Last updated: June 01. 2013 12:51PM - 215 Views
Anthony Gonzalez
Staff Report

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An Elkin City School District director is spreading the word about North Carolina’s continuing Homeless Services Initiative that’s in place to locate children of homeless families.

“The purpose of the initiative is to enhance public understanding of the rights of education for homeless children and to identify and locate children of homeless families,” said Angela Land, homeless liaison for Elkin City Schools.

Congress reauthorized in January of 2002 the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Subtitle VII-B, originally passed in 1987 to help people experiencing homelessness. The law includes the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program that entitles children who are homeless to a free, appropriate public education and requires schools to remove barriers to their enrollment, attendance, and success in school. This Act protects all students who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate residence, such as students living in the following situations:

Doubled-up housing with other families or friends due to hardship;

Runaway/homeless youth shelters (even if parents invite the youth home);

Hotels or motels;

Shelters, including domestic violence shelters;

Transitional housing shelters;

Cars, abandoned buildings parks, the streets or other public spaces;

Campgrounds or inadequate trailer home;

Awaiting foster care placement;

Abandoned in a hospital.

According to Land, a homeless education liaison/coordinator is provided to assist families and school personnel in ensuring that students who are homeless can enroll and succeed in school.

The law requires schools to immediately enroll students experiencing homelessness, even if they do not have proof of residency, school and immunization records, birth certificates or other documents, and even if they are not accompanied by an adult.

A student in a homeless situation has the right to stay in his/her school of origin even if they move out of the district.

The local educational agency must arrange transportation for students experiencing homelessness even if the student has temporary housing arrangement is out of the district.

Students experiencing homelessness are eligible, based on individual need, for services provided to other students such as preschool, free or reduced school meals, services for English language learners, special education, vocational/technical education, gifted and talented services, and before- and after-school care.

Land stated that Elkin City Schools are not able to provide specifics pertaining to the amount of students falling into the category of being homeless in Elkin due to the complexity in confidentiality that must be administered to protect children.

If you know of any child that may fall within the criteria of being eligible for McKinney-Vento intervention, The Tribune urges you to contact Angel Land at 835-3135.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez by calling 835-1513 or email at agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.

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