English Language Learners / Health and Wellness / School Enrollment / Ages 2-18

What Parents Need to Know About the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is designed to support the education of students experiencing homelessness, or who are living in temporary or unstable housing. Here’s what that means for your family.

We know that finding your family without secure housing is incredibly stressful. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act exists to support the education of students who are experiencing homelessness or who are living in temporary or shared housing (including students who are new to the country), so that your child’s schooling can remain as stable as possible.

Here’s what that means:

  • The law is designed to protect students with unstable or temporary housing. McKinney-Vento applies to children who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” This applies to children living in a variety of situations, such as:
    • Transitional or emergency shelters
    • Public or private spaces that are not intended as sleeping quarters (like bus or train stations, park benches, or cars)
    • Shared housing with others due to loss of housing or economic hardship, including a rented room within a home
    • Motels, trailer parks, campgrounds, abandoned buildings or any other kind of substandard housing
  • The law is intended to ensure that students’ school experience remains stable even if their families are experiencing homelessness. McKinney-Vento states that children who experience a loss of housing can stay in the school where they are currently enrolled. That is true if they move out of that school district.
  • Transportation to and from school and extracurriculars must be provided at no cost to families. This includes any special transportation necessary to accommodate a child experiencing homelessness, regardless of where the child is living.
  • Schools must enroll children experiencing homelessness, even if they lack normally required documents. While your child has the right to stay in the school they were enrolled in before the loss of housing, you can also enroll your child in a new school, even if you do not have a permanent residence. McKinney-Vento states that a school must immediately enroll your child, even if you do not have the necessary documents (like birth certificates, proof of residency, and immunization records).
  • McKinney-Vento also applies to migrant children and unaccompanied minors. Any child who lacks an adequate and secure place to sleep at night is protected by McKinney-Vento. If you’re uncertain if your child is eligible, your school or district will have a family liaison or homelessness coordinator who can help you understand your rights.

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