Homeless Child Act

The Educational Rights of Students Experiencing Homelessness

Congress reauthorized in January of 2002 the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance

Act, Subtitle VII-B, originally passed in 1987 to help people experiencing

homelessness.. This federal law includes the Education of Homeless Children and

Youth Program that entitles children who are homeless to a free, appropriate public

education and requires schools to remove barriers to their enrollment, attendance, and

success in school. This Act protects all students who do not have a fixed, regular and

adequate residence, such as students living in the following situations:


doubled-up housing with other families or friends due to hardship;


runaway/homeless youth shelters (even if parents invite the youth home);


hotels or motels;


shelters, including domestic violence shelters;


transitional housing shelters;


cars, abandoned buildings parks, the streets or other public spaces;


campgrounds or inadequate trailer homes


awaiting foster care placement; and/or


abandoned in a hospital.

Some key provisions in this federal law are listed below.

Every LEA must designate a homeless education liaison/coordinator to assist

families and school personnel in ensuring that students who are homeless can enroll

and succeed in school.

Schools must immediately enroll students experiencing homelessness, even if they

do not have proof of residency, school and immunization records, birth certificates or

other documents, and even if they are not accompanied by an adult.

A student in a homeless situation has the right to stay in his/her school of origin even

if (s)he moves out of the district.

The LEA must arrange transportation for students experiencing homelessness even

if the student’s temporary housing arrangement is out of the district.

Students experiencing homelessness are eligible, based on individual need, for

services provided to other students such as preschool, free or reduced school

meals, services for English language learners, special education,

vocational/technical education, gifted and talented services, and before- and afterschool


Students in homeless situations are automatically eligible for Title I services.

If there is disagreement as to whether a student experiencing homelessness is

eligible to attend the school (s)he chooses (between school of

origin and school in the district of his/her new temporary

residence), the school district is to provide a written explanation as

to why they believe the student is not eligible and allow the student

to go to the school (s)he chooses while such disagreements are

settled. The LEA liaison/ coordinator is responsible for settling

such disagreements.

Students in homeless situations are to attend schools with children who are not

experiencing homelessness rather than be placed in separate schools because they

are homeless.

Students experiencing homelessness are to have the opportunity to meet the same

high academic achievement standards as all students.

If a state or local school district has laws or policies that conflict with the McKinney-

Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Act overrules those laws and policies. If a school

does not follow the McKinney-Vento Act’s requirements, you should call your local

homeless liaison/coordinator or State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless

Children and Youth.

Informative Web Sites


National Center for Homeless Education at SERVE, www.serve.org/nche/


National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth,



National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, www.nlchp.org/


Overview description of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act,



National Coalition for the Homeless, www.nationalhomeless.org

For More Information

Contact Cynthia J. Floyd

State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Division of School Improvement

301 N. Wilmington Street

Raleigh, NC 27601-2825

Phone: 919.807.3942 or 919.807.3939

Fax: 919.807.3917

You may also contact Carolyn Foxx at 919.807.3919.

This summary is in no way intended to replace more comprehensive documentation of the McKinney –

Vento Homeless Assistance Act. For complete information, refer to one of the web sites listed above.

Alternative and Safe Schools/Instructional Support

Division of School Improvement

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

301 N. Wilmington Street

Raleigh, NC 27601-2825

2008 The Public Schools of Robeson County complies with all federal and state rules and regulations and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, gender, marital status, age, or disability.