Policies that Support Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Policies that Support Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Federal and State law as well as SFUSD Board of Education Policies and Resolutions ensure that students and families who are experiencing homelessness receive access to services and supports that reduce barriers to education. 

Federal Law: The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Summary and Resources from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)

State Laws

AB 27 and SB 400

Board of Education Policies and Resolution Statements

San Francisco Unified School District and County Office of Education Board Resolution No. 175-23A1

In Support of Staff Training, Coordination and Delivery of Programs and Services to Meet the Needs of Homeless Children, Youth, and Families in San Francisco Unified School District January 23, 2018

 

WHEREAS: The purpose of this resolution is to build on the collective sense of urgency around student and family homelessness and to empower SFUSD staff to proactively support homeless students and their families in connecting to services and housing.  SFUSD is rich in its human resources and services and we can and must do better for our most vulnerable students; and

WHEREAS: At the end of the 2015-16 school year, SFUSD reported approximately 2144 homeless students in grades K-12 with a total of 1093 Hispanic student; 390 Asian students; 370 Black/African American students 74 White students; 61 Multiple Race students; 47 Native Hawaii/Other Pacific Islander; and 10 American Indian/Alaskan Native students; and

WHEREAS: SFUSD data is consistent with national trends - from 2006-2007 through 2013-2014 school years with approximately 1000 students identified in 2007 and increasing each year until 2014 to approximately 2400 students. In the 2015-2016 school year, SFUSD identified nearly 1 in 25 students as homeless including 937 in Elementary/K-8, 491 in Middle School, 787 in High School, and 168 in Charter Schools; and

WHEREAS: Of these 2144 students reported 435 were identified as receiving special education services and supports; and, 1345 students as English Language learners; and

WHEREAS: Of these students experiencing homelessness in 2016 11% were living in a hotel or motel, 61% were living temporarily doubled-up, 28% were living in temporary shelters and 1% were living unsheltered.  All of these living conditions are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act definition of homelessness; and  

WHEREAS: In November of 2015 SFUSD, the City and County of San Francisco, and Hamilton Families launched a partnership as part of the city’s initiative to end family homelessness by 2020 and to be able to reach and identify homeless families more quickly and effectively. This partnership includes sharing of data between SFUSD, the City’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and Hamilton Families, staff training and site support/outreach visits, networking, referrals and connections to additional agency and advocacy resources; and

WHEREAS: Under the amended McKinney-Vento Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act (2015), State Educational Agencies (SEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as other children and youth. Homeless children and youth must have access to the educational, enrichment and related services that they need to enable them to meet the same challenging State academic standards to which all students are held. In addition, homeless students may not be separated from the mainstream school environment, and districts must ensure school stability regardless of their housing circumstances; and

WHEREAS: Section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youth” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes:

• Children and youth who are: sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”); living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; living in emergency or transitional shelters; or abandoned in hospitals;

• Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

• Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

• Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

WHEREAS: According to the 2014 Federally Required State Data Collection for the McKinney-Vento Education Assistance Improvements Act and EHCY program this particularly vulnerable population of children has been increasing; from the 2006-2007 school year to the 2013-2014 school year with the total number of homeless children and youth approximately doubled from 679,724 to 1,301,239 students. This figure was not representative of children or youth not enrolled in K-12 public schools which likely includes children under the age of 5 years, unaccompanied homeless youth and transitional age youth; and

WHEREAS: The number of unaccompanied homeless youth (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) identified in national school data has also doubled to nearly 100,000 with youth of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) disproportionately represented; and

WHEREAS: The 2016 report “Hidden in Plain Sight – Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools” states that over 40 percent of formerly homeless students surveyed said they dropped out while they were homeless in middle or high school; and

WHEREAS: The 2014 “America’s Youngest Outcast” report found that California is ranked 48 among all states for its response to child homelessness. This ranking is determined by the extent of child homelessness in the state, the extent of risk factors for child homelessness, child well-being, and state level resources to prevent and address child homelessness; and

WHEREAS: Research and data, including individual surveys of homeless youth, indicate that homelessness can have significant and lasting negative impacts on child’s physical, emotional social and academic development – each may suffer from: poor health, sleep deprivation, insufficient/regular nutrition, trauma, anxiety, shame, guilt, sadness, withdrawal and low self-esteem resulting in chronic absenteeism and decline in academic performance; and

WHEREAS: Homeless students in SFUSD report significant challenges with completing work, assignments and research outside of school due to inadequate settings and insufficient access to resources. Research shows that shelters and SROs do not have dedicated space and lack appropriate resources, supplies and equipment to support learning; and

WHEREAS: SFUSDs Families & Youth in Transition Program currently consists of basic assistance and advocacy for youth and families around school enrollment and transportation, communication with central office and school site/staff, handling educational disputes, academic tutoring, providing school uniforms, backpacks and school supplies and making referrals to outside agencies, shelters and housing programs; and

