Education for Children & Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH)
49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
We work to reduce and remove educational barriers for youth experiencing homelessness in the Springfield/Morton communities. If you are:
- a student living in emergency housing,
- a student or family displaced from their housing,
- a runaway,
- a parent or guardian of a student lacking housing,
- or someone working with homeless students and their families.
Then, the office of the Homeless Liaison for the Springfield School District will work with building personnel to help you obtain any assistance you might be eligible for, including educational resources and help with transportation.
The information below explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act removes educational barriers for students.
The McKinney–Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act guarantees a free and appropriate public education for all homeless children and youth. B.E.C. 42 U.S.C. 11431 outlines procedures for making school placement decisions, enrolling students, and determining responsibility.
McKinney-Vento Act Basics At-a-Glance:
What is the definition of a “homeless youth” under McKinney-Vento?
“Homeless” is defined as “anyone lacking a fixed, adequate, regular nighttime residence.”
What situations fit this definition?
- Staying in the home of other people due to unavailable housing, financial hardship, or similar circumstances
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks (in some instances – examples: leaking roof, no heat, etc.), public places, or campgrounds due to unavailable suitable housing options
- Living in an emergency shelter or transitional housing
- Unaccompanied (not living in direct care of legal parent or guardian) or runaway youth
- Refugee and migrant youth
How does McKinney-Vento help these students?
The law makes sure that these students receive a free and suitable public education by removing barriers to school enrollment and full, basic, daily participation in school activities. This includes:
- Immediate enrollment
- Free and Reduced School Lunch
- Help from school with any necessary enrollment documents
- Help from school setting up transportation service (if the student qualifies)
- Help from school with obtaining basic school supplies
- Help from school with obtaining basic clothing needs
- Help from school with basic high school graduation needs and expenses
Where can I find more information for Pennsylvania?
You can visit the PA Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness site.
Under McKinney-Vento, eligible families may receive assistance with school enrollment, transportation (if applicable), school supplies and supplemental items (as available), targeted education/job/life skills instruction, subject tutoring, and referrals to partner agencies. If a family becomes homeless during the school year they are able to receive services throughout the remainder of the year.
- Enrollment Assistance: Admissions & Transfers
- Transportation Assistance
- Counseling Support
Enrollment, Transfers, and Admission
Students experiencing homelessness may have the legal right to either remain in their school of origin or enroll in the neighborhood school of their current temporary living address.
- If the student/parent/guardian opts to stay in the school of origin and the distance between the temporary address and the school is one (1.0) mile or more, a school counselor or social worker will work with the Transportation Office to make sure that the student receives the proper transportation assistance needed to attend school.
The student/parent/guardian may have the right to enroll in the neighborhood school of their new address. If student/parent/guardian lives in an emergency shelter/transitional housing, a letter signed by a leader or administrator from the facility must be forwarded to the office of the district’s Homeless Liaison as soon as possible to register that address for transportation. If you are “doubled-up” (living with another family member or friend due to hardship) or have no place, contact the district’s registrar at 610-938-6018 to verify your temporary address. Refugee students will be assigned a school counselor or social worker to identify support services.
An alternative placement may be made for the student’s best interests. It can also be made under the suggestion of our expert staff as each case is individualized. Other input can be received from the Office of Special Education for students with special education needs on a case-by-case basis.
If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment in a school:
- The homeless student shall be immediately admitted to the school in which the enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute;
- The parent or guardian of the student shall be provided with a written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment, including the rights of the parent, guardian, or student to appeal the decision;
- The student, parent, or guardian shall be referred to the district’s Homeless Liaison who shall carry out the appeal process as quickly as possible after receiving notice of the dispute; and
- In the case of unaccompanied youth, the homeless liaison shall ensure that the youth is immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of the dispute.
If the District seeks to place a homeless child in a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent, the School District shall inform the parent or the unaccompanied youth of the right to appeal. The District shall provide the parent or unaccompanied youth with written notice including the contact information of the ECYEH Program Coordinator Michelle Connor.
Pennsylvania’s Education for children and Youth Experiencing homelessness program: Regional Map
The first step is getting to school.
If students experiencing homelessness live at least one mile (1.0) away from the school, they are eligible to receive transportation assistance.
- A school counselor or social worker will assist each student with transportation services in a timely manner.
- In the case of families/students that are residing in a Shelter or Transitional housing, the provider must give the student and/or parent a verification of residence letter requesting transportation. This letter must be submitted to the district’s Homeless Liaison (Jeffrey J. Zweiback) as soon as possible to establish a safe pick-up location.
