Families In Need (FIN)
What is the Families In Need (FIN) Program?
The Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) homeless and foster care education program, Families in Need, authorized under Federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act, provides services to ensure identified homeless children and youth as well as students in foster care have access to a free and appropriate public education by removing educational barriers due to homelessness, poverty and/or abuse.
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
- Director of Student Support Services, Amy Elwood
- FIN Homeless Liaisons, Jania Fuller, MSW and Jillian Finkelstein, 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
Who is considered in foster care?
- Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a child or youth who has been removed from their home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment by the Department of Children and Families is considered in foster care.
What educational rights are guaranteed to homeless children, youth and students in foster care?
The McKinney-Vento Act defines the educational rights of homeless children and youth 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 zoned school for where they currently reside, or the last school in which they were enrolled (school of origin) prior to becoming homeless or being placed in foster care.
- 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?
400 East Lake Mary Blvd,
Sanford, FL 32773