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Legal Issues Facing Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Casey Trupin and Joy Moses. NAEHCY Conference Portland, OR November 2007. Who Are Homeless Unaccompanied Children and Youth?.

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legal issues facing unaccompanied homeless youth casey trupin and joy moses

Legal Issues Facing Unaccompanied Homeless YouthCasey Trupin and Joy Moses

NAEHCY ConferencePortland, ORNovember 2007

who are homeless unaccompanied children and youth
Who Are Homeless Unaccompanied Children and Youth?
  • Must meet the McKinney-Vento definition of homeless: Children and youth wholack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence:
    • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
    • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations
    • Living in emergency or transitional shelters
    • Abandoned in hospitals
    • Awaiting foster care placement
    • Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live
    • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, etc.
    • Migratory children living in above circumstances
who are homeless unaccompanied children and youth cont d
Who Are Homeless Unaccompanied Children and Youth? (Cont’d)
  • Must Meet McKinney Definition of Unaccompanied Youth: Youth in homeless situations not in the physical custody of a parent of guardian
  • Is there an age range?

The McKinney-Vento Act does not provide an age range

  • Is there an age limit on serving secondary students?

MV applies to all school-aged children and youth (as defined by state law); typically states allow youth to attend school up to the age of 21

youth and the law statistics source national alliance to end homelessness www naeh org
Youth and the Law Statistics (Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness www.naeh.org)
  • Researchers estimate that about 5 to 7.7 percent of youth – about 1 to 1.6 million youth per year – experience homelessness.
  • Homeless youth often flee homes where they experience physical and sexual abuse. Approximately 40 to 60 percent experience physical abuse and between 17 and 35 percent experience sexual abuse.
  • Homeless youth experience high rates of mental health disabilities (between 20 to 50 percent) due to exposure to violence and chaos in their daily lives.
  • Substance abuse is not characteristic of runaway youth, but is more likely in street-dependent populations and older youth. However, various studies of homeless youth have shown high rates of parental alcohol or drug abuse (24 to 44 percent) which likely contributes to youth homelessness
youth and the law statistics source national alliance to end homelessness www naeh org1
Youth and the Law Statistics (Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness www.naeh.org)
  • At the end of 2005, over 11,000 children fled a foster care placement and were never found.
  • Most homeless youth (78%) are still in school.
  • Girls are more likely to access shelter services and boys are more prevalent among older homeless youth or street-dependent youth.
  • Youth of color are over-represented in homelessness youth populations (especially African American, Latino, and American Indian youth).
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are also disproportionately represented in homeless youth populations and suffer greater victimization while at home and on the streets.
  • In 2005 over 2,500 homeless and runaway youth were turned away from shelter and housing due to lack of bed spaces.
local homeless education liaison duties
Local homeless education liaison duties
  • Identify youth through school and community
  • Helping unaccompanied youth select and enroll in school
  • Informing them of rights to transportation to the school of origin and assisting with arranging
  • Informing them of right to appeal school selection decisions counter to their wishes
  • Informing school personnel of requirements of the law and needs of youth
must schools enroll children and youth in school if there is no proof of guardianship
Must schools enroll children and youth in school if there is no proof of guardianship?

Yes.

  • Lack of guardianship papers cannot delay or prevent enrollment. School districts may establish their own policies to meet this mandate.
    • HOWEVER…
  • Schools/districts cannot require individuals/caretakers to obtain guardianship of youth after enrollment, or within a specified number of days, in order for youth to remain enrolled and attending.
unaccompanied youth key provisions
Unaccompanied Youth—Key Provisions
  • Liaisons must help unaccompanied youth choose and enroll in a school, after considering the youth’s wishes, and inform the youth of his or her appeal rights.
  • School personnel must be made aware of the specific needs of runaway and homeless youth.
slide10
What if an unaccompanied youth has been suspended for misbehavior from his/her former school? Must the school enroll this child?
  • The McKinney-Vento Act does not overrule state or local discipline policies. If a youth is suspended for behavior unrelated to his or her homelessness, regular enrollment procedures apply
  • If discipline action was taken against a youth for reasons related to homelessness (for example, excessive absences caused by homelessness), the youth must not be penalized or denied enrollment and the policy should be revised
what obligation does a school have to help unaccompanied youth make up lost credits
What obligation does a school have to help unaccompanied youth make up lost credits?
  • Many youth lose credits due to mobility and absences—consequences of homelessness
  • McKinney-Vento requires that schools and districts remove barriers to enrollment and retention and provide academic support—LEA policies should be revised
  • Youth should be provided academic support through tutoring, programs with cooperating universities, or online courses, for example; appropriate use of Title I set aside funds
slide12
Who can make decisions for an unaccompanied youth regarding participation in extra curricular activities, field trips, etc.?
  • States and school districts have implemented a variety of policies and procedures
    • Youth make decisions on their own
    • Local liaison makes decisions
    • Caregiver forms allow other adults to make decisions
who can make decisions related to special education for an unaccompanied youth
Who can make decisions related to special education for an unaccompanied youth?
  • IDEA requires LEAs to appoint surrogate parents for unaccompanied homeless youth within 30 days
  • IDEA regulations permit staff members of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs and outreach programs to serve as temporary surrogate parents for unaccompanied homeless youth
  • Liaisons and other school staff can also be temporary surrogates
what about school liability or parental disapproval
What about school liability or parental disapproval?

