M-V Families in Transition Handbook
McKinney-Vento Families In Transition Handbook
Policy and Procedures
Family Liaison: Courtnay Ozanne
308 N. Broadway, Room #17
Belgrade, MT 59714
P.A.W.S. Place Resource Center (School Supplies, Clothes Closet, Mini-Food Pantry)
309 n. Broadway, Room #16
Belgrade, MT 59714
312 N. Weaver St.
Belgrade, MT 59714
Services We Provide:
● Assistance with Belgrade School District enrollment and registration process
● Assistance to obtain transportation to the child’s school of origin when possible
● Assistance with school supplies, backpacks and other resources needed for school
● Assistance with fees related to the full participation of school and school activities (i.e. field trips)
● Transportation assistance to promote parental involvement
● Referrals to community resources that include medical, food, housing, mental health and others
● Referrals to other Belgrade School District programs and departments
● Distribution of donated materials
Roles of the McKinney-Vento Program Staff (Family Liaison)
The Family Liaison is a Local Education Agency (LEA) staff responsible for ensuring the identification, school enrollment, attendance, and opportunities for academic success of students in homeless situations. Some of these activities may be performed by the local liaison, while others are accomplished by coordinating the efforts of other staff.
Local Liaisons must ensure that:
● Children and youth in homeless situations are identified by school personnel and through coordination of activities with other entities and agencies.
● Students experiencing homelessness receive educational services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and referrals to health, mental health, dental, and other appropriate services.
● Public notice of the educational rights of students in homeless situations is disseminated where children and youth receive services.
● Parents or guardians of students experiencing homelessness are informed of educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children.
● Enrollment disputes are mediated in accordance with the Enrollment Disputes section of the McKinney-Vento Act.
● Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness are fully informed of all transportation services provided under the McKinney-Vento Act, including transportation to the school of origin, and are assisted in accessing these services.
● Assist homeless children and youth who do not have immunization or medical records to obtain such records.
● Ensure that unaccompanied youth are enrolled in school immediately even if there is a dispute that may arise over school enrollment or placement.
● Collaborate and coordinate with State Coordinators for Homeless Education and community and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to children and youth in homeless situations.
● State Coordinators and LEAs must educate school personnel, service providers, and advocates who work with families in homeless situations about the duties of the local homeless education liaison.
● Make a new determination of eligibility for services under McKinney-Vento at the start of each school year. A student’s McKinney-Vento identification does not carry over from year to year unless the student continues to experience homelessness.
Under McKinney-Vento legislation, homeless children and youth are individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and includes:
● Children and youth sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing (doubled up), economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, recreational vehicles, or campgrounds; are living in emergency or transitional shelters, are abandoned in hospitals or are awaiting foster care placement
● Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
● Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings; and
● Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.
Students in Homeless Situations Have the Right to:
● Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there.
● Continue in the school they attended before they became homeless.
● Receive transportation to the school they attended before their family became homeless, if possible
● Receive the same programs and services that are provided to all other children
● Automatically qualify for free breakfast and lunch
● Enroll in a new school without immunization, proof of residential status, school records, proof of guardianship or other documents
Policy 3125: Education of Homeless Children
Original Adopted Date: 06/13/2011
Last Revised Date: 06/10/2019
Last Reviewed Date: 06/10/2019
Every child of a homeless individual and every homeless child are entitled to equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to children with permanent housing. The District must assign and admit a child who is homeless to a District school regardless of residence and irrespective of whether the homeless child is able to produce records normally required for enrollment. The District may not require an out-of-District attendance agreement and tuition for a homeless child.
Should a child become homeless over the course of the school year, the child must be able to remain at the school of origin, or be eligible to attend another school in the district.
The Superintendent will review and revise as necessary rules or procedures that may be barriers to enrollment of homeless children and youths. In reviewing and revising such procedures, the Superintendent will consider the issue of transportation, immunization, residence, birth certificates, school records, and other documentation.
