The Education for Homeless Children and Youths (EHCY) program, authorized under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act), is designed to address the needs of homeless children and youths and ensure educational rights and protections for these children and youths. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act, and changes made by the ESSA which took effect on October 1, 2016.
The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children or youth as, individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence…; and includes –
- children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason, are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations, are living in emergency or transitional shelters, are abandoned in hospitals, are awaiting foster care placement;
- children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human being;
- children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
- migratory children who qualify as homeless
An unaccompanied homeless youth is a youth who meets the definitions of unaccompanied youth and homeless included in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 USC §§11431-11435, 2001). The Act defines unaccompanied youth as, “a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian” (42 USC §11434a(6), 2001). This means that the youth is not living with a parent or guardian, and includes youth who are residing with a caregiver who does not have legal guardianship and youth who are living on their own.
To be eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act as an unaccompanied homeless youth, the student must lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and not be in care of the parent/guardian -
- Children under the age of 18 living with someone other than parent/legal guardian
- Children over the age of 18 who have been “kicked out” of their home, or left due to safety reasons
Children and youth in homeless situations can stay in their school of origin or enroll in the public school district in which the student is living.
If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment in a school:
- The homeless student shall be immediately admitted to the school in which the enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute;
- The parent or guardian of the student shall be provided with a written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment, including the rights of the parent, guardian, or student to appeal the decision;
- The student, parent, or guardian shall be referred to the district’s homeless liaison who shall carry out the appeal process as expeditiously as possible after receiving notice of the dispute; and
- In the case of unaccompanied youth, the homeless liaison shall ensure that the youth is immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of the dispute.
- If the district seeks to place a homeless child in a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent, the school district shall inform the parent or the unaccompanied youth of the right to appeal.