If your family lives in any of the following situations:
- In an emergency or transitional shelter, motel, vehicle, or campground
- On the street
- In an abandoned building, trailer, or other inadequate accommodations, or
- Doubled up with friends or relatives because you cannot find or afford housing
- Living in a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Abandoned in hospitals
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- Children living in a trailer that does not have accommodations for all the people living there
- Children living with relatives or friends while parents are incarcerated or in the hospital
- Unaccompanied youth who are not living with their parents
- Migratory children who live in any of the circumstances described above
Then, your preschool-aged and school-aged children have certain rights or protections under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.
- Go to school, no matter where you live or how long you have lived there. They must be given access to the same public education, including preschool education, provided to other children.
- Continue in the school they attended before you became homeless or the school they last attended, if that is your choice and is feasible. If a school sends your child to a school other than the one you request, the school must provide you with a written explanation and offer you the right to appeal the decision.
- Receive transportation to the school they attended before your family became homeless or the school they last attended, if you, or a guardian, request such transportation.
- Attend a school and participate in school programs with children who are not homeless. Children cannot be separated from the regular school program because they are homeless.
- Enroll in school without giving a permanent address. Schools cannot require proof of residency that might prevent or delay school enrollment.
- Enroll and attend classes while the school arranges for the transfer of school and immunization records or any other documents required for enrollment.
- Enroll and attend classes in the school of your choice even while the school and you seek to resolve a dispute over enrolling your children.
- Receive the same special programs and services, if needed, as provided to all other children served in these programs.
- Receive transportation to school and to school programs.
- Contact the school district’s local liaison for homeless education (see phone number below) for help in enrolling your child in a new school or arranging for your child to continue in his or her former school. (Or, someone at a shelter, social services office, or the school can direct you to the person you need to contact.)
- Contact the school and provide any information you think will assist the teachers in helping your child adjust to new circumstances.
- Ask the local liaison for homeless education, the shelter provider, or a social worker for assistance with clothing and supplies, if needed.
Foster Care Liaison
Senate Bill 291, enacted in 2009, created sections 167.018 and 167.019 RSMo, otherwise known as the “Foster Care Education Bill of Rights.”
These laws require public school districts and child-placing agencies to ensure that foster children do not fall through the cracks when it comes to receiving an education.
Section 168.018, RSMo, requires each school district to designate a staff member as the educational liaison for children in foster care. In the Cowgill R-VI School District, the educational liaison for foster care children is Betty Vassmer, (660)255-4415.
Acting in an advisory capacity, the educational liaison is required to:
- Ensure and facilitate the proper educational placement, enrollment in school and checkout from school of foster children;
- Assist foster care students when transferring from one school or district to another, by ensuring proper transfer of credits, records and grades;
- Request school records of a foster care student pursuant to section 167.022, within two business days of a foster care student’s placement in a school; and
- Submit school records of foster care students within three business days of receiving a request for a foster care student’s records.
Section 167.019, RSMo, requires a child-placing agency, as defined in section 210.481, RSMo, to promote the educational stability of foster children.
The child-placing agency must take into consideration the foster child’s school attendance area when placing the child. This section further defines the right of foster children in regard to their continuing education:
- A foster child has the right to remain enrolled in and attend his or her school of origin or to return to a previously attended school in an adjacent district.
- The school district shall accept for credit full or partial course work satisfactorily completed by a foster care student while attending a public school, non-public school, or non-sectarian school in accordance with district policy or procedure.
- A foster care student’s school district of residence shall issue a diploma to a foster care student under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court providing the student completes the district’s graduation requirements.
- A school district shall ensure that if a foster care student is absent from school because of a change in placement made by a court or child placing agency, or because of a verified court-appearance or court-ordered activity, the grades and credits of the foster care student shall be calculated as of the date the student left school, and the student’s grades shall not be lowered as a consequence of the absence.
- Subject to federal law, school districts shall permit access of foster care student records to any child placing agency for the purpose of fulfilling educational case management responsibilities required by a juvenile officer or by law and to assist with the school transfer and placement of a student.