safest place to be for children who

may be in danger. Effective McKinney-Vento implementation helps make schools district a safe place

for homeless students.


Caregiver Authorization Forms are available to use when appropriate:





Q: Is there a time limit on how long a child or youth can be considered homeless?

A: No, there is no specific time limit on homelessness. Homelessness is not confined to a school year.

Whether a child or youth meets the definition of homelessness depends upon the living situation and the

individual circumstances.

Q: What criteria should be used to determine if housing is “substandard”?

A: The U.S. Department of Education has determined that factors to consider in determining whether

housing is “substandard” include whether the housing “lacks one of the fundamental utilities such as water,

electricity, or heat; is infested with vermin or mold; lacks a functional part such as a working kitchen or a

working toilet; or may present unreasonable dangers to adults, children, or persons with disabilities.”

Q: Are children and youth who live in trailer homes or trailer parks covered by the Act?

A: Under some circumstances, yes. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, children and youth who live in trailer

parks are covered by the Act if they live in the trailer park “due to the lack of

alternative adequate accommodations.” 42 U.S.C. §11434A(2)(B)(i). Therefore, whether children and youth

living in trailer parks are covered by the Act is a case-by-case determination to be made by the local

McKinney-Vento liaison, in light of the family's circumstances. To make a determination liaisons need to

consider the adequacy of the trailer home, including the number of people living in the trailer, the condition

of the trailer, and the availability of running water, electricity, and other standard utilities.

Q: In the event that a parent is urgently hospitalized for illness or surgery and the child moves temporarily

with a relative in another town, should we consider the child to be homeless?

A: Yes. The child is sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar

reason. The emergency generating the child’s move is similar to the exigencies of homelessness. The child

cannot remain at home alone, so the parent has no choice but to make urgent, temporary arrangements with a

family member. Consequently, schools must have policies in place to accommodate these situations, ensure

school stability, and prevent unnecessary delay in the child’s enrollment.

Q:Is there any procedure in place to prevent families who have permanent housing from claiming to be

homeless just to obtain McKinney-Vento services?

A: Yes. Every district must designate a liaison for students experiencing homelessness who is able to carry

out their duties under the law. One of the liaison's duties is to identify children and youth who meet the

statutory definition of homelessness. The process usually includes processing an eligibility disputes to ensure

access to due process.

Above, a JCPS student is welcomed by

Flash Dads at Wheatley Elementary



By Christy Ward


Teachers play an important role in the lives of their

students- especially our homeless students. The

teacher may provide the feeling of stability and

safety in the chaotic life of a homeless student.

Below listed are some strategies to help teachers

with classroom environment/culture and improving

academic performance.

The tips were taken from the NCHE website.The

entire article can be found at: https://nche.ed.gov/

Strategies to Help Teachers Improve the Classroom Environment/ Culture

❖ Examine the student’s record for grades, attendance, and background information.

❖ Spend some individual time in the first couple of days to encourage students, ensure they are

adjusting well, and that they understand your willingness to help.

❖ Offer tutoring or review time before or after school or at lunch.

❖ Watch for indications that the student is struggling to adjust

academically, socially, or psychologically.

❖ Create referral procedures for new students who have

difficulty adjusting.

❖ Form a “new student” group.

❖ Set up a mentoring or peer buddy program.

❖ Offer a welcome bag or backpack with school supplies

and snacks.

❖ Keep snacks in the classroom for students who are so

hungry they fall asleep.

❖ Respect students’ right to privacy. Everyone does not need to know

their living arrangements.

❖ Ensure that students do not feel singled out because of their living circumstances.


Strategies to Help Teachers Improve the Academic Performance of Homeless/Highly Mobile


❖ Provide clear, achievable expectations. While it is important to consider their challenges and

show compassion to Homeless/Highly Mobile students, do not lower academic requirements

for them.



❖ Offer tutoring. Thirty or forty minutes a few times a week can dramatically increase a

homeless child’s achievement level (Knowlton, 2006).

❖ Assemble a packet with information and expectations for each class.

❖ Be aware that each school move can delay academic progress and that many HHM students

find it more difficult to engage and learn because of their prior negative school experiences,

such as attending schools where transient students were not well supported.

❖ Be flexible with assignments. Some tasks, such as projects requiring materials that students

cannot afford, might be difficult or impossible for mobile students to complete.

Assignments to write about a summer vacation, conduct a backyard science project,

construct a family tree, or bring in a baby picture can be impossible for a child who has

moved frequently or suddenly. Instead, offer several alternatives from which all students

can choose.

❖ Allow students to finish assignments independently, or give them the opportunity to

complete tasks at their own pace.

❖ Create a portfolio to document the student’s work, personal characteristics, and preferred

learning style. If the student must transfer, the portfolio offers the next teacher a quick, easy

way to pick up where the former teacher left off (Berliner, 2002).

❖ Rather than interpreting parental absences as a lack of commitment to their children’s

education, ask families what you can do to support an ongoing partnership. Phone

conferences might be a good alternative. Initiating an interactive journal with the parent

about what’s happening at school and at home could help with teacher–parent dialogue.

❖ Offer after-hours (evening or Saturday) and off-site parent meetings.

❖ Talk with parents about class expectations and the challenges of changing schools mid-year.

❖ Allow a variety of method and topic options for student assignments.

