Who Qualifies for McKinney-Vento?
The term “homeless children and youths” means individuals who lack fixed, adequate, and nighttime residence and includes children and youth.
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations.
- Living in emergency or transitional shelter
- Living in public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- Migratory children living in the above circumstances
- Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances
McKinney-Vento Educational Rights
When a student is determined eligible, they have the right to:
- Receive the free, appropriate public education to which they are entitled
- Be enrolled in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment
- Be enrolled in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documentation
- Enroll in the local school near where they’re living; or continue attending their school of origin (the school in which they were last enrolled), if that is their preference and is in the best interest of your child. If the school district believes that the school selected by the student is not in his/her best interest, then the district must provide the student with a written explanation of its position and offer him/her the opportunity to appeal its decision.
- Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if requested.
- Receive educational services comparable to those provided to all other students, according to the student’s needs.
Parent/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Rights
Unaccompanied homeless youth are ensured the same educational rights that the McKinney-Vento Act provides for other homeless students, which include the right to:
- Enroll immediately, even if they do not currently have paperwork normally required for enrollment
- Attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, with the placement decision based on the student’s best interest
- Remain in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the student becomes permanently housed
- Receive transportation to and from school of origin
- Receive educational services, such as free school meals. Title 1 services; and participate in gifted and talented programs, vocational education, alternative education, and any other services comparable to what housed students receive
- Not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless
In addition to the provisions that apply to all homeless students, the McKinney-Vento Act includes the following provisions specifically for unaccompanied youth:
- Unaccompanied homeless youth shall be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship
- During a dispute over school selection or enrollment, unaccompanied homeless youth shall receive a written statement explaining the school’s decision, the youth’s right to appeal the decision, and a referral to the local liaison.
Lisa Phillips, State Coordinator
NC Homeless Education Program
Federal Program Monitoring and Support Services Division with NCDPI
The SERVE Center at UNCG