McKinney Vento Q&A
Q. Are there homeless students in Marblehead?
A. Yes, there are homeless students in Marblehead.
Q: What should I do if I become aware that a student is homeless or suspect that he might be homeless?
A. Staff members should immediately report their concerns to the principal. There are procedures in place for staff to contact parents and students to confirm their housing status. The principal will work with the Director of Student Services to ensure that students and families are aware of their rights under the law and that they are able to access all relevant support services.
Q: What if the student confides in me that his family is struggling and they are homeless, but asks that I not tell anyone or suggests that his or her parent doesn't want the school to know?
A. Staff members are obligated to inform the principal if they are aware that a student is homeless. The school will take every step to be respectful of families' privacy while also ensuring that they are aware of their rights and the supports available to them.
Q. Beyond reporting, how can I be helpful and supportive to a student who is homeless?
We are all part of a community whose goal is to support students in need.
- Be aware that it is quite likely that no matter where you work and what you do, if you work in a school, at some point you will come in contact with a student who is homeless.
- Be sensitive to the extreme stigma attached to homelessness and respect the privacy of the student and family. Do not ask or discuss a student’s housing status in public – this can often lead the family to going “underground” due to stigma and pulling the child from school.
- Respect the fact that domestic violence issues are a key ingredient in childhood homelessness and use extreme caution around communicating any address, housing, or attendance data. Even if domestic violence is not the cause of the student losing housing, put yourself in the parent/student’s place.
- Be compassionate regarding the daily stress and worry to a child and their family that is associated with living in a car, an emergency hotel shelter, in a friend’s basement, or in a shelter system designed for adults.
- Be flexible if a student discloses their housing status to you – the student may not have school materials, a desk to do homework, a safe place to store supplies, access to showering and clothes washing, and health or hygiene materials. You may be the first link in helping them get connected to resources.