WHEREAS:  Life Learning Academy, a public charter high school on Treasure Island, that supports the social and emotional health of some of the Bay Area’s most disadvantaged students including many homeless students, has recently launched LLABUILD, an initiative to add safe, stable housing to their academic and workforce development program.  LLABUILD will provide a structured, supportive dorm style environment for unstably housed youth who attend Life Learning Academy; and

WHEREAS: Recognizing the significant needs of students experiencing homelessness, the City, SFUSD, a nonprofit provider, and more than a dozen private donors have collaborated to create a $30 million targeted program for homeless families with children in San Francisco’s schools. This partnership will provide Rapid Rehousing support for at least 800 homeless families over three years, dramatically impacting homelessness among families and helping promote educational stability for children; and

WHEREAS: In October 2017, the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) released its 5-year Strategic Framework outlining its goals and strategies for addressing homelessness in San Francisco. HSH’s goals include ensuring that no families with children are unsheltered in San Francisco by December 2018 and to end family homelessness in San Francisco by December 2021. To achieve these goals, HSH will be working closely with nonprofit organizations and the SFUSD to ensure that homeless students and their families are rapidly assessed and connected with housing services when a housing crisis occurs.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:  SFUSD and the Board of Education recognize our obligation to implement the new McKinney-Vento Act requirements, including the ESSA amended sections and desire to provide homeless students with a safe, positive learning environment that is free from discrimination and harassment and that promotes students’ self-esteem and academic achievement as outlined in Board Policy 6173;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: that the Board of Education hereby directs the Superintendent to develop a Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness (SAFEH) Action Plan, which shall incorporate the provisions described in this Resolution and include the following priorities:

  1. A report of the demographics of SFUSD Students and their families experiencing homelessness;
  2. A report of the policy changes, strategies, partnerships, and actions, including the status of the learning centers, initiated in support of homeless students and their families, as outlined in this resolution; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED:  At least annually, a SFUSD designee shall report to the Board on Students and Families Experienced Homelessness Action Plan.  This report should include outcomes for homeless students, including students living in SROs, which may include, but are not limited to, school attendance, student achievement test results, promotion and retention rates by grade level, graduation rates, suspension/expulsion rates and other outcomes related ESSA/McKinney-Vento Act requirements and any goals or specific actions identified in the LCAP. Based on the evaluation data, the district shall revise its strategies as needed to better support the education of homeless students and shall periodically update the SAFEH Action Plan as necessary to remain consistent with state and federal law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:  SFUSD shall implement ways to directly include homeless students in determining the allocation of resources - including goals and specific actions to improve student achievement and positive outcomes for them- in budgeting decisions including but not limited to the district’s local control and accountability plan (LCAP) and the weighted student formula and multi-tiered systems of supports; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: SFUSD will develop processes to review and revise policies that might disproportionately impact homeless students, including those who are also children and youth of color; those who identify as LGBTQ; English learners; and students with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: SFUSD will address enrollment barriers experienced by pre-kindergarten through 12th grade homeless students, especially those related to missed application or enrollment deadlines, records required – including immunization or other health records, proof of residency or other documentation, and academic records-including credit transfers should be temporarily removed to expedite placement; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: SFUSD shall ensure that placement decisions for homeless students are based on the student’s best interest, inclusive of parent input and desire, and as defined in law and United States Department of Education’s regulations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: SFUSD will develop services for preschool-aged homeless children, which data show compose a major share of the overall homeless population including LEA administered preschool programs such as Head Start, Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities), and other preschool programs administered by the LEA; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: SFUSD shall develop strategies to build a homeless student’s feeling of connectedness and belonging with his/her school, including, but not limited to, strategies that promote positive discipline and conflict resolution, the development of resiliency and interpersonal skills, and the involvement of parents and guardians and/or other caretakers in all school programs and activities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:  SFUSD will develop strategies to support college/career access for homeless students and their unique circumstances with explicit instruction and focus on the role school staff must play to insure successful high school graduation and the transition to postsecondary education opportunities, in addition to strengthened emphasis on supports for, unaccompanied homeless youth, through the verification of independent student status for the purposes of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and improved coordination with other federally funded state/local homeless assistance programs for which these youth may be eligible; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: SFUSD will collaborate with relevant city-funded family and youth shelters and SROs to determine the equipment, furnishings and supplies needed, and identify the resources to support the development/design of Learning Centers at each of San Francisco’s family shelters and relevant unaccompanied youth shelters; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:  SFUSD will identify/assign a McKinney-Vento Liaison, and in addition school site liasons at targeted schools, who will support all of the aforementioned in addition to:

