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ID Strategies - PowerPoint Transcript

Transcript of the video recording of the Identification Strategies of Homeless Children and Youth PowerPoint Presentation, and provides in depth strategies for identifying students who may be experiencing homelessness.

Identification Strategies for Homeless Children and Youth PowerPoint Transcript

Identification Strategies for Homeless Children and Youth Video web page

Slide 1: Introduction

Hello, and welcome to the California Department of Education's presentation on identification strategies for educators working with students experiencing homelessness.

This presentation does not go into the law for homeless education, its implementation, or requirements and responsibilities of a district, but rather as the title says, the strategies for identification. Please make sure you have either received the training directly from your county office of education, or viewed the Homeless Education training modules on the department's website. (You may locate the link on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 2: Sharing the Message

Today’s presentation is geared at strategies that fall under the duties and responsibilities of the homeless education liaison, but they are strategies to be shared by the district as a whole and in turn with all staff at a school site and the community of students they serve.

So, let’s get started. If you noticed in my introduction I mention educators. I didn’t say liaisons, because every one of us who works with a child, a student, as an educator has a shared responsibility. We’re all part of their education. Students currently experiencing homelessness and those who have overcome homelessness consistently consider their school a place that provides stability, predictability, a place to play, a place for undivided attention from a caring adult, security, enjoyment, and a sense of belonging.

Always remember that the number one strategy for identifying students experiencing homelessness is sharing the message.

That means, sharing the definition, sharing the benefits and rights afforded to students under this eligibility.

Slide 3: Homeless Definition: Stereotype

Like all of our presentations, we have to start with the definition. As local liaisons many of you know the definition inside and out, and you work with it daily, but no matter how many times we go over the definition, when the word homelessness is used, typically, this is what comes to mind: (slide photos appear) the stereotypical image of those who are out in the street, (image of tents set up on freeway offramp) under bridges and freeway overpasses, (image of tents on the street) in tents lined along the streets, (image with people with grocery carts filled with personal belongings) grocery carts with belongings, or suffering from mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction.

So, take a moment and really think about that.

There are two reasons I want you to pause and think about the definition and think about homelessness differently. The first is that this, this (emphasis) is the stigma our students and their families feel when identifying themselves for McKinney-Vento homeless education services. And we wonder why we may have a hard time identifying them.

We work with the definition of students experiencing homelessness, the students you work with and have identified to serve, and that looks different.

Slide 4: Homeless Definition

First image appears): The reality is that many families and students don’t fit that image or definition. As a matter of fact, many don’t see themselves as experiencing homelessness until you help them understand the benefits and rights, and you have removed that stigma in assisting students. But then others will need enlightening.

(Second image appears): For example, how many times have you shared with others that your work involves students experiencing homelessness and heard, “poor things, or I’m glad we don’t have any homeless students here,” but then...

(Third image appears): share the definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth, couch surfing, or what it means to be doubled up due to economic hardship, or any other parts of the definition that you know so well, and then you hear “Wow, I think I might know someone who fits that definition?!” or staff who might say, “I think we’ve been under identifying students, I know some families like that.”

So again, this is our number one strategy is…

Slide 5: Share the Message

(Speaker clicks image to animate) ...share the message through your role in education.

That means sharing the definition, and sharing the benefits and rights afforded to students under this eligibility.

And a how can you share that message? Well today’s webinar is about strategies and the plan….

Slide 6: Elevator Pitches, posters, and strategies… to have elevator pitches. Elevator pitches as you may know are quick ways of sharing a message, share understanding and be able to create an interest or concern to then, in turn, better identify students.

The other way is to use the examples of homelessness and turn those into opportunities for sharing the message, using posters, using the examples of homelessness as points of contact for your work, and a number of other strategies that we hope you will find useful.

Slide 7: The McKinney-Vento Act

So, the quick one-slide overview of the Act - The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was enacted in 1987 to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness have access to the same free, appropriate public education as their non-homeless peers.

The message in two short sentences, or your elevator pitch here would be that the McKinney Vento homeless Assistance Act has been in existence for over 30 years. It was enacted to ensure and establish the rights of children and youth who are experiencing homelessness.

