Every Student Succeeds Act has New Provisions for Homeless Youth
As local public schools across New Jersey opened for classes, now is a good time for parents, students and school districts to review the new guidance available for homeless youth as part of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act.
On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act and includes new provisions for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released the Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance to help states, local educational agencies understand the new requirements under the McKinney-Vento Act, and provide recommendations on how they can implement the new changes to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness have equal access to educational opportunity.
Some of the changes to better serve children and youth experiencing homelessness established in the ESSA are as follows:
- Clarify that local liaisons need to ensure that children experiencing homelessness have access to and receive early educational programs.
- Require collaboration and coordination among agencies and providers working with children and youth (i.e. homeless service providers, child welfare, and juvenile justice).
- Remove barriers to enrollment for school applications, immunizations, health records, and residency policies.
- Retract “awaiting foster care placement” from the definition of “homeless children and Youth.”
These new provisions take effect on October 1, 2016.
The New Jersey Department of Education website’s “Homeless Education” page on its website that includes announcements, resources for parents & students, and resources for school districts.
If you have become homeless, notify your child’s school principal immediately.
If you are homeless in another district, enroll your child immediately and inform the school that you’re homeless.
Ask to see the homeless liaison.
By law, every New Jersey school district must have a local homeless liaison, who is responsible for assisting homeless students and their parents or guardians with such activities as:
- Enrolling in school and accessing school services;
- Obtaining immunizations or medical records;
- Informing parents, school personnel, and others of the rights of homeless children and youth;
- Working with school staff to make sure that homeless children and youth are immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of disputes that might arise over school enrollment or placement;
- Helping to coordinate transportation services for homeless children and youth; and
- Collaborating and coordinating with the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and community and school personnel responsible for providing education and related support services to homeless children and Youth.