The McKinney-Vento Act (Section 725) defines “homeless children and youth” (school-age and younger) as:
- Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including children and youth who are:
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations.
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters.
- Abandoned in hospitals.
- Awaiting foster care placement.
- Children and youth 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.
- Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.
- The term unaccompanied youth includes a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This would include runaways living in runaway shelters, abandoned buildings, cars, on the streets, or in other inadequate housing; children and youth denied housing by their families (sometimes referred to as “throwaway children and youth”); and school-age unwed mothers living in homes for unwed mothers because they have no other housing available.
If you or your family lives in any of the above situations including in a shelter, motel, vehicle, or campground; on the street; in an abandoned building, trailer, or other inadequate accommodations; or doubled up with friends or relatives because you are unable to find or afford housing, then your pre-school aged and school aged children have certain right and protections under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.
Your children have the right to:
• Go to school, no matter where you live or how long you have lived there. They must be given access to the same public education, including preschool education, provided to other children.
• Continue in the school they attended before you became homeless or the school they last attended, if that is your choice and is feasible. The school can not charge tuition when a homeless student opts to attend the school of origin. If a school sends your child to a school other than the one you request, the school must provide you with a written explanation and offer you the right to appeal the decision.
• Receive transportation to the school they attended before your family became homeless or the school they last attended, if you or a guardian request such transportation.
• Attend a school and participate in school programs with children who are not homeless. Children cannot be separated from the regular school program because they are homeless.
• Enroll in school without giving a permanent address. Schools cannot require proof of residency that might prevent or delay school enrollment.
• Enroll and attend classes while the school arranges for the transfer of school and immunization records or any other documents required for enrollment.
• Enroll and attend classes in the school of your choice even while the school and you seek to resolve a dispute over enrolling your children.
• Receive the same special programs and services, if needed, as provided to all other children served in these programs.
• Receive transportation to school and to school programs.
When you move, you should do the following:
• Contact the school district’s local liaison for homeless education (Don Marzolf at [email protected] or 847-692-8013) for help in enrolling your child in a new school or arranging for your child to continue in his or her former school. (Or, someone at a shelter, social services office, or the school can direct you to the person you need to contact.)
• Contact the school and provide any information you think will assist the teachers in helping your child adjust to new circumstances.
• Ask the local liaison for homeless education, the shelter provider, or a social worker for assistance with clothing and supplies, if needed.
Local Area Contact: Don Marzolf at [email protected] or 847-692-8013
State Coordinator: Tom Bookler at 630-386-0883
For more information about homeless resources, information about the dispute process, and other resources, please visit: https://www.ncisc.org/homeless-students