Homelessness In Schools: A Case Study

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Federal law defines children and youth who are homeless as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act 2009; as cited in Rahman, Turner, Elbedour, 2015). Homeless students can be classified as either sheltered or unsheltered according to HUD Point in Time. These students may be referred to as mobility students. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) counts those who are involuntarily staying with friends, family, strangers, in motels and hotels as homeless. Many United States school systems are faced with the truth about the increase in students who are classified as homeless in schools. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2010),…show more content…
Since homelessness is often viewed as an invisible social issue, the victims of the situation are usually unaware of the rights they possess according to certain federal protections. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (MVHAA), first started in 1987, is the main federal law that provides funding and guidance services to families that are classified as homeless. The mission of MVHAA is to protect mobility students from missing school days and minimizing transience (Canfield & Teasley, 2015). This law helps to remove barriers to homeless families and youth through certain provisions. One of the provisions states that homeless youth can remain in their established school even if they relocate outside of the school’s zone. This is in place to help keep the children in the same environment and on track with their academics. However, if students decide to attend another school, MVHAA requires the school to waive all required documentation for the child and enroll them immediately. Often times school social workers are appointed as liaisons between the school, the state’s education department, and the affected families. They educate mobility families on their rights as homeless families. MVHAA provides funding to serve…show more content…
The majority of teachers are not aware immediately when a child is homeless, but through positive communication and relationships, students will open up to teachers about their home conditions. Since homeless children experience isolation, an educator must be sure to establish positive relationships with these students from day one. The child must have feelings of trust and respect for his or her teacher. These students may already feel shameful and embarrassed about their situations, so the positive student-teacher relationships are pertinent to the child learning to trust and open up to teachers. Homeless children are bound to be more internalizing with depression and externalizing with aggression and physical harm than the average student because of the lack of stability. Therefore, positive student-teacher relationships among homeless students foster an emotional and secure feeling on the inside of the students. They are in a space where they feel safe and are able to interact with others about their emotions. This in itself assists with homeless children being able to succeed
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