Homeless students will have access to services comparable those offered to other students, including but not limited to:
- Transportation Services;
- Educational services for which a student meets eligibility criteria (e.g., Title I);
- Educational programs for children with disabilities and limited English proficiency;
- Programs in vocational and technical education;
- Programs for gifted and talented students; and
- School nutrition program.
The Superintendent will give special attention to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless children and youths not currently attending school. The Superintendent will appoint a liaison for homeless children. A “homeless individual” is defined as provided in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Anyone having a concern or complaint regarding placement or education of a homeless child will first present it orally and informally to the District homeless liaison. To further ensure that the District is removing barriers to the educational access and success of children and youths who are homeless, and to ensure that Title 1 funding is expended in an appropriate manner, the District has adopted the dispute resolution form at Appendix F of Board Policy.
The Belgrade School District has included a housing question on new student enrollment forms. Once the student has been identified as homeless at enrollment, a referral is given to the family liaison who can determine eligibility for McKinney-Vento services through the use of a Determining Eligibility Questionnaire given to the student or guardian either orally or in writing.
Referrals from school personnel are another key component in identifying students who may be homeless.
The Families in Transition Liaison maintains a file of all eligibility questionnaires that indicate homelessness. Questionnaires are not maintained in the student cumulative file.
Identifying Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:
Unaccompanied homeless youth lack fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and are not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian. Unaccompanied youth may be students of any age.
McKinney-Vento Program Procedures:
The McKinney-Vento Act protects the rights of homeless children and youth for the duration of their homelessness. This means students have access to all rights and services from school year to school year if their living circumstance meets the definition of “homeless”.
Once a Belgrade student has been identified as homeless, he/she has access to services for one academic school year. If students experience homelessness beyond one academic school year, all services are still accessible to these students. Students must be re-identified as eligible within 30 days of the start of the school year.
If a student is identified as homeless and becomes permanently housed during the school year, all rights and services remain for the full academic year. This includes the right to remain at the school of origin, request transportation, free meals, etc. Parents may choose to enroll their child in the zoned school for their new residence although decision making should be based on the best interest of the student.
The following school year in which a student is permanently housed, students do not meet the definition of homeless and must enroll in the zoned school for their permanent residence.
The McKinney-Vento Act ensures the immediate enrollment of homeless children and youth even if the students lack records (academic, medical, proof of residency or other documentation). Immediate enrollment includes attending classes and fully participating in school activities. All schools are required to follow these enrollment guidelines when registering a homeless student in school.
Upon enrollment and/or identification of an existing student experiencing homelessness, coding must take place in Infinite Campus. This allows for accurate reporting and is vital to services such as free lunch and transportation.
Many homeless children and youth have disabilities that create additional challenges for educational progress. Educational barriers homeless children and youth with disabilities face include:
● Not being identified as needing special education services;
● Difficulty with diagnosis due to mobility and other stressors;
● Lack of timely assessment, diagnosis, and service provision;
● Lack of continuity of services due to school transfers;
● Lack of timely or efficient records transfer when enrolling in a new school;
● Lack of an available parent or surrogate to represent the child or unaccompanied youth.
Coordination/Compliance with the McKinney-Vento Act:
Evaluations and IEPs
Mobility frequently interrupts the special education services provided under the IEPs of students experiencing homelessness and who have a disability. When student have an established IEP in place but transfer to a new school within the same state, the new school must provide services comparable to those in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents, until the school adopts the IEP, or the school develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP. Due to homeless students’ mobility, time is of the essence in providing them with special education services. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has stated:
“There are compelling reasons for school districts to complete evaluations and eligibility determinations for highly mobile children well within the evaluation time frame that is applicate in a state, and we strongly encourage school districts to complete their evaluations of highly mobile children within expedited time frames (e.g. within 30 days)...”
Who can consent?
1. Their natural or adoptive parent
By definition, unaccompanied homeless youth are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. If an unaccompanied youth’s parent does not respond to the school district’s attempts to make contact regarding special education evaluations or services, the school district must identify or appoint another adult to consent. The same is true if a parent initially communicates with the school district, but later stops responding. The school district must document reasonable attempts to contact the parent. If repeat calls, emails, and letters over the course of a month do not elicit a response from the parent, the district should proceed to the surrogate parent process to avoid delays.
