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.