  • Homeless students have access to all enrichment and extended day programs or activities including overnight/outdoor/out of state field trips; eligibility based athletic teams and sports programs; regular/specialized after-school programs.
  • Parents or guardians of homeless children and youth are informed of educational and related opportunities available to their children including special education services, school nutrition programs, language assistance for English learners, career and technical education, early college, gifted and talented/magnet programs, summer and online learning.
  • Ensure that parents or guardians of homeless children and youth are able to access to support and services in a manner that is culturally and linguistically competent;
  • Parents and Guardians are also provided with meaningful and convenient (at Family Shelters when possible) opportunities to participate in the education of their children with regular communication from teachers/support staff in regards to their progress and educational needs;
  • Public notice of the educational rights of homeless students is disseminated in locations frequented by parents and guardians of such children and youth, and unaccompanied youth, including schools, shelters, public libraries, and soup kitchens, in a manner and form understandable to the parents and guardians and unaccompanied youth;
  • Parents and guardians and unaccompanied youth are fully informed of all transportation services, including transportation to and from the school of origin and are assisted in accessing transportation services;
  • School personnel receive specific instruction, guidance, information, professional development focused on homeless student/family indicators, needs and strategic support;
  • Site Liaisons/points of contact are identified at each school site where there are more than 15 homeless students; 
  • Work with district office of Research, Planning and Accountability (RPA) and Information Technology (IT) to support ongoing homeless student and family data management, systems development and access needs and process.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED:  The SFUSD will pursue opportunities to collaborate with the Life Learning Academy and the LLABUILD initiative, including potentially referring students experienced homelessness to Life Learning Academy’s residential initiative; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: That the SFUSD will facilitate collaboration and coordination with the San Francisco’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing as well as other related service providers, including public and private that focus on child welfare and social services; law enforcement; juvenile and family courts; mental health services; domestic violence; child care providers; runaway and homeless youth centers; programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; and providers of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing, including public housing agencies, shelter operators, and operators of transitional housing facilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: SFUSD shall improve data collection about students experiencing homelessness by entering into a data sharing agreement with the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED:  SFUSD will research and pursue opportunities for SFUSD owned land to be made available to build affordable housing for SFUSD students and families experiencing homelessness, including potential partnerships and/or funding sources from city and county, state, federal, philanthropic and nonprofit sources.   The Superintendent will report back to the Board of Education on opportunities in this area within six months; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:  That the SFUSD will collaborate with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to develop an urgent response system when a student is identified as living unsheltered or when a student is about to lose their housing.  This urgent response system would quickly connect the student and their family with problem-solving and shelter services administered by HSH; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED:  That the SFUSD will collaborate with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to provide ongoing training to SFUSD staff on the City’s family coordinated entry process and ONE System to ensure that SFUSD staff knows the best ways to connect homeless students and families with City services.

Please Note:

  • Original Resolution referred by order of the Chair on 5/23/17 to the Budget and Business Services and Curriculum and Program Committees.
  • Original Resolution was taken up by the Curriculum and Program Committee on 6/19/17.  Forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation by general consent of the Committee.
  • Original Resolution was taken up by the Budget and Business Services Committee on 9/20/17.  Forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation by general consent of the Committee. 
  • Subsequent to consideration and recommendation by the Budget and Business Services Committee and the Curriculum and Program Committee, amendments to this Resolution have been proposed by Commissioner Haney. Commissioner Haney’s proposed substitutions to the version reviewed and recommended by the Committees are shown in underline.
  • Adopted January 23, 2018

San Francisco Unified School District and County Office of Education Board Policy 6173: Education for Homeless Children November 15, 2016

This Board Policy applies to the San Francisco Unified School District and the County Office of Education.

The Governing Board desires to ensure that homeless students have access to the same free and appropriate public education provided to other students within the district. The district shall provide homeless students with access to education and other services necessary for them to meet the same challenging academic standards as other students.

(cf. 6011 - Academic Standards)

The Superintendent or designee shall identify and remove any barriers to the identification and enrollment of homeless students and to the retention of homeless students due to absences or outstanding fees or fines.  (42 USC 11432)

(cf. 3250 - Transportation Fees)

(cf. 3260 - Fees and Charges)

(cf. 5113.1 - Chronic Absence and Truancy)

When there are at least 15 homeless students in the district or a district school, the district's local control and accountability plan (LCAP) shall include goals and specific actions to improve student achievement and other outcomes of homeless students.  (Education Code 52052, 52060)

(cf. 0460 - Local Control and Accountability Plan)

The Superintendent or designee shall designate an appropriate staff person to serve as a liaison for homeless children and youths. The district liaison shall fulfill the duties specified in 42 USC 11432 to assist in identifying and supporting homeless students to succeed in school.

Information about a homeless student's living situation shall be considered part of a student's educational record, subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and shall not be deemed to be directory information as defined in 20 USC 1232g.  (42 USC 11432)

(cf. 5125 - Student Records)

(cf. 5125.1 - Release of Directory Information)

The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that placement decisions for homeless students are based on the student's best interest as defined in law and administrative regulation.

