The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth
Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and
educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento
provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting
district programs that serve homeless students.
The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children as "individuals who lack a
fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." The act provides examples of
children who would fall under this definition:
- Children and youth sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship
or a similar reason
- Children and youth living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds
due to lack of alternative accommodations
- Children and youth living in emergency or transitional shelters
- Children and youth abandoned in hospitals
- Children and youth whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc)
- Children and youth living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
- Migratory children and youth living in any of the above situations
The U.S. Department of Education has issued its Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
Non-Regulatory Guidance |
Enrollment and Transportation
The McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll homeless children and
youth immediately, even if they lack normally required documents, such
as immunization records or proof of residence. The act ensures that
homeless children and youth have transportation to and from their school
of origin if it is in the child's or youth's best interest. See WSSDA
(Policy No. 3115) for more information.
The McKinney-Vento Act provides grant funding to states and, in return, states
are bound by the terms of the act. Washington receives approximately $950,000 in
funding each year from the U.S. Department of Education to support the education
of homeless students in school programs. This is the only money specifically
designated for serving the educational needs of homeless students in Washington.
OSPI, as the state educational agency, designates a statewide Education of
Homeless Children and Youth Coordinator to review policies and create
procedures, including dispute resolution procedures, to ensure that homeless
children and youth are able to attend school.
School District Responsibilities
Local school districts must designate a homeless liaison to ensure that homeless children and youth are identified and served. The liaison must provide public notice to homeless families (in the community and at school), and facilitate access to school services including transportation. School districts are also required to track their homeless students and report that data annually to OSPI.
For more information: