Every homeless child and youth attending the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”), including its charter schools, shall have equal access to the same free, appropriate education and programs as is provided to other children and youth. No homeless child or youth shall be discriminated against, segregated from the mainstream school population, isolated on the basis of his/her homelessness or stigmatized.
This commitment to the educational rights of homeless children and youth applies to all services, programs and activities provided or made available by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (“Board”), including but not limited to free and reduced lunch programs, school fee waivers, before and after school programs, pre-school programs, school supplies, including uniforms, and academic support, including tutoring beyond that offered to all students attending the school. Students experiencing homelessness can apply to charter schools, selective enrollment schools, magnet schools, and all other CPS programs in the same manner as students who are permanently housed.
All Board employees are expected to treat children, youth and their families who are experiencing homelessness with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
“Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS)” is the name of the Board’s department that services children and youths enrolled in a CPS school and are experiencing homelessness. The Board’s STLS program offers assistance to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their families. The goal of the STLS program is to protect the educational rights of students in temporary living situations and to provide services to students and their families. The staff in the Board’s STLS Department also addresses barriers to enrollment, transportation, attendance, retention and success for students in temporary living situations. If you are in need of STLS assistance, please call (773) 553-2242, or fax at (773) 553-2182 or email at STLSInformation@cps.edu.
“Homeless child or youth” or “student in a temporary living situation” includes but is not limited to any of the following:
- Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and includes children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason (referred to as “doubled-up”); are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement.
- Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a private or public place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
- Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings.
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described in any of the above situations.
“Unaccompanied Youth” includes a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, which includes but is not limited to youth who are run-aways, locked-out, neglected, and/or discharged after a stay in juvenile detention but not to the care of an adult.
“School of Origin” is the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled. A child or youth in a temporary living situation has the right to attend his/her school of origin for as long as he/she remains in a temporary living situation, as defined above, or if the student becomes permanently housed, until the end of the academic year.
“Enrollment” means enrolled into the school, attending classes and participating fully in school activities.
Immediate school enrollment: All schools must immediately enroll students in temporary living situations even if the student lacks health, immunization or school records, proof of guardianship, proof of residency, or any other documentation normally required for school enrollment. Students in a temporary living situation can enroll without an adult present. The student in a temporary living situation is entitled to enroll in either (1) his/her school of origin or (2) any school that non-homeless students who live in the attendance area in which the child or youth is actually living are eligible to attend. Parents and students have the right to make any of the above enrollment choices. No Board employee should discourage a student from attending his/her school of origin, and each Board employee should do his/her utmost to support the student in his/her school of origin. STLS Initiation Form
Transportation: If parents/caregivers choose to continue their child’s education in the school of origin, the Board will provide transportation to and from the school of origin, and to all school-related activities, as long as the child or youth is in a temporary living situation, or if the student becomes permanently housed, until the end of the academic year. Students who temporarily reside outside of Chicago due to homelessness and attend their CPS school of origin receive transportation assistance as do students experiencing homelessness who live in the City of Chicago but attend a school of origin outside of CPS. Information on Transportation Asssistance
School Fees: School-related fees are to be waived for all students enrolled in the STLS program.
Tutoring: Students in temporary living situations qualify for after-school tutoring, beyond that offered to other students.
Other Services: Students who qualify for the STLS program may also receive free uniforms, free school supplies, free school meals, and low-cost or free medical referrals.
Guidelines regarding students in a temporary living situation:
Here are a few additional resources for students experiencing homelessness.
Community Assistance for LGBTQ Homeless Youth
Homeless Youths Resource Guide
Homeless Families Resource Guide
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless – offers legal assistance and advocacy to homeless families and unaccompanied youth.
Chicago HOPES – offers after school homework assistance to students living in shelters.
City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services –works to promote the independence and well-being of individuals, support families and strengthen neighborhoods by providing direct assistance and administering resources to a network of community-based organizations, social service providers and institutions.
Chicago Central Referral System Assessment Tool – If you are homeless or living in shelter, you can apply for housing on the CRS. The housing available on the website includes permanent supportive housing and permanent housing with short-term supports.
Greater Chicago Food Depository – go to this site to search by zip code and find location and hours of operation of food pantries in Chicago.
National Runaway Safeline – has resources and information for students who are thinking about or have run away from home.
NAEHCY Higher Education Helpline – For assistance with issues related to students experiencing homelessness accessing higher education, contact the NAEHCY Higher Education Helpline at 1 (855) 446-2673 (toll-free) firstname.lastname@example.org.