Connecting with homeless students is critical as students return to school

By Patricia Nix-Hodes, Director of the Law Project

This week marks the start of the 2021-22 school year in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Many suburban school districts have already returned. This year, it will be more important than ever for schools to identify and support students experiencing homelessness.

The pandemic has resulted in a decrease of more than 34% in the number of CPS students identified as homeless since the 2018-19 school year. When students are not identified, they miss out on services that help them succeed in school.  

As always, the Law Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will offer free legal aid and advice to city and suburban families and students experiencing homelessness if they encounter issues upon their return to school. All households in unstable living situations are recognized as homeless, including those living in shelters or doubled-up in someone else’s home. 

Common issues include being allowed to remain in the original school attended before becoming homeless, being allowed to enroll in the school nearest where you now live, or being recognized as homeless and entitled to transportation assistance. 

For help or information, call the Law Project at 1 (800) 940-1119 during weekday office hours, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

The staff of the Law Project participated in outreach this summer at a back-to-school fairs throughout the city and suburbs, as well as distributing information to communities that were having virtual back-to-school events. In addition, the Law Project, along with our partners at The Night Ministry and the Lyte Collective, trained approximately 800 CPS homeless liaisons and school clerks.