What is the Students in Transition Program?
Authorized under Federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, the Students In Transition Program (S.I.T.) provides services to ensure identified homeless children and youth have access to a free and appropriate public education by removing barriers due to homelessness.
Who Operates the Students in Transition Program?
The S.I.T. program is administered through Student Services. The S.I.T. Team includes a designated Homeless Liaison, Social Worker, and Data Entry Operator. In addition, each school has a designated Homeless Advocate who assists their school with implementing federal law and district policy requirements relating to the education of homeless children and youth.
What education rights are guaranteed to homeless children and youth?
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that defines the education rights of homeless children and youth and the responsibilities of Local Education Agencies (LEAs). If you qualify as homeless, you have the following rights under the McKinney-Vento Act:
Right to equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as housed students.
Right to attend either the last school in which you were enrolled (school of origin) prior to being homeless or the zoned school for where you are currently residing.
Right to immediately enroll in school, even if you are missing required documents, such as immunization records and proof of a physical.
Right to free meals, regardless of income.
Right to request transportation assistance to school of origin.
Right to have requirement of residency documents temporarily waived (the S.I.T. team will work with you to obtain required documents while student attends school).
Who is considered homeless?
Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, a child or youth is considered homeless if he or she lacks a fixed, adequate, or regular nighttime residence.
Fixed - is a stationary and permanent building or structure
Regular - is a dependable place to stay and used on a regular basis
Adequate - meets the physical and psychological needs of the child or youth
What living situations may qualify for homeless education benefits?
Living situations may be complicated, therefore families and unaccompanied youth reporting homelessness should complete a domicile form/residency questionnaire at any school site and contact S.I.T. who will determine eligibility. Children and youth living in the following circumstances will likely be eligible for rights under homeless status and services through S.I.T.:
Temporarily living in shelters, parks, vehicles, and other public places.
Temporarily sharing the housing of others due to a loss of housing or economic hardship.
Staying in a pay by the day/week motel due to an inability to afford regular housing.
Children of migrant workers whose nighttime residence is not fixed, regular or adequate.
Unaccompanied youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and lack a fixed, adequate or regular nighttime residence.
Children and youth who are awaiting foster care placement and have been removed from their homes by child welfare officials due to suspected abuse or neglect.
What living situations would not qualify for homeless education benefits?
Living situations that are not considered homeless under the Act include:
Families sharing adequate housing due to cultural preferences or convenience.
Families sharing housing by choice or are now in regular housing with the host family.
Youth who are incarcerated, attending private schools, or treatment facilities.
Other living situations that are “fixed, regular, and adequate".
How are qualified homeless students identified?
Homeless students and families are often reluctant to admit to homelessness. Therefore, LEA’s are required to seek out and identify homeless children and youth. To this end, the S.I.T. Team works with community agencies to identify and enroll homeless children and youth. The S.I.T. Team ensures that school based staff follow district procedures to identify enrolled students who become homeless. Homeless children and youth are also identified when they enroll in school.
How do I apply for homeless education benefits?
The youth, parent, or guardian completes a Domicile/Student Residency Questionnaire form (English / Spanish). You may get the form by clicking on your preferred language, in an enrollment packet at any school site, or by requesting this form from school-based staff. Submit the form to the front office at any school site that will fax the form to the S.I.T. Office. Once received, the S.I.T. Team will determine eligibility and if eligible will designate statue in the district database and send a memo to district Food and Nutrition services authorizing students participation in the free meal program.
Can my child attend school while awaiting the S.I.T. Team’s decision?
Yes. A child or youth has the right to immediately enroll in school, even if missing required documentation. The school and the S.I.T. office will assist you with obtaining the required documentation.
Can my child attend the school he or she attended before we became homeless?
Homeless students may want to attend the school of origin rather than attend the current zoned school. In this case, school staff will refer the youth or family’s request to the S.I.T. Office. The S.I.T. Team will consult with the parent, unaccompanied youth and school-based staff to determine the school placement choice that is in the best interest of the child/youth. The following factors will be considered:
The desire of the parent or unaccompanied youth
Safety issues related to travel or school placement
Anticipated length of stay at current location
The commuting distance and likely impact on student's education
Age of the child and the child’s need for specialized instruction, if indicated.
Is transportation provided to the school of origin?
If the S.I.T. Team approves continued placement at the student’s school of origin, the youth or family has the right to request transportation to the school of origin. The S.I.T. team will submit a request to the Transportation Department. Once approved, the S.I.T. Team will notify relevant school staff, parent or unaccompanied youth of route information. In the event of a denial the S.I.T. team will notify the parent or unaccompanied youth of determination and appeal process.
What other services does the S.I.T. team provide to homeless students?
The S.I.T. Team works to ensure that homeless students receive the services to which they are entitled such as immediate school enrollment, assistance with transportation to school of origin and free meals.
Does the S.I.T. office provide services to families of homeless students?
Yes. Families of homeless students receive a comprehensive resource packet that includes information detailing how to contact agencies within the community for assistance with basic needs. S.I.T. has a stock of hygiene items and emergency clothing available to homeless students so that they may attend school. In addition, S.I.T. staff is available to assist with school placement decisions and school enrollment disputes.
What if my family or I disagree with a S.I.T. Team decision?
If you or your family does not agree with a S.I.T. Team decision, you may appeal by following the Dispute Resolution Procedure.
Where can I learn more about the McKinney-Vento Act and County resources?
Click on any of the following to learn more:
Where can I find school board policies related to homeless students?
You can read the school board policies regarding homeless students on our NEOLA School Board Policies Site. Specific information regarding homeless students can be found in Section 5111.01, which can be found at http://www.neola.com/pasco-fl/search/policies/po5111.01.htm.
Who do I contact with questions about the S.I.T. Program?
Ask your local school who the Homeless Advocate is or contact S.I.T. directly. Students In Transition Program 5334 Parkway Blvd. Land O Lakes, FL 34639 813-794-4980 / 727-774-4980 / 352-524-4980 Fax 813-794-4987 / 727-774-4987 / 352-524-4987