- Students living in other homeless categories must have written confirmation/notification submitted to our transportation department from the child’s counselor/social worker.
- Families may not contact transportation directly and must work their counselor/social worker in obtaining transportation services.
- Emergency/transitional housing providers should notify counselor/social worker when the student moves from the facility. If the student moves between or among emergency or transitional housing and the location is still a mile or more from school, student transportation may be continued throughout the school year. However, a new bus run must be created so notification to the school with supporting documentation must occur as soon as possible so as to not interrupt the child’s education.
- Homeless students temporarily residing outside of the Springfield School District boundaries may be eligible for transportation. A required approval from the Homeless Liaison (Jeffrey J. Zweiback) must be received in order to process this type of request. In the case of out of district transportation, this may take up to 5 days to arrange and may require extended travel periods.
Are school districts responsible for identifying homeless youth?
Yes. The Springfield School District works with the Homeless Liaison to ensure the McKinney-Vento Act law is upheld for students experiencing homelessness. This person helps school staff identify these youth and direct them toward needed resources and support through connection to other services and agencies.
If a child’s temporary residence is located in a different county or state from the school of origin, which school district is responsible for the child’s education?
The law does not assign financial responsibility. The Springfield School District will work with the other district to ensure educational stability for the child.
If a student finds temporary housing across state lines, does the McKinney-Vento Act still apply?
Yes. The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law and applies in any situation across state lines. The student has the right to stay in their school of origin unless the parent/guardian wishes otherwise or it is not possible given the specific circumstances. Examples: Victims or persons evacuated from disasters. The Springfield School District will work with the other district to ensure educational stability for the child.
Does providing/arranging for transportation mean “door-to-door” service in a similar manner as special education students?
Generally, no. For students who fit the qualifying distance (at least 1.0 mile), transportation assistance comes in the form of a bus/van on the route of the temporary address. If the student is in special education and their IEP states “door-to-door,” then service must be arranged.
How “immediate” is immediate enrollment?
The McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll students experiencing homelessness immediately (standard dictionary definition: “without delay”), even if the student is unable to produce documents normally required for enrollment. “Enroll” means permitting the student to attend classes and fully participate in school activities. Generally this would be same day or the following day. Transportation may take a few days to set-up. A school counselor or social worker will work with transportation to help expedite the process.
How can a school determine what classes or services to provide for a student if there are no school records?
Following immediate enrollment, the receiving school must contact the previous school for records. If records cannot be transmitted immediately, class schedule information can be obtained from the parent/guardian or youth. The school can also input procedures for a quick assessment to determine class placement and any recommended supportive services.
What duty does the receiving school have to a student who has not been in school and enrolls mid-semester to give them credit for the work they do in the rest of the semester?
The law requires the Springfield School District to remove barriers to retention in school. Since inability to earn credits is an obstacle to remaining in school, the school must address that problem. Any necessary adjustments to the student’s schedule must be made to permit the student to obtain partial or prorated credit for their work.
Do private schools have McKinney-Vento obligations, especially as the school of origin for a homeless youth?
For schools entirely privately funded, McKinney-Vento does not apply so these schools are not required to allow students to continue to attend or provide transportation.
What duties do charter schools have to homeless students and must they appoint a homeless liaison?
Public charter schools have the same responsibilities under McKinney-Vento as other public schools and school districts. If a student experiencing homelessness attempts to enroll in a charter school, the school must enroll them as long as other students living in the same area would be eligible to attend the school, unless there is overcrowding or a specialized selection process. If the school has specific skills-related entrance requirements, for example, artistic ability requirements for a fine arts school, the student must meet them. Charter schools considered their own LEA (local education agency) should appoint a liaison to work with students experiencing homelessness.
- Board Policy 251 - Homeless Students
- Delaware County Shelter Listings
- ECYEH General Guide
- Education for Homeless Youth
- Emergency Shelter Directory
- National Homeless Youth Education Association
- District Procedures and Memoranda
The Board of School Directors of Springfield School District recognizes its obligation to ensure that homeless students have access to the same educational programs and services provided to other District students. The Board shall make reasonable efforts to identify homeless children within the District, encourage their enrollment, and eliminate existing barriers to their attendance and education, in compliance with federal and state law and regulations.
The Board may waive policies, procedures and administrative regulations that create barriers for enrollment, attendance, transportation and success in school of homeless students, based on the recommendation of the Superintendent.
The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national membership association dedicated to educational excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Through state and federal policy and technical assistance to our members, students, and the public, we change systems so all children and youth can learn, succeed academically, and achieve their dreams.