Being Their Advocate: Helping UnHomeless Youth Access

Report
BEING THEIR ADVOCATE: HELPING
HOMELESS YOUTH ACCESS HIGHER
EDUCATION
College Connections for Student Success
February 2014
Meet NAEHCY
The National Association for the Education of
Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a
national grassroots membership association that
connects educators, parents, advocates, researchers,
and service providers to ensure school enrollment,
attendance and overall success for children and
youth whose lives have been disrupted by the lack
of safe, permanent, and adequate housing.
 Website: http://www.naehcy.org
How Many Youth Experience
Homelessness?
•
•
1.2 million children/youth
Public schools 1,168,354 homeless children/youth in
2012-13
–
–
–
•
10% increase over last year
24% increase overall since the 2009-2010 school year
44 states (83%) reported increases
2012-2013 FAFSA Data
–
–
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58,158 unaccompanied homeless youth nationwide
1,735 unaccompanied homeless youth in GA
57% increase from the 2011-2012 academic year
Paths to Being “On Our Own”




Family conflict: blended family issues, pregnancy,
sexual activity or orientation, school problems,
substance abuse
Abuse and/or neglect within the home
Parental incarceration, illness, hospitalization, or
death
Lack of space in temporary situations or shelter
policies that prohibit adolescent boys
Paths Continued

Child welfare issues
 Running
away from a placement
 Aging out of the system
 Significant correlation between involvement with the
child welfare system and experiencing homelessness as
an adult
But the Student Choose to Leave



A youth can be eligible regardless of whether
he/she was asked to leave the home or chose to
leave
Sometimes there is “more than meets the eye” for
youth’s home life situations
Educators do not need to understand or agree with
all aspects of a student’s home life to comply with
federal educational mandates
Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Rights &
Services

Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and
adequate nighttime residence, including:
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 the lack of adequate alternative accommodations
 Living in emergency or transitional shelters
 Awaiting foster care placement

Eligibility Continued

Living in a public or private place not designed for humans
to live

Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard
housing, bus or train stations, or a similar setting

Migratory children living in the above circumstances

Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances
For more info, see NCHE’s Determining Eligibility brief at
www.serve.org/nche/briefs.php
Fixed, Regular, Adequate



Fixed: Stationary, permanent, and not subject to change
Regular: Used on a predictable, routine, or consistent basis
(e.g. nightly); consider the relative permanence
Adequate: Sufficient for meeting both the physical and
psychological needs typically met in home environments
Can the student go to the SAME PLACE (fixed)
EVERY NIGHT (regular) to sleep in a
SAFE AND SUFFICIENT SPACE (adequate)?
Why the Broad Definition?







Shelters are often full and turn away youth
No shelters in many suburban and rural areas
Eligibility rules of often exclude unaccompanied
minors
Youth may fear adult shelters
Shelters often have time limits
Youth may be unaware of alternatives, fleeing in
crisis, living in over-crowded, temporary, and
sometimes unsafe environments
Shelters often are a last resort after all other
possibilities are exhausted
Unaccompanied Students Under MV

2-step process to determine eligibility
1)Does the student’s living arrangement meet the McKinneyVento Act’s definition of homeless?
2)Once homelessness is determined, is the student
unaccompanied?

Unaccompanied
 “not
in the physical custody of a parent or guardian”
Barriers to Higher Education for
Unaccompanied Homeless
Lack of access to parental financial information and
support
Lack of financial means to live independently and
safely
Inability to be financially self-sufficient once enrolled
in college
Limited housing options, especially in small towns or
rural areas
Struggling to balance school and other responsibilities
Lack of adult guidance and support
Lack of information about available support systems
Poll
Unaccompanied homeless youth may or may not feel
comfortable giving sufficient details to enrollment
staff to provide an adequate understanding of their
home life.
Would you discuss personal issues with an authority
figure you have just met?
Financial Aid and FAFSA Basics


Expected family contribution (EFC):
Families are expected to contribute to
higher education costs to the extent they
are able
FAFSA



Cannot be filed before January 1 prior to the
academic year in which student seeks to enroll
For dependent students, income and asset
information required for both the student and a
parent; parental signature required
For independent students, no parental signature
nor income and asset information is needed
UHY and the FAFSA
2012-13 ONLINE FAFSA
College Cost Reduction And Act
(CCRAA)

Independent student status for unaccompanied homeless
youth and self-supporting youth at risk of homelessness
 Can apply for financial aid without parental
signature or consideration of parental income
 Must be determined by:




Local liaison
RHYA-funded shelter director or designee
HUD-funded shelter director or designee
College financial aid administrator
Verification of Status Form

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Documentation of
Independent Student Status for the FAFSA
 Can
be used by any of the four verifiers
 Copy should be on file with the school, one with student,
and one sent to college/university
 Valid for one academic year
Application and Verification Guide
Updated Application and Verification Guide
released in 2013
 Borrows language from NCHE’s Determining
Eligibility brief
 Student can use the college’s administrative address
as his/her mailing address
 UHY may be 21 or younger or still enrolled in high
school on the date he/she signs the FAFSA
 Dependency override required for 22-23 year olds
 24 or older is automatic independent status

