With the recent change from CPS’s Homeless Education Program to Students in Temporary Living Situations Program, there is still some confusion as to who qualifies, and what type of services they are entitled to.

“There have been people who are surprised to learn that what we called ‘doubled-up’ qualifies, and that people who were taking care of a child but didn’t have permanent guardianship could receive services too,” said Julie Yerganian, who works with the Students in Temporary Living Situations Program support team. “I think definitely getting that word out is important, I don’t think it’s completely understood.”

According to the federal McKinney-Vento Act, Chicago students who qualify for the program are defined as:

1. Homeless children and youth means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes: Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement.

2. Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

3. Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.

4. Migratory children (as defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended) who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described in this definition.

5. Enroll and enrollment include attending classes and participating fully in school activities.

6. Unaccompanied youth includes a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

For students who qualify for the program, there are a multitude of resources available.

First, the student is allowed to stay in the same school for as long as the child remains homeless, even if his or her family is forced to move to another part of the city.

Transportation will be provided for the student, free of charge, to make sure he or she can get to this school from their new home.

Other transportation services include CTA transit cards and transfer fares for both parents and students. If the child is 12 years of age or older, they could qualify for their own CTA riding permit.

After school tutoring is also provided for program students who request it. This is a service, Yerganian said, that many parents don’t realize is available. Parents of students in temporary living situations are able to contact their student’s teacher to arrange for one-on-one tutoring sessions.

Upon entrance into the program, students will be given forms for free uniforms, reduced fair or free lunches or any other services the school deems necessary.

The Program Support team encourages anyone who thinks their child may be eligible for the program to call 773-553-2242.

Lauren Chooljian
Medill News Service