Students Experiencing Homelessness
McKinney-Vento Program Supervisor
McKinney-Vento Program Supervisor Lead
Vivian Rogers Decker
Homeless Student Stability Education Program Supervisor
Program Specialist | ARP-HCY
Melissa Rilette Burnce
McKinney-Vento Trainer Program Supervisor
Washington receives funding each year from the U.S. Department of Education and the Washington State Legislature to support the education of homeless students in school programs. Funding is distributed to LEAs through a competitive grant process.
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 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.
Grants to districts are available on a competitive basis, based on need as well as the quality of the proposal (per federal rules). Learn more about the federal McKinney-Vento Act Grant and the state Homeless Student Stability education Program (HSSeP) Grant.
ARP-HCY Resources (American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth)
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) provided an unprecedented $800 million to support the specific and urgent needs of homeless children and youth in recognition of the extraordinary impact of the pandemic on students experiencing homelessness through the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Fund. These grant funds have been disseminated to local districts based on a formula provided by the US Department of Education to facilitate the identification, enrollment, retention, and educational success of homeless children and youth. A variety of resources have been made available to provide districts with guidance, best practices, and ideas related to using these funds effectively.
See a list of homeless education Liaison contacts or update contacts using the Homeless Liaison Update Form.
Data is collected each year on homeless children and youth enrolled and served by districts in Washington state.
School districts shall ensure that public notice of the educational rights of homeless children and youth is disseminated where such children and youth receive services under this Act, such as shelters, public libraries, and soup kitchens, in a manner and form understandable to the parents and guardians of homeless children and youth.
Find sample forms and templates for districts to meet federal and state program compliance.
Homeless Student Stability education Program (HSSeP)
In 2016, the Washington State Legislature passed the Homeless Student Stability and Opportunity Gap Act, to amend state laws related to improving educational outcomes for homeless students through increased identification services, in-school supports, and housing stability. The resulting Homeless Student Stability Program at OSPI complements the Federal McKinney-Vento program, providing additional support and resources for districts.