2. An “individual acting in the place of a natural or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives”
Some unaccompanied youth live with informal caregivers who provide the student with shelter. Some of these adults may be involved in the youth’s education and appropriately may be considered a parent under IDEA. These adults may consent for evaluations and services. In other cases, caregivers are not acting in the place of a parent and do not wish to participate in the youth’s education. These adults do not meet IDEA’s definition of a parent.
3. A surrogate parent
Most unaccompanied homeless youth have neither a natural/adoptive parent nor individual acting in the place of a parent to consent for special education evaluations and services. IDEA’s surrogate parent provision for unaccompanied youth helps protect these students’ rights and provide the school district with an appropriate adult with whom to communicate about evaluations and services.
Expedited Procedures Include:
- Attempt to contact an unaccompanied youth’s natural or adoptive parent. The special education team should contact the liaison immediately for guidance and information. If the LEA’s attempts to contact a parent do not elicit a response within 30 days, the LEA should proceed to appointing a temporary surrogate parent, and later a regular surrogate parent.
- Assess whether the youth has an individual acting in the place of a parent. Contact the LEA Homeless Liaison for this information. Speaking directly with the young person about caregiver arrangements also is a best practice.
- Appoint a temporary surrogate for unaccompanied youth. Recommended procedures include:
- Talking with the youth about the process
- Asking the youth to suggest someone appropriate to serve as a temporary surrogate;
- Talking with that candidate to ensure that he/she feels comfortable participating, has a basic understanding of the process, and does not have interests that conflict with those of the youth;
- Expediting the process: Federal regulations require the appointment of surrogate parents within 30 days, while temporary surrogates (may be the LEA Homeless Liaison) should be appointed ideally within 7 days; and
- Developing a pool of surrogate parents trained on the challenges unaccompanied homeless youth face and positive youth development strategies. Retired teachers and professionals working with local homeless youth service programs may be appropriate volunteers.
The McKinney-Vento Act provides students experiencing homelessness with the right to transportation to and from the school of origin for the duration of their homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the students become permanently housed. If the student is attending the school of origin while temporarily residing in a different LEA’s attendance zone, the district of origin and the district of residence may come to an agreement on how to split the excess cost of transportation or split the excess cost 50-50 if no such agreement can be reached. IDEA and Section 504 also include provisions related to the transportation of students based on their need for support to address their disabilities.
Because all three laws require transportation for eligible students, it is important to determine whether the excess cost of transportation is related to homelessness or a special education need. If the excess cost of transportation is related to the student's housing situation, it would be appropriate to use McKinney-Vento funds to cover the excess cost. If the cost of transportation is related to the student’s disability, then it would be appropriate to provide the service under IDEA or Section 504.
Students who are experiencing homelessness qualify for free meals with Food Services through completion of the academic school year.
Determination of McKinney-Vento eligibility may be used in lieu of a Free and Reduced Meal Application.
For up-to-date procedures on how to submit an online application visit:
Working to keep homeless students in school is a key component of the Mckinney-Vento Program. The district provides transportation to and from the school of origins, at the parent or guardian’s request whenever possible. All transportation is provided through the district’s transportation department.
If a student that is experiencing homelessness requests transportation back to their school of origin (over 3 miles), it is important to follow these steps:
- Make sure the current address and phone number is updated in Infinite Campus.
- Ensure that the student is flagged “Mckinney-Vento” in the Infinite Campus
- Fill out a bus form.
- Contact the Family Liaison if gas reimbursement is needed for the temporary period of time it takes to establish a district bus.
If a student that is experiencing homelessness requests transportation back to their school of origin (over 3 miles), but can be driven by a parent or guardian, a transportation Contract can be created to help reimburse the cost of transportation. Contact the Family Liaison to inquire about this possibility.
