Families in Transition Program (FIT)
MCSD Families in Transition Program
The FIT Program strives to provide successful educational experiences for children and youth living with unstable housing in Martin County. By collaborating with parents, families, schools and community agencies, removing barriers, and promoting a healthy sense of self, our students look toward the future with pride.
Meeting the Law
The Martin County School District Families in Transition (FIT) Program is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under this program, federal, state and local educational agencies must ensure that each homeless child and youth have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as other children and youth.
Homeless children and youth must have access to the educational and other services that they need to enable them to meet the same challenging State student academic achievement standards to which all students are held. In addition, homeless students may not be separated from the mainstream school environment. (McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth)
- The FIT (Families in Transition) Program assists with the identification, enrollment, attendance and academic support of students living in unstable housing.
- Each school has a designated FIT Program Site Liaison to help identify students living in unstable housing, as well as work with other district staff and community members on services for students.
- Upon enrollment into FIT Martin County, students will be provided with breakfast and lunch. Students can request transportation through the FIT Program if they live over two miles from the School of Origin, (the school the student was attending when he/she had stable housing).
Martin County District Policy
5111.01 - HOMELESS STUDENTS
For purposes of this policy, pursuant to Federal and State law, homeless children and youth are defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and include those who meet any of the following criteria:
- A. share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason;
- B. live in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
- C. live in emergency or transitional shelters;
- E. 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; or
- F. live in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or similar setting.
Additionally, pursuant to Federal and State law, children or youth who are experiencing homelessness also include migratory children who are living in circumstances described in A-F above.
It is the policy of the School Board that homeless students are afforded the same free appropriate public education as provided to other students and have access to the educational and other services that they need so that they have the opportunity to meet the same challenging Florida academic achievement standards to which all students are held. Homeless preschool-aged children and their families shall have access to the educational services for which they are eligible, including preschool programs administered by the School District.
Homeless students will not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. The District shall establish safeguards that protect homeless students from discrimination on the basis of their homelessness.
The District shall remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless students in schools in the District. Homeless students shall be enrolled immediately, even if they do not have the necessary enrollment documentation such as immunization and health records, proof of residency or guardianship, birth certificate, school records, and other documentation.
Further, the Homeless Liaison will assist, to the extent feasible, the homeless students and their parent(s)/guardian(s) or unaccompanied homeless students in their efforts to provide documentation to meet State and local requirements for entry into school. No School Board policy, administrative procedure, or practice will be interpreted or applied in such a way as to inhibit the enrollment, attendance, or school success of homeless children.
The District will keep homeless students in the school of origin, that is, the school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed or last enrolled, or will be assigned to the school serving the grade in which the student will be placed in the attendance zone where the child or youth currently resides.
Homeless students will be provided services comparable to other students in the District including:
- A. transportation services;
- B. educational services for which the homeless student meets eligibility criteria including services provided under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or similar State and local programs, educational programs for children with disabilities and gifted students, and educational programs for students with limited English proficiency;
- C. programs in vocational and technical education;
- D. school nutrition programs; and
- E. before- and after-school programs.
The School Board recognizes that homeless students have the right to remain in their school of origin and the right to dispute their school assignment, if their assignment is other than their school of origin. The School Board requires that these rights and the dispute process be communicated to the parent or guardian of the homeless student or unaccompanied youth. According to the child's or youth's best interest, a homeless student will either remain in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness, or be enrolled in the school in the attendance zone where the student currently resides. The school of origin is the school that student attended when permanently housed or last enrolled.
In determining the best interest of the student, the District shall, to the extent feasible, keep the student in the school of origin, except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the homeless student's parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth. If the student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or a school requested by the parent/guardian, a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, will be provided to the homeless student's parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth. Each school in the District shall post public notice of educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
At the request of the parent/guardian, or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, or the local Homeless Liaison, transportation shall be provided for a homeless student to and from the school of origin as follows:
- A. If the homeless student continues to live in the School District in which the school of origin is located, transportation will be provided.
- B. If the homeless student moves to an area served by another district, though continuing his/her education at the school of origin, the district of origin and the district in which the student resides must agree upon a method to apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin. If the districts cannot agree upon such a method, the responsibility and costs must be shared equally.
The Superintendent will appoint a Liaison for Homeless Children who will perform the duties as required by law, as well as additional duties that may be assigned by the Superintendent. Additionally, the Liaison will coordinate and collaborate with the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth as well as with community and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to homeless children and youth.
42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.
© Neola 2010
FIT Program Student Eligibility And Resources
FIT Program Student Eligibility:
FIT Martin County services are available to students enrolled in the Martin County School District from Head Start through 12th grade who are experiencing unstable housing. Any student, who lacks fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, as defined by the Stewart B.-Bruce Vento Homeless Assistance Act, qualifies for the FIT Program.
A student who is residing in the following circumstances is qualified for the FIT Program:
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, also known as “doubled-up”
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters; or
- Living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, train or bus station, or other public or private place that is not designed for or ordinary use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
Resources for School Staff
- Caregiver’s Authorization Form
- MCSD Removing Barriers
- Runaway Act
- Program Checklist for student decisions
Resources for Unaccompanied Youth and College/Career Ready Information
If you are a student in the Martin County School District without safe and stable housing and living on your own without a parent, guardian, and not in foster care, please contact the FIT Program Coordinator for assistance and support. We can assist you while you are still attending one of our schools and also help you transition to college. The FIT Program partners with Indian River State College (IRSC) in helping unaccompanied students attend college, or a certificate program they offer at IRSC. Unaccompanied students who are eligible for FIT services can also qualify for a verification letter that assists with FAFSA completion. Please contact your FIT Coordinator today!
Resources for Parents/Guardians/Caregivers
- Habitat for Humanity
Food Service and Nutrition Information
How Can the Community Help?
FIT of Martin County is happy to have agencies in our community that come together to assist our families. When students don’t have to worry about food, clothing and school supplies, they succeed in and out of the classroom.
To donate items please contact your school’s FIT Liaison or the District Coordinator.
We are accepting the following new items:
- New clothing and shoes (Light jackets for winter)
- Toiletries (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)
- School Supplies (e.g. notebooks, composition books, paper, pens, pencils, etc.)