Lack of awareness is the biggest driver of homeless family difficulties with school. Far too many of our homeless students don't receive services because:
Housing situations can change rapidly with a downturn in the economy, and a family that has never had to consider the prospect of homelessness in the past has never had a reason to become aware of federal law and local options. Combined with possible embarrassment or shame over their situation, they are often not forthcoming in seeking information.
The same can be true of teachers; if they have not historically worked with any families in a homeless situation due to their past assignments, then they may not be "tuned in" to recognition...or be aware of the options they have for remedying the situation.
Unfortunately, it's the child or youth who suffers the consequences as they slip further and further behind.
School districts have the obligation to distribute notices about who qualifies as a homeless family. However, the most likely time a parent will see this information is upon registration - and families don't register every year...but they can become homeless at any time. So whose job is it?
In large part, the "job" falls to the person who is in daily contact with the students and families. That's teachers.
Reaching out doesn't take much time or effort. It is not a full-time job, like monitoring the signals from your students. Rather, if you follow the guidelines for parent teacher communication and family outreach, you'll find that it can be accomplished with very little time commitment...and very little effort if you take advantage of the free tools I've provided.
We can all spread awareness among teachers, leveraging our own concern for our most vulnerable students. In this section, I have provided multiple tools for not only educating your local staff by providing professional development for teachers, but for spreading the word through any online presence you have: websites, blogs, FaceBook or Twitter.
Let's take on this challenge. The homeless students exist. The resources exist. Teachers can bring the two together.
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The Homeless Student Article Directory
Direct links to ALL homeless student articles on this site
Spreading Homeless Family Awareness on the Web
Facebook comments, tweets, links and graphics - copy and paste!
Family Education and Outreach
How and when to communicate with parents about rights and options
Homeless Family Communication Tools
Free fliers, newsletter articles and headline banners about parental rights and options...in English and Spanish!
Educating Staff about Homeless Students
Complete lesson plans and support material for teacher education