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A recent amendment to the Vital Record Act (410 ILCS 535/1 et seq.) took effect on January 1, 2018 (Public Act 100-0506), and requires that all applicable fees for a search for a birth record or a certified copy of a birth record be waived for requests by a homeless person whose status is verified. A “homeless person” is a homeless individual as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and its implementing regulations. Generally, an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

A school district’s homeless liaison and social worker are authorized by the Act to verify the homeless status of an individual requesting free birth records. Individuals who are homeless must not be charged for this verification.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has a form available to verify that a person is homeless for the purpose of obtaining free birth records. School districts are to complete the form and print it on the district’s letterhead. The form is available on the ISBE Homeless Education website.

Under both the federal McKinney-Vento Act and the Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act, school districts have an affirmative duty to identify homeless families within the district. In addition, school districts must enroll students experiencing homelessness immediately, even if the student is unable to provide documents that are typically required for enrollment (such as previous academic records, required health examination and immunization records, proof of residency, proof of guardianship, birth certificates, or other documentation); has missed application or enrollment deadlines during a period of homelessness; or has outstanding fees. Each school district’s homeless liaison must be involved to provide assistance to families who may be homeless so they are aware of their right to enroll their child(ren) in school and, following enrollment, receive services available to homeless students and their families.

For questions regarding homeless students, please contact Jennifer Mueller.