Families In Need (FIN)

What is the Families In Need (FIN) Program?

Families In Need Program

Authorized under Federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, the Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) homeless education program, Families In Need, provides services to ensure identified homeless children and youth have access to a free and appropriate public education by removing educational barriers due to homelessness.

Who Operates the SCPS FIN Program?

The FIN program is administered through Exceptional Student Support Services (ESSS). The FIN Program staff includes:

  • ESSS Executive Director, Dr. Michelle Walsh
  • ESSS District Administrator, Amy Elwood
  • FIN Homeless Liaisons, Jania Fuller, MSW and Amber DeMorse, MSW

In addition, each SCPS school has an assigned School Social Worker and a FIN advocate.

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 qualify for the homeless education program?

Families and unaccompanied youth reporting homelessness should complete a SCPS Residency Questionnaire and provide to the school. Children and youth living in the following circumstances are determined eligible:

  • Temporarily living in shelters, parks, vehicles, and other public places
  • Temporarily sharing housing due to a loss of housing or economic hardship
  • Pay by the day/week motel due to an inability to afford regular housing
  • Children of migrant workers whose 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

What educational rights are guaranteed to homeless children and youth?

The McKinney-Vento Act defines the educational rights of homeless children andyouth and the responsibilities of the Seminole County Public Schools district. If determined eligible, under the McKinney-Vento Act, students have the following rights:

  • Equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as housed students
  • Attendance at either the last school in which they were enrolled (school of origin) prior to becoming homeless or the zoned school for where they currently reside
  • Immediate enrollment in school, with a temporary waiver for the required documents, such as immunization records and proof of a physical
  • Free school breakfast and lunch, regardless of income
  • Transportation assistance to school of origin
  • FIN Liaisons provide the following services:
    • Determine FIN program eligibility and complete FIN Needs Assessment
    • Provide resources to eliminate educational barriers (school supplies, hygiene products, clothing/shoes, etc.)
    • Collaborate with other SCPS student support programs (tutoring, 21st century community learning center programs, food services, etc.)
    • Refer to community agency partners based on FIN Needs Assessment
    • Educate parents and students on McKinney Vento Act educational rights
    • Provide case management to Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

How can I donate?

Donations to the FIN program can be made through The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools.  To donate, click here.

SCPS Resource Guide for Families in Need

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Families In Need Program

400 East Lake Mary Blvd,
Sanford, FL 32773
Office 407.320.0255
Fax 407.320.0294