Homeless Education Assistance Resource Team (H.E.A.R.T.)
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 2001 was amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. These very important federal laws protect the educational rights of students (PreK-12) who have lost housing and are living in transition. The ultimate goal is to remove barriers that might prevent students experiencing homelessness from enrolling, attending and succeeding in school.
Students living in transition (whether residing with a parent, legal guardian or unaccompanied children and youth) are those who lack a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence. This includes sharing the housing of other persons “doubled-up” due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar situation; living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; living in emergency or transitional shelters; abandoned in hospitals; living in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings. Migratory children and youth living in circumstances described above also qualify for McKinney-Vento Homeless Education services.
WHAT ASSISTANCE DOES H.E.A.R.T. PROVIDE?
- Transportation coordination for students to remain in their School of Origin (school last attended)
- Access to school supplies and uniform items
- Free school meals
- Referrals to school and community-based services (e.g. School Social Work Services, Family Counseling, Medical, Dental and Mental Health referrals etc.)
- Assistance with retrieving immunization records and state of Florida birth certificates
- Limited access to after school care services (K-8th)
- Limited summer camp opportunities
- Cap and gown rentals at no cost to graduating high school students
- Verification letters needed to apply for college and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Presentations to community agencies and civic groups
Did You Know?
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Statistics
Total number of students enrolled in the BCPS during the 2015-2016 school year was 268,836. Of those students, 2254 were identified as homeless as follows:
- 512 (23%) resided in shelters
- 1442 (64%) were doubled-up (sharing the housing of others due to economic necessity)
- 53 (2.3%) resided in a car, park, campground, bus or other public place
- 231 (10%) resided in a hotel or motel
- 16 (.7%) were awaiting foster care placement
Of the 2254 students identified as homeless, they attended school at the following levels: 2% Pre-School; 52% Elementary School; 18% Middle School and 28% High School. Of the total number of students experiencing homelessness, 431 (19%) were unaccompanied homeless children and youth meaning they did not reside with a parent or legal guardian.
(Source: Florida Department of Education - 15-16 Survey 5 Federal State Indicator format matched to Student Demographics)
While official counts are pending, during SY16-17, 2746 students were identified as experiencing homelessness; a 22% increase over SY15-16.