Educational Support Departments » Student Support » Students Experiencing Homelessness

Students Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness as outlined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001;

(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); 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 adequate 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 (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));

(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 (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Rights and Services for Homeless Students.

In order to remove educational barriers for homeless children and youth, the McKinneyVento Act mandates:

  • Immediate school enrollment and full participation in all school activities for eligible children, even when records normally required for enrollment are not available [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(C)];
  • the right of children and youth experiencing homelessness to remain in their school of origin (the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled), when feasible and in the child’s or youth’s best interest to do so [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(A)];
  • transportation to and from the school of origin [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(1)( J)(iii)];
  • access to programs and services, including special education services, preschool services, free school meals, Title I services, services for English language learners, vocational/ technical education, gifted and talented services, and before- and after-school care [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(4)];
  • rights and protections specifically for unaccompanied youth (youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) who are experiencing homelessness [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(B)(iii)], including allowing them to be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(1)(H)(iii)];
  • the right to dispute an enrollment decision and for a child or youth to be admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending the resolution of the dispute [42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(E)(i)]; and
  • the appointment of a local homeless education liaison in every school district or local education agency (LEA) to ensure that homeless children and youth are identified and given full and equal access to all educational services for which they are eligible in order to succeed in school [42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(6)(A)].


Contacts for Support

State coordinator
Lisa Phillips


Online Resources
NCHEP website
NCHEP Profile Page

ArtSpace Homeless Liason