Every year thousands of families struggle with homelessness. “According to National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, (http://naehcy.org) 1,360,747 homeless students were reported enrolled by U.S. public schools in the 2013-2014 school year. In Cleveland, there were 4,048 homeless students in 2014-2015. This is the highest number in the districts history despite a 25% decline in enrollment in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District since 2000. Statistics show that the percentage of homeless children in Ohio who graduate is less than 25% according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. Education of today’s children plays an important roll in preventing homelessness.
The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act* is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students. The purpose of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Program is to ensure that all children and youth have equal access to the same free and appropriate public education, including preschool education as non-homeless children and youth.
State and local educational agencies are required to develop, review and revise policies to remove barriers to the enrollment, attendance and success in school that homeless children and youth may experience. Local educational agencies must also provide homeless children and youth with the opportunity to meet the same challenging state content and state student performance standards to which all students are held. The goal is to get students back into school quickly after their family becomes homeless. They also strive to provide tutors to keep students at their grade level.
Every LEA (Local Educational Agencies, otherwise known as school districts) must designate an appropriate staff person as a local homeless education liaison. Each school district in Ohio has a liaison which makes sure the McKinney-Vento Act is implemented for the district’s homeless children. Below is a list of the liaisons for each of Cuyahoga County’s Public School Districts 2015-2016. Each liaison can help with clothing, uniforms, student fees, school supplies, birth certificates, immunizations, medical and dental services, etc. One student that a NEOCH staff member works with is very excited to know that help is available for her present homeless situation. Her goal is to graduate from high school and get a secondary education but she did not know that there was so much help available through her school district. Please contact the liaison from the list below to find help. You can also contact NEOCH offices at (216) 432-0540 for help if your child is in a school that is not listed below.
*Here is a link to the McKinney-Vento act at a glance which explains the definitions of homelessness and how each liaison serves their homeless children: http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/reauthorization.pdf.
by Denise Toth
Opinions reflected are those of the author