Tips for Secretaries and Enrollment Personnel
Learn to identify the following tell-tale signs of homelessness:
- Chronic hunger or fatigue
- Erratic school attendance
- Attendance at multiple schools
- Poor grooming and/or clothing that draws attention
- Lack of records such as birth certificate, proof of residence, proof of guardianship, immunization or other medical records, or previous academic records; or incomplete records
- Parent who seems confused when asked about the last school attended by the student
- Low-income motel address on enrollment form
Statements from family when enrolling, such as:
"We've been having a hard time lately."
"It's a new address, I can't remember it."
"We move a lot and are staying with friends until we find a place."
For more information on identifying signs of homelessness, visit http://www.serve.org/nche/nche_web/warning.php
- Assure families that their children can enroll if you think that they are experiencing homelessness.
- Enroll the child immediately, even if they lack records normally required for enrollment. The immediate enrollment of homeless students without records is mandated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act. See McKinney-Vento At A Glance posted on this site.
- Ask for the name and city of the last school attended; then call that school and ask to have the student's academic records forwarded to your school.
- Arrange for the student to take a placement test if records are not available.
- Take the family to a private place to fill out enrollment forms.
- Offer to assist with filling out the enrollment forms. Hesitation may indicate an inability to read.
- Make sure the student enrolls in your school's free meal program. Homeless students are automatically eligible for free school meals.
- Have copies of the school/class supply list available.
- Provide a welcome pack with paper, a pencil, a pen, and crayons (younger grades).
- Privately and confidentially alert the child's teacher and guidance counselor of the student's living situation.
- Should the student transfer to another school. prepare a "parent pack", a 9" x 12" (laminated, if possible) mailing envelope with photocopies of the student's records (academic, immunization, etc.). Share a copy with the family and be prepared to transfer the student's records to the new school quickly to expedite his/her appropriate classroom placement.
- Be sensitive, patient, calm, and reassuring. You can make a difference!
For more information, contact the school district's local homeless education liaison.