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Educating Homeless Children

Hurricane Katrina left more than 1 million people homeless, including over 200,000 school age children.

More than
136,000 children from New Orleans and 35,000 children from six counties in Mississippi will not go back to their schools any time soon because the schools were totally or partially destroyed. 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 the most 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 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." In this article, Mr. 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.


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.

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

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

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 all kinds of 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 or call toll-free number 1-866-KAT MEDI to volunteer.

Local Support Systems for Community Members

Salvation Army

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities

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