Darlene: Read the Story

Darlene is an expectant mother who lives with the father of her unborn child. She currently works at a clothing store part-time. As a support for her during the pregnancy, Darlene connected with the Early Head Start program in her community. She loves the work of the Early Head Start program and the support they have provided. She plans to enroll her baby in the Early Head Start home-based program.

The father of the unborn child, Fred, does not want Darlene to seek outside support. He is a chain smoker and smokes cigarettes in their one-bedroom apartment. Although Darlene has explained the effects of second-hand smoke on unborn children, he doesn’t believe it. He says that she is getting that garbage from the wrong people. That is why he does not want her to participate in any of those kinds of community service programs.

When Fred gets home from work, he demands his dinner and all of Darlene’s attention. This is why Darlene works part-time. Fred has occasionally slapped Darlene and he is verbally abusive. Recently, he has exhibited behavior that makes Darlene think he may do more than just slap her next time. She has gotten domestic violence information and support through the Early Head Start program. She is very aware of what she needs to do to keep her and her unborn child safe but she doesn’t feel that she can support herself if she leaves Fred.

Then one day it happened. Fred punched Darlene in the face and kicked her. Darlene knew she had to leave. She went to live with Stella, her cousin, and Stella’s family where there was sufficient space and everyone had a comfortable living arrangement.

Read the McKinney-Vento Definition of Homelessness

According to section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)), the term “homeless children and youths”—

(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence...; and

(B) includes—

(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

(ii) children and youths who 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;

(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

(iv) migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Children and youth are considered homeless if they fit both part A and any one of the subparts of part B of the definition above.

Darlene: Explore Information

Before you start the activity, do the following:

  • Consider Darlene’s circumstances.
  • Review the information in the links below.
  • If possible, discuss Darlene’s situation with a colleague.

Darlene: Do the Activity

Are Darlene and her baby living in a homeless situation?

Choose your answer and read the feedback. Get a hint.

Consider these questions:

  • Have you looked at the definition of homelessness?
  • Do Darlene and her baby have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
  • Have you listened to the collaboration directors talk about homelessness?

Answers:

  1. Yes, because Darlene was abused by her husband and had to leave her home.

    Not correct. The abuse Darlene received from her husband is not part of the definition of homelessness, even though it did cause Darlene to leave her home. Although Darlene has a home with her husband, it is not adequate or safe. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Does the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness refer to physical or verbal abuse?
    • Do Darlene and her baby have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Is the residence of Darlene and her baby adequate?
  2. Yes, because Darlene and her baby are living with relatives and do not have their own home.

    Not correct. Darlene and her baby are living with relatives but is it a regular and adequate residence? Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Does the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness refer to physical or verbal abuse?
    • Do Darlene and her baby have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Is the residence of Darlene and her baby adequate?
    • Are Darlene and her baby living in a doubled-up situation?
  3. No, because Darlene and her baby are living with relatives in a comfortable situation for everyone.

    Correct! Darlene and her baby are not homeless because they are living with relatives in a fixed, regular, and adequate situation that is comfortable for everyone. Darlene’s cousin wanted Darlene and her baby to live with her family and so it is not considered a doubled-up situation.

    Whether or not Darlene and her baby are considered homeless is based on whether they fit the definition according to the McKinney-Vento Act. The reason they are not homeless is:

    • Even though they are “sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason,” they are doing so because Stella wants them there.
    • They do not fit the McKinney-Vento Act definition of homelessness because the living arrangement is comfortable for everyone and Darlene and her baby have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

    Currently, Darlene and her baby are not homeless. They are not living in a doubled-up situation because Stella invited them into her home, wants her to be there, and has adequate accommodations.

    For more information about homelessness, look on the ECLKC in Crisis Support under Family and Community Partnerships.

  4. No, because Darlene and her baby still have a home with her husband even if they are not currently living there.

    Not correct. Although Darlene has a home with her husband, it is not adequate or safe. Think about these questions, review the information in the Explore Information tab, and then try again:

    • Do Darlene and her baby have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence?
    • Is Darlene’s residence with her cousin adequate?
    • Do Darlene and her baby have their own residence?

IMPORTANT! As you consider this scenario and how it might compare to families you encounter in your work, remember that each family’s life situation is uniquely different.

Last Reviewed: July 2014

Last Updated: July 9, 2014