Each homeless student shall be provided services that are comparable to services offered to other students in the school, including, but not limited to, transportation, educational programs for which the student meets the eligibility criteria (such as federal Title I services or similar state or local programs, programs for students with disabilities, and educational programs for English learners), career and technical education programs, programs for gifted and talented students, and school nutrition programs.  (42 USC 11432)

(cf. 3550 - Food Service/Child Nutrition Program)

(cf. 3553 - Free and Reduced Price Meals)

(cf. 5148.2 - Before/After School Programs)

(cf. 5148.3 - Preschool/Early Childhood Education)

(cf. 6159 - Individualized Education Program)

(cf. 6164.2 - Guidance/Counseling Services)

(cf. 6171 - Title I Programs)

(cf. 6172 - Gifted and Talented Student Program)

(cf. 6174 - Education for English Language Learners)

(cf. 6177 - Summer Learning Programs)

(cf. 6178 - Career and Technical Education)

(cf. 6179 - Supplemental Instruction)

Homeless students shall not be segregated into a separate school or program based on their status as homeless and shall not be stigmatized in any way.  However, the Superintendent or designee may separate homeless students on school grounds as necessary for short periods of time for health and safety emergencies or to provide temporary, special, and supplementary services to meet the unique needs of homeless students.  (42 USC 11432, 11433)

(cf. 0410 - Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities)

(cf. 3553 - Free and Reduced Price Meals)

The Superintendent or designee shall coordinate with other agencies and entities to ensure that homeless children and youth are promptly identified, ensure that homeless students have access to and are in reasonable proximity to available education and related support services, and raise the awareness of school personnel and service providers of the effects of short-term stays in a shelter and other challenges associated with homelessness. Toward these ends, the Superintendent or designee shall collaborate with local social services agencies, other agencies or entities providing services to homeless children and youth, and, if applicable, transitional housing facilities.  To the extent required by law, the Superintendent or designee shall coordinate transportation, transfer of school records, and other interdistrict activities with other local educational agencies. As necessary, the Superintendent or designee shall coordinate, within the district and with other involved local educational agencies, services for homeless students and services for students with disabilities.  (42 USC 11432)

(cf. 1020 - Youth Services)

District liaisons and other appropriate staff shall participate in professional development and other technical assistance activities to assist them in identifying and meeting the needs of homeless students and to provide training on the definitions of terms related to homelessness.  (42 USC 11432)

The Superintendent or designee shall report to the Board on outcomes for homeless students, which may include, but are not limited to, school attendance, student achievement test results, promotion and retention rates by grade level, graduation rates, suspension/expulsion rates, and other outcomes related to any goals and specific actions identified in the LCAP. Based on the evaluation data, the district shall revise its strategies as needed to better support the education of homeless students.

(cf. 0500 - Accountability)

(cf. 6162.51 - State Academic Achievement Tests)

(cf. 6190 - Evaluation of the Instructional Program)

Legal Reference:

EDUCATION CODE

2558.2  Use of revenue limits to determine average daily attendance of homeless children

39807.5 Payment of transportation costs by parents

48850  Educational rights of homeless and foster youth

48852.5  Notice of educational rights of homeless students

48852.7 Enrollment of homeless students

48915.5  Recommended expulsion, homeless student with disabilities

48918.1  Notice of recommended expulsion

51225.1-51225.3  Graduation requirements

52060-52077  Local control and accountability plan

CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 5

4600-4687  Uniform complaint procedures

UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 20

1087vv  Free Application for Federal Student Aid; definitions

1232g Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

6311  Title I state plan; state and local educational agency report cards

UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 42

11431-11435 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

12705 Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act; state and local strategies

Management Resources:

CALIFORNIA CHILD WELFARE COUNCIL

Partial Credit Model Policy and Practice Recommendations

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Homeless Education Dispute Resolution Process, January 30, 2007

NATIONAL CENTER FOR HOMELESS EDUCATION PUBLICATIONS

Homeless Liaison Toolkit, 2013

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION GUIDANCE

Dear Colleague Letter, July 27, 2016

Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program, Non-Regulatory Guidance, July 2016

WEB SITES

California Child Welfare Council:  http://www.chhs.ca.gov/Pages/CAChildWelfareCouncil.aspx

California Department of Education, Homeless Children and Youth Education: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/hs/cy

National Center for Homeless Education at SERVE:  http://www.serve.org/nche

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:  http://www.nlchp.org

U.S. Department of Education: http://www.ed.gov/programs/homeless/index.html

Please note that compare references, or “cf”, refer to CSBA model policies and do not necessarily indicate that the San Francisco Unified School District has adopted the referenced policy.

This page was last updated on March 21, 2022