The Family Liaison is able to provide gas gift cards to help defray the cost of transportation to and from school for families who:
- Live within the 3 mile radius of their school of origin
- For families to transport their child to and from school activities or to attend school functions
- For families who do not have their own transportation, Uber gift cards can be provided on a limited basis and case by case basis.
Students experiencing homelessness often are in need of summer school due to frequent absences from school. The District may provide transportation assistance to and from summer school via bus, transportation contract, or the provision of gas cards.
- Be familiar with the McKinney-Vento Act.
- Recognize the common characteristics of children experiencing homelessness.
- Possible signs of homelessness may include:
- History of attending many schools,
- Erratic attendance and tardiness,
- Consistent lack of preparation for class,
- Sleeping in class,
- Hostility and anger or extremes in behavior (shyness, withdrawal, nervousness, depression),
- Needy behavior (attention seeking,)
- Withdrawn behavior,
- Poor hygiene and grooming,
- Inadequate or inappropriate clothing for the weather,
- Hunger and or hoarding food,
- Resistance to parting with personal possessions (i.e. not wanting to put a coat in the locker).
- Work with breakfast program staff to ensure that children who arrive late to school (due to transportation route) get fed.
- Ensure that homeless students are afforded every opportunity that non-homeless students have
- Assist in the waiving of fees or securing of materials necessary for activities
- With the parent/guardian’s permission, talk to the student’s teachers to inform them of the current living situation and how this may affect the student’s ability to perform academically.
- Advocate for alternative consequences for poor behavior (i.e. don’t withhold recess because it may be the only time the children who are homeless get to play and/or play outdoors.
- Assist students with getting the correct bus when it is first set up.
- Arrange daily or weekly check-in times with the student.
- Communicate with the parents about the student’s performance at school including behavior, attendance, etc.
- Emphasize that education is a vital component for a child’s success and development. Remember, homeless parents are focusing on meeting immediate daily needs for food and shelter; their child’s education may be a secondary concern.
- Build a trusting and safe relationship with homeless students that does not focus on their current living situation.
Know the local community resources so that you may make referrals for such things as food, housing, and counseling.
The child’s classroom may be the only place where the child can experience quiet, interact with students his/her own age, and experience success. School is the most normal activity that most children experience collectively…
For homeless children it is much more than a learning environment. It is a place of safety, personal space, friendships, and support.
Oakley & King, in Promising Practices For Education Homeless Students by Stronge & Reed-Victor, 2000.
● Connect with your district’s Family Liaison to understand the student’s situation.
● Maintain homework/school supply kits. The Homeless Education Liaisons have backpacks and basic school supplies. If you use additional supplies, have some available for homeless students or contact the liaison to make a special request.
● Use tutor/mentors to provide one-on-one support.
● Plan accommodations for homework. Students may not have access to computers, encyclopedias and other tools to complete assignments.
● For students with attendance concerns, connect with your Liaison. This child may qualify for district-provided transportation assistance.
You are the first contact the family may have with Belgrade Public Schools. Be sensitive, patient, calm, and reassuring.
Provide the student and family with confidentiality; take them to a private room to address questions. Have the parent fill out a Determining Eligibility For McKinney-Vento Program form.
Learn to identify possible signs of homelessness:
● Chronic hunger or tiredness
● Erratic attendance in schools
● Attendance in multiple schools
● Poor grooming or clothing that draws attention
● Lock of records, such as birth certificate, immunization record, preschool physical, or incomplete records.
● Low income hotel/motel address on enrollment form.
● Statement from family 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 (or family) until we can find a place.”
Assure families that children can enroll if they are in “housing transition” due to loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason. Enroll the children immediately (even without records) and contact the Family Liaison.
- Be familiar with common characteristics of children and youth who are homeless.
- Welcome the student and the family and let them know that the school is a safe and secure place.
- Make sure the student enrolls in your school’s free meal program. Homeless students are automatically eligible for free school meals.
- Ensure that the student has every opportunity that a non-homeless student has for participation in after-school activities and in-school programs.
- Inform parents about their child’s educational rights.
- Know your attendance.
