In the last two Tips for Homeless People blogs, I covered 10 tips to help you navigate through the Department of Human Services based on my experiences in more than one state, and more than one jurisdiction in each state. I have communicated with people who have received help, and had challenges, and my hope is to help you so that you have one less thing to be stressed about.
In this article, let’s talk about your Homeless status. Did you know that there was a such thing? I sure didn’t. I was very reluctant to put this on any paper however, it has proven to be the best decision that I have made throughout this entire process.
If you have children, you should go to your school and discreetly ask your counselor, or the school social worker whichever you trust to give you the paperwork necessary (if any) to notify the school system of your homeless status. One of the worst things in the world is having to go through major transitions with your children. Although we are quick to refer to their resilience, they can be affected by constant change. When they get used to one school, moving them to every school district that you sleep in until you are no longer homeless is ridiculous. They will learn nothing and they will become emotionally unstable. So the school system has a status that helps you to allow your child to legally continue their education at the school that you choose whether it is the one that they currently attend, or one that is central to work, or where you will be staying etc…
In the State of Maryland, or at least I know in Prince George’s County a homeless student can be picked up by a school bus wherever they are and brought to school. It is a special service only available for people who are homeless, registered with this status.
Another benefit of the homeless status is that your child is immediately admitted to school regardless of paperwork. It is the law that your child cannot be denied services in school if they are homeless. All school sponsored trips are required to be paid for. They are legally not allowed to miss out on field trips and other important school related activities because of financial hardship. But, it does not apply to students who are not registered with a homeless status. You can check your child’s school to find out what the county, or city says about its program but many of these laws were federally put in place to make sure that regardless of what you as parents may go through financially, your child does not miss out on their education or social opportunities.
A very quick and real example is that a homeless person may not have money to purchase school uniforms, or by school supplies, books required by teachers, pay for field trip outings as I mentioned earlier, or even by gym locks. As a homeless student, it ensures that your child walks, talks, and looks like every child in the building.
For your child’s safety and peace of mind it is important to make sure that you do NOT share that you are homeless with the teachers and insist that the counselors do not disclose this information either. There have been teachers and counselors who have embarrassed students in front of their peers by disclosing this information but please know that it is illegal and you can have them written up and terminated for putting your child in that situation.
I do not need to tell you how cruel children are. I would also advise that if you have never been an involved parent, now is the time. You may or may not volunteer your time at the school in your child’s classroom or in the front office but you need to make sure that you keep influence with your child, and that you build relationship at school.
It is the difference between your business being confidential and it being the talk of the teacher’s lounge. Some teachers may get offended at my thoughts on this, but it’s true I have enough evidence to speak on it freely in general.
Being involved in your child’s education has other rewards as well. When you are close to your child’s teachers they are open to communicating with you about your child’s challenges and progresses. You can catch things before they get out of hand. If you are homeless the last thing you need is to have your child to become a problem academically or behaviorally in school.
Together, you and the school can work together to make sure that your child is whole and grounded, in some instances they make have some ways of helping you to deal with your situation. Generally, teachers or counselors that you work with who have a heart for you and your child will not run to Child Protective Services.
Lastly, be confident. You are still in charge even though you don’t feel like. Remember that you are a powerful amazing person, even though it does not look like it. Your child is watching you, even when you don’t think they are. Your child sees you with your hair down all of the time. When you begin to give up so do they. If you change your routine, so do they. Be strong, and depend on God. You can not do this yourself, and why would you want to.
You will win. Stay in the fight, black eyes and all. Stay Tuned for the last part of this series where I will give tips for locating Subsidized Housing. This is great for everyone regardless of your situation. Please remember to pass this information on if you find it helpful in anyway.
- Yerevan’s Homeless To Celebrate New Year in Temporary Shelters (ditord.com)
- Is this what we have come to with Housing for the Homeless? (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Is this what you tell a pan-handler when you see them on the streets? What’s up with that? (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)