Services for Homeless Students

The Ottumwa Community School District is committed to serving the best interests of its students who are homeless. Whenever feasible, the District provides assistance to minimize the effects of housing instability by maintaining a stable educational environment.


The Homeless Liaison coordinates a variety of activities to assist homeless families with school age children. Primary activities include eliminating traditional barriers to students being enrolled in school immediately. This includes such things as residency requirements, guardianship, transportation, school fees, lack of student records and special programs.

Homelessness brings about a variety of basic needs that require service assistance beyond what schools can offer. The Homeless Specialist works closely with social service agencies and shelter directors to provide for the children. Through the support of various charitable groups and social service agencies the Homeless Specialist tries to provide school supplies, school pictures, weather appropriate clothing, financial assistance, food, and holiday gifts to students in need, by either referral or by direct acquisition.

The District is responsible for enrolling children in the school best suited to their situation, and for providing prompt and sensitive assistance to parents.
The Homeless Program serves children and youth in grades PreK-12 who are students in the Ottumwa Community School District and are considered to be homeless according to the State definition:

  • A homeless child or youth ages 3-21
  • A child who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence
  • A child who is sharing the housing of others (includes doubled-up families) due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; is living in a motel, hotel, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; is living in an emergency or transitional shelter; is abandoned in a hospital, or is awaiting foster care placement.
  • A child who has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for humans beings
  • A child who is living in a car, park, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or similar setting; or
  • A migratory child/youth who qualifies as homeless because of the living circumstances described above
  • Includes youth who have runaway or youth being forced to leave home.


Homeless Liaison

McKinney-Vento logo


If your family lives in any of the following situations:

  • In a shelter
  • In a motel or campground due to the lack of an alternative adequate accommodation
  • In a car, park, abandoned building, or bus or train station
  • Doubled up with other people due to loss of housing or economic hardship

Your school-age children may qualify for certain rights and protections under the federal McKinney-Vento Act. Your eligible children have the right to:

  • Receive a free, appropriate public education
  • Enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment
  • Enroll in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documents
  • Enroll in the local school, or continue attending their school of origin (the school they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last enrolled), if that is your preference
  • If the school district believes that the school you select is not in the best interest of your children, then the district must provide you with a written explanation of its position and inform you of your right to appeal its decision
  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if you request this
  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students, according to your children’s needs

If you believe your children may be eligible, contact the local liaison to find out what services and supports may be available.