- Work with the Liaison to ensure transportation assistance to get parents to school for conferences, school events, or other meetings.
- Encourage parents to volunteer. Discuss their interests and offer suggestions that allow them to use their expertise. Many parents will help if invited to do so.
- Support the school staff as they work with the student.
- Meet regularly with the Family Liaison for additional support.
- Look for indicators that a student may be experiencing homelessness and make a referral to the district’s Family Liaison.
- Assist parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth with obtaining required health and medical records and completing health forms.
- Assist them with obtaining medical information from clinics or the state Department of Health.
- Contact the previous school to obtain immunization and health records.
- Assist the family with arranging any needed immunizations for their child.
- Notify the principal, school counselor, and teachers of any serious medical condition of the child or youth.
- Request information from the Family Liaison regarding a referral to a physician or medical clinic for a child or youth who needs medical care.
- If a homeless student is experiencing stress, fatigue, or minor illness, allow the student to rest in the nurse’s office.
- Talk to a parent or guardian about where the child or youth should go if he or she becomes ill and needs to leave school. Homeless shelters often require that families leave during the day and homeless parents may be difficult to contact. Remember that when a homeless student is ill and must be sent home, the place he or she is going may not be stable or quiet.
- Provide hygiene items for homeless children and youth; make arrangements for them to take showers before or after school or wash their clothes in sports laundry facilities if necessary. The Family Liaison can provide basic toiletry supplies.
- Look for indicators that a child or youth may be experiencing homelessness, such as someone who does not have lunch or money to purchase a meal, seems extraordinarily hungry and wants more food than is provided in the regular meal, or begs food from his or her peers, and refer this student to the Family Liaison.
- Build positive relationships with students and listen for indicators that a student may be experiencing homelessness. Make referrals to the Family Liaison.
- Maintain students’ confidentiality regarding their living situation.
- Do not implement practices that stigmatize homeless students or others receiving free meals, such as creating a special line or a different colored ticket.
- Look for indicators that a student may be experiencing homelessness and make a referral to the Family Liaison.
- Look for any signs that other students are teasing or bullying a student who may be experiencing homelessness and intervene or report the students to the teacher or principal.
- Build positive relationships with students:
- Listen for indicators that a student is experiencing hunger, neglect, stress; and make referrals to counselors or family liaison.
- Encourage the student to succeed and stay in school and build hope for the future.
- Look for indicators on the bus route that a student may be experiencing homelessness, and make a referral to the Family Liaison. Note students who:
- Appear at a new bus stop;
- No longer appear at a bus stop without having withdrawn from school;
- Are now being dropped off/picked up by someone at a bus stop when they used to walk;
- Are requesting pickup or drop off at the address of a hotel, motel, or shelter;
- Are showing up at the bus stop inappropriately dressed for the weather; or
- Are showing uncharacteristic behavior problems.
- Build positive relationships with students.
- Listen for indicators that a student is experiencing hunger, neglect, stress; make a referral to the Family Liaison and to school counselors.
- Encourage the student to succeed and stay in school and build hope for the future.
- Listen for instances of teasing and bullying of a homeless student; intervene and report this to the student’s school.
- Maintain a lost and found box and help return lost items to students; possessions are very important to homeless students.
- Inform your student transportation director if the bus route includes pick up or drop off that would enable other students to identify a student as homeless, and request to adjust the route, for example, making a pick up at a shelter or hotel the first stop and drop off the last stop so that other students do not see where a homeless student is staying.
- Assist the student transportation director with creative routes that provide expeditious and economical transportation for homeless students to and from the school of origin.
- Inform the student transportation director of instances where a homeless student has not been at the bus stop arranged for him or her to be transported to and from the school of origin so that the director and local liaison can follow up with the family or youth.
● National Center for Homeless Education; www.serve.org/nche
● National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth; www.naehcy.org
● Montana Office of Public Instruction; https://opi.mt.gov/Leadership/Academic-Success/Federal-Programs/Homeless-Children-Youth
● Family Promise - Emergency shelter, early childhood education, and family resource center
● Haven - Haven provides confidential support, legal advocacy, counseling, and a safe place to stay for anyone and everyone impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking.
