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Hurricane Katrina left more than 1 million people homeless, including over 250,000 school children. The number of child refuges is likely to climb as we hear from more small, rural school systems in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. (Source: NPR article on returning children to school)

As families leave devastated areas, many will disperse to friends’ and relatives’ homes across the country. These people are not self sufficient anymore. They are stunned and helpless, not ready to start their lives over in a new city with a water bottle and a few vouchers for food.

As attorney Mike O'Connor points out in
Education Rights of Homeless Children, "For children who have been traumatized by the loss of home, friends, and perhaps death or injury of family members, returning to school is not only important for educational purposes; attendance at a school becomes an oasis of normalcy for them."

Legal Information

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the federal law that governs the education of homeless children. This law provides many rights to homeless children and their families, and many responsibilities to school districts. (Wrightslaw reformatted the law so it is easy to read, print, and distribute to schools, social service agencies, shelters, and child advocates who are responsible for homeless children)

Education Rights of Homeless Children - Attorney Mike O'Connor summarizes the basic education rights of all homeless children and the rights of children with disabilities. The article includes websites that offer more detailed information.

Homelessness and Students with Disabilities: Educational Rights and Challenges published by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education.

State Coordinators for Homeless Education - Every state is required by federal law to have a State Coordinator for Homeless Education. This person is responsible for ensuring the understanding of and compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in public schools throughout the state.

National Center for Homeless Education - The Center provides research, resources, and information enabling communities to address the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Saving Lives: Including People with Disablilities in Emergency Planning - The National Council on Disability (NCD) issued this report in April, and recommended immediate changes in emergency planning for people with disabilities.

Homeless Education Online Forum - A service of the National Center for Homeless Education

McKinney-Vento Online Training Presentations - PowerPoint Presentation, sample letters, and many PDF information handouts for administrators and community workers

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Organizations

National Association for Education of Homeless Children & Youth - a national grassroots membership association, serves as the voice and the social conscience for the education of children and youth in homeless situations; connects educators, parents, advocates, researchers and service providers to ensure school enrollment and attendance for children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by the lack of safe, permanent and adequate housing.

National Center for Homeless Education (funded by U.S. Department of Education) - provides research, resources, and information to address the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

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Funds and Grants for Educating Homeless Children

Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program - Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 Non-Regulatory Guidance, July 2004

Updated Guidance for Homeless Children in the School Nutrition Programs - U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Specifically for Survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Ways to Help in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - This is an incredibly comprehensive database of information for survivors of Hurricane Katrina and for those who want to help from Meredith Warshaw of the Uniquely Gifted site. Ways to Help includes links to disaster relief information - how to register with FEMA, information on finding loved ones, housing, donations, how to volunteer, schooling & homeschooling, and animal rescue. There is also section with Houston-specific information. Read Meredith's Tips about Donating

Katrina Disaster Relief: Information for People with Disabilities and People Who Want to Help Them - Information about people who are donating space in their accessible homes, people who need accessible homes; how to donate time, durable medical equipment, disposable goods; more.

Health Care Professionals - The Office of The Surgeon General and the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness are mobilizing healthcare professionals and relief personnel to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. If you have expertise as a health care professional, please go to https://volunteer.hhs.gov or call toll-free number 1-866-KAT MEDI to volunteer.

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Local Support Systems for Community Members

Salvation Army

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities

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Last updated: 09/25/08


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