Homeless and Foster Children and Youth
The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures educational rights and protection for children and youth experiencing homelessness. It is designed to help expedite the school enrollment of homeless children and youth. State and local educational agencies must ensure that homeless children and youth have equal access to the same free public education as is provided to other children and youth. All educational agencies must review and revise any practices or policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youth.
Who is defined as homeless? Homeless children and youth mean those individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
This may include the following living situations:
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters
- Living in motels or hotels
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings or other facilities not designed for regular sleeping accommodations for human beings
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason
- Runaway or unaccompanied youth
- Youth abandoned in hospitals
Upon identification of a student who appears to meet the definition as described above, school personnel should immediately notify the McKinney-Vento Liaison and update thee coding in AERIES. Every effort should be made by all school personnel to properly identify homeless children and youth and connect them with appropriate personnel and/or services that best meet their needs.
- Resources for Unaccompanied Teens
- County Homeless Assistance
- Are you Doubled Up?
- Eligibility for Homeless Students
- Education for Homeless Children and Youth
In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). It specifically addressed the needs of students in foster care and instituted new protections for them. These provisions took effect December 10, 2016, and require that school districts work with child welfare agencies to ensure the educational stability of children and youth in foster care.
The law specifically requires the following:
- A child in foster care remains in his or her school of origin, unless it is determined that remaining in the school of origin is not in that child’s best interest;
- If it is not in the child’s best interest to stay in his or her school of origin, the child is immediately enrolled in the new school even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment; and
- That the new (enrolling) school immediately contacts the school of origin to obtain relevant academic and other records.