There are currently 53 scholars at Hiawatha Academies who we have identified as being homeless or highly-mobile (sometimes called “migrant”).

Homelessness doesn’t always present itself how you would expect. A family is considered homeless if they live:

  • In shelters or transitional housing programs
  • In motels, hotels or weekly-rate housing
  • Doubled up with friends or relatives because they cannot find or afford housing
  • In an abandoned building, a public space, a car or other similar accommodation
  • Awaiting foster care placement

Homeless scholars have certain rights, as guaranteed by the McKinney-Vento Act. These rights include:

  • Enrolling in a school immediately, even if the scholar can’t access the required records (there are some exceptions for charter schools)
  • Receive transportation to school even if they move outside of the transportation zone
  • Receive breakfast, lunch and snacks at no cost
  • Participate in the same academic and enrichment programs as other scholars

Homeless children are incredibly resilient. While children who are experiencing homelessness also are are much more likely than their peers to have a learning disability, become ill, go hungry or have obesity (due to nutritional deficiencies), we can capitalize on their strengths to address some of the risk factors. We can help support every child to be college ready in the following ways:

  • Ensure that scholars have school supplies, or help them get the supplies they need
  • Provide a time and space for scholars to complete homework and school projects
  • Be flexible in how you approach tardiness, homework completion and uniform standards
  • Provide a quiet place for scholars to sleep or rest since it can be difficult to sleep at shelters, and transitions may be emotionally and physically draining.
  • Be creative in your approach to meeting with families by doing home visits or meeting at a coffee shop near the shelter. It may be difficult for parents/guardians to come to the school building because of lack of reliable transportation and strict rules about children being left alone at homeless shelters.

If you have any questions, please contact your school’s social worker or Candace at cburckhardt@hiawathaacademies.org.