The federal McKinney-Vento Act is designed to protect families whose living situation is no longer stable. It provides specific protections for children and youth, including unaccompanied youth, who are homeless as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act by ensuring immediate school enrollment, equal access, and school stability. Children and youth who are homeless have a right to remain in their school of origin (the school they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last enrolled) whenever possible and according to their best interest.
Homeless students who lack records, including records normally required for enrollment such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, birth certificates, or other documents, are to be immediately enrolled and served. Because homeless students will not necessarily follow the same processes as housed students when enrolling in schools or transferring between districts, it is important that families contact the school district’s homeless liaison for more information about the rights of homeless students, school enrollment options, and the provision of student services as outlined in the McKinney-Vento Act.
Who is considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act?
Homeless children and youth are defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence. This includes children and youth who are:
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasons
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camp grounds due to the lack of alternate adequate accommodations
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters
- Living in a primary night-time residence not used as a regular sleeping accommodation
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, inadequate housing, or similar settings
- Migratory children living in any of the circumstances described above
Educational Rights of homeless children and youth
Under the McKinney-Vento Act, homeless children and youth have the right to
- Continue to go to the school they were attending prior to becoming homeless, if that is their preference and it is determined to be in the child’s best interest. (If the school district believes the school requested is not in the child’s best interest, then the district must provide a written explanation of its position and information on how to appeal its decision.)
- Receive transportation to go to the school they were attending prior to becoming homeless, if requested
- Enroll in and attend school without having a permanent address or available medical or educational records
- Enroll preschool children in district preschool programs
- Receive the same access to programs and services as all other children, including transportation
- Receive information from the school for help in getting food, clothing, and school supplies
- Receive free lunch, books, supplies, and Title 1 services
National Center for Homeless Education: http://center.serve.org/nche
State of Vermont, Agency of Education: http://education.vermont.gov/student-support/federal-programs/homeless-education
ACSD McKinney-Vento Liaison
Erika Garner, firstname.lastname@example.org, (802) 382-1183