Slide 8: Homeless Definition: Understanding Fixed, Regular and Adequate

So, maybe you share your pitch of the act and you get more questions about the definition, or you need to present to the board and you only get two minutes, etc. The homeless definition for education is to determine if it is Fixed, Regular and Adequate. 

You can add to your elevator pitch that: Fixed means it is permanent; Regular, that it is consistent; and Adequate, that it is sufficient. Remind yourself and others: Would you be able to sleep at night knowing a child is staying here? Could it be deemed safe?

You could also consider this as an elevator pitch to those who question the eligibility of a family, one that you feel needs to be considered homeless.

Slide 9: Examples of Homelessness- Strategies – HUD

Another elevator pitch that is important is making sure partners who use the HUD definition or the Housing and Urban Development definition for homelessness understand there is a big difference from the education definition. For example, that motels and hotels are part of the definition in education for homelessness, but not considered homeless under HUD’s definition. This is important at meetings with colleagues who are in public health or housing agencies that may not realize the difference, or need to be reminded of the difference. Sometimes statistics are what sticks with others, so remember that of the almost 300,000 students currently identified as experiencing homelessness in the state of California, only 16 percent of them fit the HUD definition of homelessness to qualify for housing assistance, that’s less than 20 percent.

Slide 10: Homeless Education Poster

The Homeless Education, “You can Enroll in School" poster is a free poster that must be posted in areas frequented by parents, guardians and youth which includes rights and protections for students experiencing homelessness, and includes the contact information of the local liaisons, both at the county and district levels. The web link on the slide directs you to the California Department of Education's Homeless Education Resource page where you can download or request free posters in seven additional languages other than English. (You may locate the link on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 11: Examples of Homelessness- Strategies (1 of 3)

After talking about the definition of homelessness we usually move on to the of examples of homelessness in our typical presentations. You all know these but today I want you to view them as strategies and opportunities!

You should view the examples of homelessness as a list of the areas to find in your community and where to post the homeless education, you can enroll in school posters!

Trailer Parks, camp grounds add a poster in a common area.

Cars, parks and abandoned buildings- there is an example of we heard about adding a small print out of the poster or other materials, such as flyer to cars with out of state license plates, post a poster to mailboxes that are communal and near parks, and abandoned buildings. The apartment complexes near these is another location to post a poster. Public or private places not designated for sleeping, such as bus stops, street corners; we’ll share more about this strategy later in our presentation.

Slide 12: Examples of Homelessness- Strategies (2 of 3)

As we continue with the examples of homelessness, I want to be clear, when we talk about shelters, this includes ALL shelters, children and youth living in youth shelters, family shelters, domestic violence shelters, emergency shelters and transitional living programs are all considered to be experiencing homelessness under the definition of education.

Develop a Public Education Needs form, as a part of the intake for shelters as a strategy, so that it the information of students in a shelter can be more easily shared by the shelter with the family liaison. An example of the Public Education needs form could include names and grades of the children or youth along with clothes size so that uniforms, if needed can be coordinated at the shelter with the liaison. Add questions about school of origin, transportation, etc.

Slide 13: Examples of Homelessness- Strategies (3 of 3)

The last of our examples of homelessness, these continue to be connections and strategies, areas to share the message and connect with families. Reach out to migrant education program staff and connect with them and the families they serve in order to ensure identification and support. Lastly, post signs in pediatricians’ offices and in hospitals as resources.

Slide 14: Homeless Education Poster Strategy

Get creative with your use and placement of the poster to make on impact on your audience. Use the poster as a strategy.

The following slides are images from an artist who worked on a campaign with the organization Raising the Roof working to highlight youth homelessness.

Slide 15: Poster as a Strategy (1 of 5)

On each of these slides you will see a creative way to use a poster as well as a link to the California Department of Education (CDE) Homeless Education resource page where you can order Homeless education Posters for free. (A scene of a poster on the ground and leaning against a building saying, "If this were a homeless youth, most people would not even bother to look down.")

