Homeless Students Find Support in McKinney-Vento

Increases Support Includes Greater Emphasis on Identifying Homeless Students

As of October 1, 2016, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act includes increased support for homeless students through the Every Child Succeeds Act.

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 increased support includes removing barriers so that children and youth experiencing homelessness can access extracurricular and other academic programs.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has compiled a synopsis of the changes. This synopsis provides critical information to share with the school systems in the communities you work in.

Key highlights of these changes include:

  • There is greater emphasis on identifying children and youth experiencing homelessness, including requirements that SEAs and LEAs provide training and professional development opportunities for staff to ensure that state coordinators and local liaisons are able to carry out their duties effectively.
  • Barriers must be removed so that children and youth experiencing homelessness who meet relevant eligibility criteria can access academic and extracurricular activities, including magnet school, summer school, career and technical education, advanced placement, online learning, and charter school programs.
  • There is a presumption that keeping children and youth experiencing homelessness enrolled in the school of origin is in the child’s or youth’s best interest, except when contrary to the request of the child’s or youth’s parent or guardian, or the youth (in the case of an unaccompanied youth).
  • Dispute resolution procedures can now address eligibility issues, in addition to school selection and enrollment.

USICH also makes the case that “the need for change is urgent.” Public schools identified 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness during the 2013–14 school year, including students who are sharing the housing of other people due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, or living in hotels/motels due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations.

That’s a 7% increase compared to the previous year and a 100% increase since 2007. Children and youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability are less likely to be academically successful, and less likely to graduate from high school and make it to and through college.”

Summary of Changes

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