The Education Project for Homeless Youth, a project of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, works to ensure students in homelessness and temporary living situations enroll, regularly attend and succeed in school.
During the 2011-2012 school year, we served more than 1300 students in Washtenaw County, ages 0-21, from the 10 school districts and nine public school academies in the county. Every single school district in the county is working with students in temporary living situations.
We work closely with all of the shelters in Washtenaw County, but also serve families living in motels or bouncing from family member to family member. We also work with students in temporary foster care placements.
We are funded primarily through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in January of 2002. The Act guarantees that students who are homeless have equal access to the same free and appropriate public education provided to others. We also rely on private donations and grants to directly meet student needs.
To contact us, call (734) 994-8100, x1518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This video describes federal obligations for all school staff under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. It also describes services available to eligible families through the Education Project and suggestions for how school staff can best support these students.
The Education Project serves children and youth who lack a fixed, adequate, regular night-time residence. We primarily serve school-age youth with a special focus on teens living without a parent or guardian, but services are also available to children ages 0-5 and youth ages 18 and older who do not yet have a high school diploma or GED.
Once a student is determined eligible, that student receives services (including free lunch) for the entire school year, even if they become permanently housed.
The children and youth served live in the following situations:
- Emergency shelter or transitional housing
- Public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for humans, including cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, and bus or train stations.
- Abandoned in hospital
- Temporary foster care placement (generally any foster care placement of less than 6 months).
- Shared housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship or another, similar reason.
Examples of Students Who Qualify
( When in doubt, please call The Education Project.)
- A 3rd grader who fled a violent situation with his mother and is now living in SafeHouse Center's emergency shelter.
- A 19-year-old who has not graduated and just moved into Ozone House's Miller House, a transitional living program.
- A 16-year-old staying in Ozone House's two-week shelter.
- A 5th grader whose family can no long afford their rent and are facing eviction, so the whole family moves in with grandma.
- A teen living in his car.
- A 4-year-old attending Head Start whose family loses its housing and moves into a motel.
- A 3-year-old receiving speech therapy services once a week in Ann Arbor. Their family was evicted and had to move in with family members in Saline.
- A 5th grader who moved in with his aunt while his father is at the Delonis Center shelter.
- A 6th grader's mother is incarcerated, so she goes to live with an aunt in another school district. The aunt is thinking about getting guardianship but doesn't have the money for the fee.
- A 17-year-old who has moved in with her boyfriend.
- A 2nd grader living in a single family home with his mother, father and three siblings. The home has no water or electricity and the student hears his mom saying how worried she is about an inspector coming over.
- A 6th grader who just got placed by Child Protective Services to live with her grandma last week.
- A 3rd grader who has been in a foster care placement for four months.
Examples of Students Who Do Not Qualify
- A 1st grader living in an apartment with her mother, who has a Sec. 8 voucher.
- A 4th grader who lived in a cramped motel until mid-August but his mother is now renting an apartment in a different school district (must be eligible the first day of school).
- A 2nd grader who has lived with the same foster parents for two years.
- A 6th grader whose family is being evicted from their home in a week.
- A 1st grader whose young mother has never moved out of her parent's home and plans to continue to stay there to save money.
Visit www.serve.org/nche for more information.
Most students access our services through their school, a shelter or community agency, where they fill out our Referral Paperwork (see Downloads). If there is an emergency (for instance, an eligible student has been denied immediate enrollment or a family has no transportation to get to a school), families can call our offices directly at (734) 994-8100, x1518.
Our paperwork is meant to enhance services and our understanding of a student's needs. It cannot be used as a barrier to school enrollment or other rights under McKinney-Vento.
- Assist with McKinney-Vento eligibility questions, immediate school enrollment or difficulties in securing transportation to the school of origin.
- Promote needs and rights of students experiencing homelessness within community.
- Coordinate school transportation and provide funding for stop-gap transportation.
- Offer creative solutions to transportation challenges such as rides to and from after-school tutoring and parent-teacher conferences.
- Distribute school supplies, including backpacks, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, calculators and toiletries.
- Provide books through donated materials.
- Provide socks, underwear, hats, gloves, winter coats (as supplies last).
- Provide clothing through referrals through area thrift shops and Warm the Children.
Education-Related Financial Assistance
- Assist students with school-related financial needs that cannot be met in other ways, such as fees for credit recovery, graduation, field trips and summer school courses.
- Work with schools to connect students to tutoring.
- Partner with SOS Community Services and 826michigan to offer free tutoring.
- Help unaccompanied youth fill out their Federal Financial Aid form and college applications.
- Connect families with children ages 0-5 with a First Steps Washtenaw parent educator and other early childhood resources, including Head Start and Early On.
- Partner with the Child Care Network and Ann Arbor Rec & Ed to connect families with quality, licensed childcare.
- Connect families to community resources.
- Help families access emergency assistance.
- Provide listings of housing options.
- Work to reconnect students who have dropped out of school with an educational option that best meets their needs.
- EPHY makes referrals to meet an array of needs, including medical, counseling, emergency food, household goods and personal items.
