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Homeless children and youth frequently move, and maintaining a stable school environment is critical to their success in school.

Students in homeless situations must have access to the educational and other services they need to ensure that they have an opportunity to meet the same challenging state student academic achievement standards to which all students are held.

States and LEAs must review and undertake steps to revise such laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless children and youth in schools in the State.

Comparable Services - 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(4). Each homeless child or youth to be assisted under this part shall be provided services comparable to services offered to other students in the school selected to attend. And any barrier to full participation in these services must be eliminated: Special Education, Transportation, School Meal Programs Pre-School, Title I Services, Gifted and Talented Programs, Vocational and Technical Education, GED Programs, Online/Distance Education, Sports.

Legal Information

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the federal law that governs the education of homeless children. This law provides many rights to homeless children and their families, and many responsibilities to school districts. (Wrightslaw reformatted the law so it is easy to read, print, and distribute to schools, social service agencies, shelters, and child advocates who are responsible for homeless children).

New! July 30, 2018: Letter from OSERS outlines key changes the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding the Title I homeless set-aside. ESSA requires LEAs to reserve a sufficient amount of Title I funds necessary to provide educationally related support services to homeless children and youth in shelters and other locations regardless of whether they attend a Title I school.  LEA may continue to use a portion of the reservation to fund a local homeless liaison’s salary and expenses and defray the excess cost of school of origin transportation.

On December 10, 2015, ESSA reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, including new provisions related to the education of homeless children and youth. The ESSA amendments to the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act (Subtitle VII-B) took effect on October 1, 2016.

Education of Homeless Children & Youth. The Guide to Their Rights. National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, June 2011.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Educational Rights of Children and Youth in Homeless Situations. (Updated October 2017)

OSERS Guidance Letter (2013) on ensuring the high-quality education for highly mobile children.

Education Rights of Children Displaced by Hurricane Harvey - Attorney Mike O'Connor summarizes the basic education rights of all homeless children, including those children displaced by natural disasters, and the rights of children with disabilities. The article includes resources and websites that offer more detailed information.

Homelessness and Students with Disabilities: Educational Rights and Challenges published by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (2004).

State Coordinators for Homeless Education - Every state is required by federal law to have a State Coordinator for Homeless Education. This person is responsible for ensuring the understanding of and compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in public schools throughout the state.

National Center for Homeless Education - The Center provides research, resources, and information enabling communities to address the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Saving Lives: Including People with Disablilities in Emergency Planning - The National Council on Disability (NCD) issued this report in April, and recommended immediate changes in emergency planning for people with disabilities.

Homeless Education Helpline and ListServe - A service of the National Center for Homeless Education. Assistance avialable in English and Spanish.

McKinney-Vento Online Training Presentations - PowerPoint Presentation, sample letters, and many PDF information handouts for administrators and community workers. Links to self-paced training and group interactive training.

Local Homeless Education Liaison Toolkit. This kit is to provide local education agencies (LEAs) with background information and sample resources to ensure homeless children and youth have access to a public education.

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National Association for Education of Homeless Children & Youth - a national grassroots membership association, serves as the voice and the social conscience for the education of children and youth in homeless situations; connects educators, parents, advocates, researchers and service providers to ensure school enrollment and attendance for children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by the lack of safe, permanent and adequate housing.

National Center for Homeless Education (funded by U.S. Department of Education) - provides research, resources, and information to address the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

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Funds and Grants for Educating Homeless Children

Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program - Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 Non-Regulatory Guidance, July 2004

Updated Guidance for Homeless Children in the School Nutrition Programs - U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Local Support Systems for Community Members

Salvation Army

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities

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Last updated: 08/17/18

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