Application and Verification Guide

FAA verification
 Not required unless there is conflicting information
 Documented interview (even via phone) is
acceptable
 Should be done with discretion and sensitivity
 Some information may be confidential (e.g.
protected by doctor-patient privilege)
 Child welfare reports are not necessary
 Guidance recommends consulting with local liaisons,
State Coordinators, NAEHCY, school counselors,
clergy, etc.
Role of the Financial Aid Administrator
(FAA)


According to the AVG, if a student does not have,
and cannot get, documentation from a local
liaison, RHYA provider, or HUD provider, a FAA
must make a determination of
homeless/unaccompanied status
This is not an “exercise of professional judgment”
or a “dependency override” for youth 21 and
younger; this is determining the independent
student status of an unaccompanied homeless
youth
Campus Support Services
Financial
Aid
Academic
Support
Residence
Life
Police &
Public
Safety
Admissions
College
Student
Registrar
Health
Services
Counseling
Services
Community Support Services
DHS
Public
Assistance
ETV
College
Student
UHY
CMH
Shelter
Medicaid
Navigating Multiple Systems
DHS
Financial
Aid
Academic
Public
Support
Assistance
Residence
Life
CMH
Police &
Public
Safety
Admissions ETV
College
Student
from Foster
Care
Registrar
YIT
Health
Services
Counseling
Services
Medicaid
Best Practices on Campus
 Establish coordination between financial aid offices,
student support services, and campus housing
 Open a food and clothing bank on campus
 Consider housing options for homeless students when
dorms close:
 Leaving one residence hall open
 Allow UHY to stay in housing for international
students
 Provide a list of “host homes” in the community
 Establish Single Points of Contact (SPOCS) in
colleges/universities to help eliminate barriers to higher
education access
Best Practices on Campus for SPOC’s


SPOC’s can come from any office on campus
Assist students with the following
Admissions
 Financial Aid
 Academic Advising
 Remediation, Tutoring
 Student Life
 Housing, Counseling Center, Health Center, TRIO Programs
(Talent Search, Upward Bound, EOC, GEAR-UP),Learning
Disabilities Services, Life Skills, Financial Literacy,
Mentoring Programs

Best Practices Continued

Connect students with federal and community resources
that they may be eligible for
Medicaid
 Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
 Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)
 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Funded Shelters (RHYA)
 Administration for Children and Families


http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/grants/fysb-grantees
Statewide Networks



Convene a meeting with local stakeholders from the
McKinney-Vento K-12, Foster Care, Higher Education, and
RHYA/HUD shelter communities as well as other local
service providers and advocates
Allow each to share knowledge about their area of
expertise
 UHY and independent student definitions
 Financial aid
 Campus and community resources
Build an action plan for serving UHY that makes sense for
your community
Statewide Networks

Four Established Statewide Networks
 Colorado,
North Carolina, Kentucky, New Hampshire
 Have Single Points of Contact (SPOC’s) at each
college/university

Six New Statewide Networks
 Michigan,
Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma,
Florida

Upcoming Networks
 Indiana,
Montana, New York, New Jersey, Virginia
Colorado Network Example



Consists of stakeholders from:
 Colorado Department of Education
 K-12 McKinney-Vento Liaisons
 Higher Education personnel from Financial Aid,
Admissions, and Student Support Services
Collaborates to streamline the verification process between K12 and higher education
Has established Single Points of Contact (SPOCS) in all CO
colleges/universities to help eliminate barriers to higher
education access
Colorado Network Continued


Barriers addressed included waiving application fees,
deferring housing deposits, and connecting students with
community resources
In 2011 the Colorado taskforce along with the nonprofit
homeless service provider Family Tree established private
funding to assist UHY.
 SPOCs apply for funding through Family Tree to provide
student IDs, bedding, toiletry items, and other basic needs
not covered by other sources
LeTendre Scholarship
How do students apply?
 http://naehcy.org/letendre-scholarship-fund/aboutthe-fund
 Applicants must submit:
1) A completed application form;
2) An essay about the impact of homelessness on the their
lives and their desire to attend college (500-1,000 words)
 3) An official school transcript
 4) A minimum of one letter of recommendation from a
teacher, counselor, or other adult who can speak to the
applicant's qualifications and experiences


Deadline to apply for $2000 scholarship is June 2014
NAEHCY Resources
NAEHCY Higher Education Hotline:
855-446-2673
http://www.naehcy.org
Cyekeia Lee, Higher Education Liaison, [email protected]
 NAEHCY College Access and Success Toolkit,
 http://naehcy.org/sites/default/files/dl/toolkit.pdf
 Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Toolkits, FAFSA Week:
http://naehcy.org/tk/cl.html
 NAEHCY Podcast Series
 http://naehcy.org/educational-resources/podcasts
 FAFSA Tips for Unaccompanied Youth Without Stable Housing
 Helping Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Access College Financial Aid
Brief

Additional Resources

National Center for Homeless Education


National Resources Center for Permanency and Family
Connections


http://www.nrcpfc.org/fostering_connections/education.html
National College Access Network


http://center.serve.org/nche/states/state_resources.php
http://www.collegeaccess.org/
National Network for Youth

http://www.nn4youth.org/

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