Slide 16: Poster as a Strategy (2 of 5)

These images are ideas and creative strategies for using the poster. (A scene of a poster on the side of a bus stop shelter that says, "If you don't think homeless youth want to get off the street, spend a night sleeping in this bus shelter.")

Slide 17: Poster as a Strategy (3 of 5)

Another strategy we heard that was worth sharing is to have posters or flyers on the back of bathroom stalls- if youth or a student is able to take a picture in private and no one will see them take the picture they can still access the information and support. (A poster on the ground and leaning again a brick wall in a window inset from the sidewalk that says, "Down here. A bad place for a poster. An even worse place for a homeless youth.")

Slide 18: Poster as a Strategy (4 of 5)

(A scene of a poster on the ground and leaning against a building at a corner saying, "A poster down here makes you stop. A homeless youth down here makes you walk faster.")

Slide 19: Poster as a Strategy (5 of 5)

(A scene of a poster on the ground and leaning against a building at a corner saying, "If this were a homeless youth, most people would not even bother to look down.")

Slide 20: Homeless Education “You Can Enroll in School” Poster

Again, free posters are available on the CDE homeless education resource page. (A photo of the "You can Enroll in School" poster and a link to it on the web site is on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 21: Using Data as a Strategy

Using data is another strategy for identifying students experiencing homelessness. Use your data system to sort students by address to be able to identify double-up situations, students who have a motel, hotel or shelter as their address. Make sure you are connecting with that location to share your messaging and contact information.

Use numbers from your Free and Reduced-Price Meal counts, the top 5-10 percent of your Free and Reduced-Price Meal counts are typically comparable to the student list of those you’ve currently identified as experiencing homelessness.

Make the California School Dashboard, Consolidated Application and Reporting System, California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System data comparisons, note changes in data between schools, for example if you have 5 percent of children in elementary school A identified as homeless students, and 5 percent in Elementary school B, but middle school Y reports no students, there needs to be follow up.

Slide 22: Rights Afforded to Students Immediate Enrollment: A Strategy

Immediate enrollment is a right under the McKinney-Vento Act, again this is not the session for the definition and rights for immediate enrollment, the focus today is strategies for identification.

But, don’t miss the opportunity presented at the time of enrollment to identify students possibly experiencing homelessness. If a student or family is attempting to enroll in school after an enrollment period, or showing up in the middle of the school year, this could be a sign of a student or the family is experiencing homelessness. Use this opportunity to ask if the student was enrolled at any other schools, some students who are experiencing homelessness have previously enrolled at multiple schools, creating gaps in their learning, and poor or inconsistent attendance, making it that much more important to immediately enroll students.

Slide 23: Immediate Enrollment and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Definition

Immediate enrollment for homeless students includes unaccompanied homeless youth as well.

Unaccompanied homeless youth is defined as a child or youth who meets the McKinney-Vento definition and is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

This may include a child as young as 12 and up to the age of 22 under the McKinney-Vento Act. If you think about it, 12 to 22 is not only a large age span, but also a large educational span. Think about all of different schools and adults a 12-22-year old’s come in contact with. That number is even higher for students experiencing homelessness.

The difficulty at enrollment, again is a strategy - getting signatures from adults or parents, may lead to forging signatures and youth may avoid situations that require adult or monetary guidance.

Slide 24: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth are often a population that is difficult to identify due to fear of authority figures. Youth have shared they are perceived as having attitudes, due to an adult or staff person not understanding their needs. What you are seeing here is a poster about potential from the organization raising the roof, which I shared more of their messaging earlier in the poster strategies. (A scene with a chair left at the street sidewalk and with a poster that says "You see an abandoned chair on the street and you think " it has the potential to be something beautiful." You see a homeless youth on the street and you think "Don't make eye contact.".)

Youth experiencing homelessness can often be identified by changes in grades, appearance and attendance. If students become withdrawn or quiet; change their engagement. Sharing your message with teachers and counselors who see these students daily makes it that much more important.