Liability is based on the concept of negligence, or a failure to exercise reasonable care — following federal law and providing appropriate services are evidence of reasonable care

do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth
Do schools have to contact the police when enrolling unaccompanied youth?
  • State law determines the obligation of a school liaison or service provider to alert other agencies about unaccompanied youth
  • Most state laws that address this issue permit, but do not require, schools to report unaccompanied youth; many laws also give schools the option to contact social services instead of the police
  • The school district should work with police and social services regarding mandatory reporting to ensure that care is exercised to keep a youth in school and serve his/her best interest
legal needs of school aged youth
Dependency

Paternity

Custody

Education

Disability

Homelessness

Immigration

Emancipation

CHINS

Truancy

Access to Benefits

Access to Tx

Guardianship

Employment

Runaway

Legal Needs of School-Aged Youth
health care
Health Care
  • Medical Care through Medicaid / EPSDT
  • Consent to Treatment
  • SSI
  • Legal Guardian Permission
  • Charity Care
immigration
Immigration
  • Special Immigration Juvenile Status
  • Access to Education
employment
Employment
  • Sealing of Records
  • Child Labor Laws
  • Emancipation
  • TANF / State benefits (see next slide)
tanf and homeless youth
TANF and homeless youth
  • Child-Only TANF – given regardless of income of nonparent caretakers
  • To receive TANF benefits, teen parent must live with a:
    • parent or legal guardian
    • another adult relative; or
    • in another approved living situation
  • A teen/teen parent can apply without his/her parents
  • Parents’ income is irrelevant for eligibility
ssi and homeless youth
SSI and homeless youth
  • The only public benefit that provides a monthly cash payment to a single unaccompanied youth with disabilities.
  • May also receive SSI benefits to supplement their TANF income.
  • Youth who receive SSI are also automatically eligible for Medicaid, which gives them access to low cost health care.
  • A youth between the ages of 16 and 18 may sign their own application, as long as they are:
    • mentally competent, have no
    • court appointed representative, and are not in the care of another person or institution.
food stamps and homeless youth
Food stamps and homeless youth
  • The food stamp program provides funds that youth can use to buy food at grocery stores, certain retail stores, and some restaurants.
  • No age minimum
  • No parent signature required
  • No denial solely due to lack of address/photo id.
family law
Family Law
  • Paternity / Custody
  • Third Party (Nonparental) Custody
  • Guardianship
  • Child Support
  • Emancipation
housing homeless
Housing/Homeless
  • Abuse and Neglect
  • Status offender: CHINS/JINS
  • Guardianship
  • Third Party Custody
  • Emancipation
  • Runaway
education
Education
  • Enrollment
  • Truancy
  • Discipline
  • Special Education
  • Special Education Discipline
  • Financial Aid
slide27

Can an unaccompanied youth apply for federal financial aid (through FAFSA) without providing information about their parents’ income and their parents signature?

  • Under the Higher Education Act, youth who meet the definition of “independent student” can apply for federal aid without parental information or signature.
  • A financial aid administrator at a college can designate a student as independent due to “other circumstances;” may consider homelessness, with advocacy.
slide28

Can an unaccompanied youth apply for federal financial aid (through FAFSA) without providing information about their parents’ income and their parents signature?

  • NEW! Starting July 1, 2009
  • Youth will be considered independent students if they are verified as unaccompanied and homeless - OR as unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting - during the school year in which the application is submitted
  • Verification must be made by a McKinney-Vento Act school district liaison; a HUD homeless assistance program director or their designee; a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program director or their designee; or a financial aid administrator.
  • Youth who are in foster care at any time after the age of 13 will automatically be independent students
tips for a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth
Tips for a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth
  • Revise LEA policies to accommodate unaccompanied youth and comply with the McKinney-Vento Act.
  • Train LEA homeless liaisons and all school enrollment staff, secretaries, guidance counselors, principals and teachers on the definition, rights and needs of unaccompanied youth.
  • Develop caretaker forms, self-enrollment forms for unaccompanied youth, and other forms to replace typical proof of guardianship. Such forms should be carefully crafted so they do not create further barriers or delay enrollment.
tips for a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth 2
Tips for a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of unaccompanied youth - 2
  • Provide unaccompanied youth the opportunity to enroll in diversified learning opportunities, such as vocational education, credit-for-work programs and flexible school hours.
  • Provide a “safe place” and trained mentor at school, for unaccompanied youth to access as needed.
  • Permit flexible exceptions to school policies on class schedules, tardiness, absences and credits to accommodate the needs of unaccompanied youth.
  • Build relationships with legal services for trainings, updates, advocacy for individual students in non-educational areas
tips for working with attorneys
Tips for Working with Attorneys
  • Be clear on your responsibilities to communicate with/through District counsel
  • Open communication
    • Quick responses generally show desire to resolve issue
  • Understand the advantages/disadvantages of written communication
    • much clearer and often quicker
    • Oral - can communicate tone, can be more personal
  • Don\'t start out on the defensive or “take the bait”
tips for finding legal services providers for children and youth
Tips for finding legal services providers for children and youth
  • www.abanet.org/litigation/committee/childrens_l/directory.pdf
  • www.lsc.gov/about/grantee_links.php
  • www.ptla.org/links.htm#services
  • www.jlc.org
  • www.youthlaw.org
what national groups can help
What national groups can help?
  • National Runaway Switchboard www.nrscrisisline.org
  • National Network for Youth

www.nn4youth.org

  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/fysb/content/youthdivision/index.htm
for additional questions and help contact
For additional questions and help contact:

As Well As the Following National Partners:

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