❖ Broaden the diversity of families depicted in the books and materials in the classroom to

include homeless, foster, and other mobile family and youth situations.

❖ Consider doing a unit on foster care during May (National Foster Care Month) or on hunger

and homelessness in November (National Homeless Youth Awareness month and National

Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week).



Operation White Flag

By: Kasey Carlson

As the seasons change and temperatures drop

here in Louisville, most of us already have the

heat turned on in our homes and are staying

warm and cozy at night. Unfortunately, not everyone in

Louisville has a warm place to stay at night and as it gets

colder. Hypothermia becomes a safety concern for those

that are homeless and staying on the streets.

The Coalition for the Homeless strives to keep

individuals living outside safe with a program called

Operation White Flag. Operation White Flag is a program

that ensures homeless people can find shelter during

extreme temperatures. When the wind chill is at or below

35 degrees Fahrenheit or the heat index is at or above 95

degrees Fahrenheit Operation White Flag goes into effect.

The shelters in Louisville that participate in Operation

White Flag are St. Vincent DePaul, Salvation Army, and

Wayside Christian Mission. St. Vincent DePaul Shelter

can accept men during White Flag and Salvation Army

and Wayside Christian Mission accepts families. The

shelter rules are lax during White Flag which allows

shelters to use overflow areas and accept people that may

not typically be allowed in the shelter due to lack of ID or

behavior issues.

When Operation White Flag is in effect the shelters that

participate fly a white flag outside to let homeless know

they can seek shelter inside. Wayside Christian Mission

has a volunteer Samaritan Patrol that searches for

homeless people who have not yet found shelter during

Operation White Flag. For those who do not wish to go to

the shelter, the Samaritan Patrol will leave food and

blankets. Individuals can also contact the Coalition for the

Homeless Bed-One Stop number at 637-2337 to find out

when Operation White Flag is in effect.



Our new blog!

The Student Equity & Community Engagement office has a new blog. You can

access by following this link: http://jcpsstudentequity.blogspot.com/. It can be a

good resource for JCPS employees, school homeless liaisons, parents and youth.

Under the JCPS employee tab you can find the homeless liaison in each school,

print out Residency Forms in all available languages and check out some helpful


For our school homeless liaisons we have a tab that includes quick links for

important features such as the Transportation & Resource App, Dispute Form, Gas

Card Application, McKinney Vento Posters and useful Resources. The

transportation app allows the school homeless liaisons to submit transportation

requests through our office. The dispute form link gives access to our dispute

resolution form for disputes on enrollment issues or other issues that may arise

with our McKinney-Vento eligible families. The McKinney-Vento posters are

available for print out in English and Spanish.

The youth tab section has information about our scholarships, youth shelters and

housing, YMCA Safe Place, housing programs for 18-24 year old youth, Family

Scholarhouse, Job Corps, and drop in centers. There is also a link to NAEHCY


Our blog also tells you a little more about our office and what we do as well as our

upcoming events. And you can check out the latest addition of Envision Equity.



Tim Calloway

Tim is custodian that serves the Student Equity and

Community Engagement office. He is so helpful and is

always goes above and beyond to make sure our office is

taken care of. He has helped us find space to put all of

the physical resources we offer as well as moving those

items around for us. He’s even stocked shelves in our

food pantry. He really cares about children and always

wants to do anything he can to help our homeless


Amanda Nelson

Amanda is a practicum student here at the Student

Equity and Community Engagement office. She is a

student at U of L Kent School for Social Work. She has

been working on ensuring our homeless students are

identified by going through the thousands of residency

forms JCPS families have to complete each year. She is

also very helpful with delivering items to families. She

has met up with families at shelters to deliver items for


Tonya Clinkscales

Tonya is a manager of operations in the Transportation

Department and she is in charge of setting up

transportation for McKinney-Vento eligible students as

well as students in foster care. She breaks down one of

the biggest barriers for families who choose to stay at

their school of origin. She also advocates for our

families who need transportation to school, and when it

seems almost impossible, she gets creative to ensure

students make it to and from school safely. She even has

a van for students who temporarily move to Indiana.

Amanda Averrette-Bush

Amanda is a specialist in the Student Assignment Office.

She ensures our students who are McKinney-Vento

eligible are able to enroll their school of origin. At the

beginning of the school year this took a lot of effort to

put in overrides for those students. __ overrides were put

on by Amanda this school year. She also helps us

problem solve when enrollment issues occur; such as a

family not staying at an actual address. Amanda helps

identify homeless students as well by notifying our office

when she is working with a family who is.

Melania Hernandez

Melinia is also a practicum student for the Student

Equity and Community Engagement office. She is also a

student at U of L Kent School for Social Work. She has

helped us breakdown the language barrier we

experience with some of our families. As the only other

Spanish speaker in the office besides Giselle, she has

helped us translate for many families. This allows us to

make sure we know what the needs of the family are so

they can be met. She has even translated a form our

office uses to ensure Spanish speaking parents can

complete and understand the form.

Police Officer in Louisville

An anonymous police officer here in the city of

Louisville paid for a hotel for one of our homeless

families here in JCPS this month. Even though we did

not get his name, we wanted to say thank you for

advocating for this family and providing them with a

roof over their heads. This meant a lot to the family that

had nowhere to go.

Images obtained from Google Images.


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