Authorized under Federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Jonathan Alder Local School District provides services to ensure that identified children and youth experiencing homelessness have access to a free and appropriate public education by removing barriers due to homelessness. Jonathan Alder Local Schools can help by assisting with school selection and enrollment, school transportation, wellness checks, and by addressing other barriers that affect school enrollment, attendance and full participation.
The McKinney-Vento Act provides a definition of homeless children and youths to be used by state and local educational agencies (LEAs or school districts). It defines homeless children and youths to be those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Under the larger umbrella of lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, the law also provides several examples of situations that meet the definition. The examples include children and youths:
Sharing housing due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
Living in hotels, motels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
Abandoned in hospitals;
Having a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designated for, or normally used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar places; and
Living in one of the above circumstances and who are migratory according to the definition in Section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
When considering if a student meets the criteria in the definition provided by the law, it is important to remember that the list provided is only a guide, and more situations may exist that meet the criteria than are actually listed.
Rights and Services for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- Immediate school enrollment and full participation in all school activities for eligible children, even when records normally required for enrollment are not available,
- The rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness to remain in their school of origin (the school the student attended when permanently house or the school in which the student was last enrolled, when feasible and in the child's or youth's best interest to do so.
- Transportation to and from the school of origin.
- Access to programs and services, including special education services, preschool services, free school meals, Title I services, services for English language learners, vocational/technical education, gifted and talented services, and before and after-school care.
- Rights and protections specifically for unaccompanied youth (youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian who is experiencing homelessness, including allowing them to be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship.
- The right to dispute an enrollment decision and for a child or youth to be admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending the resolution of the dispute.