Program helps students who have lost housing

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

HELENA – The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, required for public school systems under Title IX, is helping more students this year who have lost stable housing due to the pandemic and other factors.

The program is administered in Shelby County Schools by Beth Fuller, Federal Programs Specialist, and is designed to ensure that children considered homeless have access to the same public education as other students.

“We reach out to parents to try and understand their housing situation and determine how we can assist,” Fuller said. “Once you qualify for this program it eases enrollment for students. Families may not have the necessary documentation like proof of residence, or even inoculation or vaccination.”

Children enrolled on the McKinney-Vento roster will stay on the roster all year even if they have found stable housing. Which is designed to keep a strong stable point for children. Children enrolled in the program would also be allowed to stay in the same school even if they end up moving out of the school’s area.

Fuller also said that children enrolled on the roster can be helped in other areas such as clothing and school supplies and school related fees.

To be eligible for the program a child must meet certain criteria that would categorize them as homeless.

To be considered homeless children must lack either nightly housing in a location that is fixed or constant, regular or consistent housing in one location and adequate housing, with access to hot and cold water, no major infrastructure issues or pest problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for the McKinney-Vento program especially in Shelby County Schools.

“Our roster is double what it was this time last year,” Fuller. “I have heard from other districts that they have not had as many because they have not been able to reach out to families. Our registrars and counselors have done a really great job getting to know our families and needs.”

Fuller said the district as a whole has gone out of its way to make sure that families and students know that this program is available. Teachers and counselors have been working hard to keep track of their students and make sure they are okay.

The first and best contact for students in this situation is the child’s school counselors, however those interested can find more information about the program on Shelbyed.k12.al.us.

Parents and students can also reach out to Fuller at 682-6667 or by email at bfuller@shelbyed.org.