Slide 25: Do’s and Don'ts from Youth

In a session for school house connection youth shared the following do’s and don’ts:

  1. Encourage and Empower: As the student once said, "I already have doubt and discourage myself. I don’t need you to add to that."
  2. Remove labels and decriminalize being a homeless youth: Such as asking for signatures for class attendance, proof of homelessness, transportation that singles out youth for their homelessness, or enforcing rules and grading practices more harshly and without flexibility. 
  3. Show Discretion: Don’t pull students out of class, or show favoritism, giving gifts, food, or help in front of other classmates. Youth often do not share with peers, much less with staff.
  4. Boundaries and a balance in your compassion: Don’t foster a codependent relationship or overstep a boundary by creating a relationship you cannot sustain long term and for all students.  
  5. Follow through: Simple, if you offer assistance, help the student make the call - check in on them.
  6. Don’t judge: Just be yourself and remove titles when speaking with youth
  7. Listen and defend: Speak up for your students who are experiencing homelessness, share their points of view and your strategies with other staff who works with them, or during decision making and planning.

Slide 26: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Boards

During our state coordinator’s training with the United States Department of Education, youth shared with our team a few key points that really made an impact on me and I, in turn, wanted to share that messaging with you today.

Youth mentioned current homelessness, but just as important is the past homelessness status. You could be serving a student and family that is vulnerable, at risk of homelessness again, or dealing with the residual effects of recent homelessness.

Many youth may not realize they are in crisis, much less that the school and staff can meet a need they have. So share resources and services with all students; do not isolate the services out of a concern for one student.

Quote: “Don’t feel sorry, meet a need, we need actions and follow through.”

It takes time to develop trust, and share your story they need to feel safe, not be judged.

As one youth said, “I am a survivor, I’m not going back and reliving my experiences just to tell you my story.” Avoid re-traumatization, listen so that they feel heard, and develop plans, resources that you have actually vetted. For example, have you called the hotline you are referring the student to? Have you visited the shelter that you are referring them to? Have you seen the clothes or donated to the food closet you are recommending? Youth shared, “If I have to share my situation, tell you my story, it needs to be worth reliving - make my pain your purpose.”

Slide 27: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth - HELP

Youth experiencing homelessness and unaccompanied homeless youth are students who need a voice and are very difficult to identify. Although this is a webinar about strategies, I could not move on with our session today without mentioning two exceptional resources: the California Coalition for youth, the hotline here in California available 24/7 via text or by phone, and the additional information for staff and resources for staff at School House connection.

Slide 28: Shared Responsibility

We’ve talked about sharing a message, understanding how to speak to students and families, all of which are the most important and foundational parts of identification.

Identification is also a shared responsibility.

One of the main strategies that directly aligns with the responsibilities is to train all personnel to share your message. We don’t want the liaison being the only one who understands homelessness. While McKinney-Vento liaisons bear the local-level legal responsibility for serving students experiencing homelessness, we at the CDE also consider teachers, enrollment staff, nutritional service staff, bus drivers, school nurses, the front-line staff who are all well-positioned to observe and respond to student needs.

Some LEAs only train the required or recommended - Admins, Principals, etc. The following strategies are for you to go beyond the required and share your message with the staff who see things you may not. The bus driver who notices student now being driven to the bus stop or a cafeteria worker who notices a student hoarding food.

Slide 29: Housing Questionnaire (1 of 2)

Train the enrolling or registrar staff as you roll out the housing questionnaire. Remind them that when working with students and families it’s about asking the right questions, making sure the questions are not judging personal choices, or making a personal judgement.

Have staff ask themselves:

Is the family or youth living in someone else’s residence as an urgent measure to avoid being on the street or in another dangerous situation?

Where would the family or youth live if not sharing someone else’s housing?

Have staff try to get an understanding if the family or youth have a legal right to be in the residence, meaning can the family or youth be asked to leave at any time with no legal recourse?

The strategy for the housing questionnaire that I want you to take away is to implement as soon as possible. Making this enrollment and identification process about the housing situation and stability versus a personal judgement of the families’ circumstances.

