Working with a homeless family can raise a lot of questions in a teacher's mind. Here are your quick answers, with links to more in-depth information.
How many homeless students are there in America?
The homeless population is difficult to accurately assess, and it is constantly shifting, but estimates range from 1 to 1.5 million.
How do you define a student from a homeless family?
Federal law states that a homeless student is “Any individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” This can mean doubling up with other families, living in inadequate trailers or building, or living in shelters. Click for more information
What rights do homeless students have under the law?
Children from a homeless family have the right to services and accommodations that allow them to keep up with their peers academically. They have the right to remain in their school of origin, even if they move out of the attendance area. Click for more information
What obligations do schools have under the law?
Schools and school districts must coordinate resources (such as school meals, medical care, etc.) for the benefit of the child. They must also provide transportation so the student may continue attending their school of choice. Schools must also enroll homeless students, even if they lack fully adequate records and identification. Click for more information
What social pressures do homeless students face?
This differs from grade level to grade level; as kids get older, their social awareness increases and they can start to feel more embarrassment based on clothing and possessions, or an inability to have friends over to their house. These case studies provide more insights
How do I identify a homeless elementary, middle or high school student?
There are many telltale signs, including absenteeism, hygiene or health issues, or a simple conversation with students or parents. This page provides a full discussion.
How do I get services for a homeless student I identify?
Contact your school counselor or principal as a first step, but be sure to follow up to ensure action has been taken. You may have to contact the district homeless liaison yourself. This page provides a full discussion.
How do you help homeless kids feel “normal” at school?
For a student to feel comfortable in the classroom – even if their homeless status causes schedule disruptions – a teacher needs to anticipate issues that may cause moments of discomfort. Transportation may cause late arrival and early departure, for example. How will this affect entry tasks or homework distribution? Learn more about including and accommodating homeless students
How can I spread the word to parents?
Many parents are not aware of their options in homeless situations. Reaching out with fliers at an open house, classroom newsletter articles and classroom website notices are great methods for raising awareness. Get downloads of fliers, copy-and-paste text, newsletter graphics and more
How can I spread the word to other teachers in my building?
You can refresh the understanding of your fellow teachers on the facts behind the tragedy of homeless students, as well as remind them how to recognize them and how to get help. A few minutes of a staff meeting are all you need, and I've provided a ready-to-use lesson plan – complete with PowerPoint and handouts – for your use. Get your full staff training package here
What are Your Questions?
Do you have any questions? I'd be happy to research them! Please let me know by using my contact form.