If you live temporarily in a shelter, motel, vehicle, campground, on the street, in abandoned buildings, a temporary foster care placement or doubled up with relatives or friends, you are considered eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act. These students have the right to:
- Continue in their "school of origin" (the school they last attended when permanently housed or the school they last attended), if that is your choice and it is feasible, or attend the neighborhood school where you are currently living.
- Receive transportation to the school of origin if requested.
- Immediately enroll and attend classes without providing a permanent address, past school or immunization records, proof of guardianship, etc. You still must fill out enrollment packets.
- Receive free lunch.
- Receive equal access to education and support services and if eligible, participate in before– and after-school activities.
- Receive services through the Education Project (see Services section).
By federal law, school staff must identify, immediately enroll and serve students in homeless or temporary living situations.
- Please review your district's / school's Procedure Template (to see a blank version, see Download section).
- Get to know your liaison (see Download section for list).
- Attend a county-wide training to learn more. Contact email@example.com to find out when the next training is scheduled.
Other Tips for School Staff
- Appoint a McKinney-Vento Ally in your school (see Download for description).
- Make sure you are using the Residency Questionnaire in your enrollment packet and sending it home at least once mid-year.
- Avoid using the word "homeless" (use temporary or transitional instead).
- Have Education Project referrals handy (see Download section).
- Make sure you have a poster in your school: http://center.serve.org/nche/pr/er_poster.php#youth.
Question: Can a student who is homeless be enrolled without records?
Answer: Yes. In fact, the law requires IMMEDIATE enrollment. Schools CANNOT require proof of residency, immunization or student records for enrollment of students who are homeless.
Question: When a family moves to a homeless situation out of district must they change schools?
Answer: No. Individual determinations are made based on parents' wishes, length of commute and student's age. Students have the right to receive transportation to the school they last attended if it is determined this is where they should attend.
Question: Who can call in sick for unaccompanied youth?
Answer: A shelter, agency representative, or caseworker can report student absences to school. If the youth is staying with another family, the adult/parent there may complete a Caregiver Authorization Form and sign/call for the student. If the youth does not have someone in their life to call in for them, the school can let them call in, but get a liaison involved if the absences become excessive.
Question: Who can sign emergency cards or field trip permission forms for unaccompanied youth?
Answer: A shelter, agency representative, or caseworker can sign permission slips for an UY in school. If youth is staying with another family, the adult/parent there may complete a Caregiver Authorization Form and sign for the student. The liaison could also sign (this includes staff at the Education Project).
Please see www.serve.org/nche for more assistance.
Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and more than 1 million children are homeless each year in this country (The National Center for Family Homelessness).
Within a single year, 97% of homeless children move, many up to three times (National Center for Family Homelessness). With each change in schools, a student is set back academically by an average of four to six months (Rogers 1991).
75% of runaway and homeless youth have dropped out or will drop out of school (National Network for Runaway and Homeless Youth).
Across the country, one in five homeless school-aged children repeats a grade in school, twice the national rate for all children (Homes for the Homeless and The Institute for Children and Poverty).
Compared with housed children, children who are homeless experience more developmental delays, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems, and lower academic achievement (Shinn and Weitzmann 1996).
Children without a home are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children, and have higher rates of asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and speech problems (Better Homes Fund 1999).
- Backpacks for all ages (black, blue, red, purple and pink are favorites)
- Solar-powered scientific calculators
- 3-ring Binders
- Spiral notebooks, pocket folders
- Pens, colored pencils, markers, pencil sharpeners, highlighters
- Zippered pencil pouches and supply boxes
- Protractors, compasses, rulers
- Glue, glue sticks
- Post-It notes, index cards
- Zippered plastic bags, small tissue containers
- Travel-size toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, comb, lotion
- Books of fiction, board books
- Laptop computers with wireless card
(Note: Crayons and pencils are not needed.)
- New or like-new khaki or navy blue pants
- New packages of socks (ankle socks are a favorite)
- New packages of underwear (boys/teens prefer boxers)
- Hats, gloves, mittens, scarves
- New or gently used winter coats
- Snow pants
- Gift certificates to Meijer, Target, Once Upon A Child, Children's Orchard, etc.
- Ann Arbor Transportation Authority student bus passes or tokens
- We always need cash donations for our Student Need Fund, which directly supports students (none is used for administrative expenses).
- In November, we organize a holiday gift drive. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- For any other type of donation, please call first: (734) 994-8100, x 1518.
Donations can be mailed or dropped off at EPHY's office at
Washtenaw Intermediate School District:
1819 S. Wagner Road
P.O. Box 1406
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1406.
Note: EPHY is tax-exempt.
State of Michigan Web Site on Education for Homeless Children and Youth
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
National Center for Homeless Education
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County
Domestic Violence Project/SAFE House Center
Salvation Army Family Staples Center
SOS Community Services
Father Patrick Jackson House
Shelter Association of Washtenaw County
Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools
Hope Medical Clinic
Packard Community Clinic
Corner Health Center
Washtenaw Children's Dental Clinic
Other Helpful Resources for Homeless Families and Youth
Affordable Housing List
Washtenaw County Public Health Department
Washtenaw County Department of Human Services
Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds
Child Care Network