Make sure to have all schools use a housing questionnaire as a part of the annual enrollment packet, at registration, or as a part of the emergency information update. This will help you identify students without being intrusive and give you a more accurate and current count of students experiencing homelessness, and it should be done at least annually. 

Slide 30: Housing Questionnaire (2 of 2)

The California Department of Education has created a template and posted it on our website along with instructions and guidance covered here today. The questionnaire is also available in more than seven languages other than English. (Please see the corresponding slide for the link that will take you to website that contains the Housing Questionnaire.)

Slide 31: Identification Strategies: Transportation

Train and share your message with transportation staff, they are one more staff person that sees students daily, and can watch out for things you cannot, such as;

Changes in pick up or drop off locations,

Children and youth coming out of cars rather than the apartment or home they were coming out of before, and

Students near a stop or along the route that are not attending school, and could be.

Slide 32: Identification Strategies: Community Partners Public Health Agencies

It’s important to work with your public health agencies in sharing the message and the definition, especially when it’s different than something they are typically used to. Many local public health agencies hold health fairs; attend those. Have giveaways and add to the booths or whatever events that they’re having. (To find your local public health agencies, you can find the link on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 33: Identification Strategies: Community Partners Early Education

Young parents—especially those unmarried—had three times the risk of experiencing homelessness compared to non-parenting peers. This finding is alarming, not only because of the risks posed to young people themselves, but also to their children; one more reason to partner and connect with Early Education partners and the events that they hold. To find a local early education program visit the (The Child Care Resource & Referral Network) link on the corresponding slide and enter your zip code. 

Slide 34: Identification Strategies: Community Partners City Council

City council and youth are many times already working together locally, take advantage of those relationships and events to insert your message. Have a booth, have posters to add to giveaways, attend their events, and get feedback and planning.  

Slide 35: Identification Strategies: Community Partners Tribal

And since we are mentioning partnerships for those of you with tribal educators and partners in your communities, please share in the identification and support of children and youth experiencing homelessness. There are over 100 federally recognized tribes in California. (Use the link on the corresponding slide to find out where and who they are.)

Once identified: find your counter-part, join workgroups/task forces and be reciprocal about your involvement. Meaning, ensure that decision makers are invited and also attend meetings or convenings.

Slide 36: Identification Strategies: Peers and Youth

Churches and faith-based programs are opportunities for you to share your message and key points with youth groups. Motivate them to share the message and posters. These organizations and groups are often time looking for opportunities and causes to support and collaborate with.  

Coordinate with afterschool program sites, such as the YMCA and libraries. Have them also post the poster and help collect resources.

Have a coordinated message. We heard of an example where there was a "wear a red shirt" day for homeless awareness month for all students. Students were educated about the definition and they were more likely to confide in their peers.

Slide 37: Purpose

As an educator you should know that for our students experiencing homelessness, school can be the security, stability, predictability and enjoyment in their lives. And remember: "turn my pain into your purpose." And as another youth shared, "many will act without thinking; but worse are the ones who think and do not act." Act on these strategies! Come up with more, share your message, share them with partners and collaborate. Make your students struggles and their pain your purpose!

Slide 38: Thank You

Before we end, I want to say thank you for all of your work that you do everyday. And thank you for the time you have taken today to invest in these strategies that will help ensure that some of our most vulnerable students are connected to services and supports that may change their lives.

Slide 39: Listserv and Liaisons

Please take a moment and make sure that you have joined the CDE homeless education resources listserv and make sure you know who your local district, and county liaisons are. (The links to the listserv and the district and county liaisons are on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 40: Resources

Remember to continually to visit and check the CDE’s homeless education web page at the following link. (The link is located on the corresponding slide). You will find many resources included in today’s presentation as well as the recording.

Slide 41: Contact Information

We are always here for you; please reach out to our program you can always reach us via email or by phone. (See email address to our program and phone number on the corresponding slide.)

Slide 42: Certificate of Completion

Don’t forget to print out your certificate of completion. (The corresponding slide contains the Certificate of Completion.)


Questions:   Integrated Student Support and Programs Office | | 866-856-8214
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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