● Housing Choice Voucher Program - * Apply to region 6
● HRDC Warming Center -Emergency shelter in Bozeman
● Gallatin Valley Food Bank - Emergency Food Box program; 602 Bond St. Bozeman Hours: Mon-Fri 1-4pm and Tue 1-4pm & 5-7pm. They also have a Pop Up Pantry on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at Peace Lutheran Church on Jackrabbit here in Belgrade
● Fork and Spoon - Pay as you can restaurant and food truck (2x a month in Belgrade)
● Snap- Supplemental Nutrition Program- 1-888-706-1535; For SNAP benefits they consider “people who live together and buy food and prepare meals together” are classified as a household.
Medical and Health Care:
● Belgrade Family Dental - accepts medicaid; 406-388-3005; 103 Jefferson Ave. Belgrade
● Bozeman Medicaid Office - questions about medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids insurance
● Community Health Partners - Or CHP
This is supposed to work like a one stop shop Clinic. They do everything from mental health, teeth and medical, optical as well. They do a sliding scale for fees and will work with you on any aspects that you might need. The Resource Coordinator can assist with resources for food and housing as well. 406-585-1360
● Community Health Partners Dental Clinic - Low Cost/Sliding scale dental care. Walk-In Clinic 7:30-9:30 AM Tuesday-Friday; 1695 Tschache Lane, Bozeman 406-585-1360 *Spanish speaking staff
● Healthy Montana Kids - 1-888-706-1535
● Health care coverage that costs little or nothing at all depending on income levels.
● Panther Clinic - 406-924-2478
Community Health Partners clinic inside the Belgrade Middle School
● River Rock Dental - 406-380-3133 accepts payment in installments; provides discounts; $89 Exam/Cleaning
● Youth Homeless Demonstration Project of MLSA- works with youth under 18 and young adults under 25. Contact Kaia Rosen 406-594-1971 or mtlsa.org/apply-for-services or 1-800-666-6899
Other Community Resources:
● Childcare Connections - 406-587-7786 provides assistance with finding and paying for childcare
● Energy Share Program - 1-888-779-7589
● This program is more of a hand up. It is a private non-profit program that is not tied to the government.
● Greater Impact - a low-cost auto repair shop and rentable space for those who would like to do their own work
● Hardship Grants for Single Mothers - government grants for single mothers
● Journey Church - Benevolence Request - will help with emergency housing and other personal emergencies; very short term
● Love Inc. - Non-profit organization. They can provide household goods and clothing. They recently reopened the Belgrade location on Frontage Road as a Clothes Closet. However they can also do larger home or automotive repairs. There is an application on their website under “receive assistance”.
(406) 587-3008 – (406) 587-6395
● Low income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)- 1-833-317-1080
There is an application online that helps cover expenses of heating - should you need it-
from the months of October through the end of April.
● Montana Navigator Kinship Program - program for grandparents or other family members who are caring for their grandchildren
● Sacks -
This is another clothing and housing store. They do half-priced Saturdays on the first Saturday of every month.
138 W. Mendenhall (Downtown)
● United Way - Dial 2-1-1 for assistance
● Blueprint Continuum
Jeremy Alcoke 406-585-4858
They can help with emergency housing and with navigating other social services such as food and medical benefits.
Has a Scholars with Promise program for youth experiencing homelessness, foster youth, or those living in kinship care to provide training, mentoring, and support for college and vocational school.
● Job Corps - https://www.jobcorps.gov/about Train for a job, complete your high school education in a supportive residential or non-residential program
● Reach Higher Montana
Jodi Heard 406-860-6757
This organization helps you with planning for after high school.
● National Runaway Safeline
This is a hotline where you can call or chat with someone if you are in a crisis and need someone to talk to about it who will listen and help.
● Panther Clinic
406-924-2478 (open Mon/Wed/Fri 8am-5pm)
A medical clinic inside the Middle School where you can go to get non-emergency healthcare.