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The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law passed in 1987 to help families who are homeless keep their children in school with minimal barriers. On December 10, 2015, the President signed into law the “Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015” (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Under the previous version of the ESEA (the No Child Left Behind Act), the education of homeless children and youth was included in Title X, Part C. Under ESSA, homeless education is included in Title IX, Part A.


McKinney-Vento Act:

42 USC § 11431 – STATEMENT OF POLICY the following is policy of the Congress:

(1)        Each State educational agency shall ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.

(2)        In any State that has a compulsory residency requirement as a component of the State’s compulsory school attendance laws or other laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths, the State will review and undertake steps to revise such laws, regulations, practices, or policies to ensure that homeless children and youths are afforded the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths.

(3)        Homelessness alone is not sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment.

(4)        Homeless children and youths should have access to the education and other services that such children and youths need to ensure that such children and youths have an opportunity to meet the same challenging State student academic achievement standards to which all students are held.


Eligibility Under McKinney-Vento:

Children or youth who lack

a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence


• Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason

• Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations

• Living in emergency or transitional shelters

• Living in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings

• Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings

• Migratory children living in the above circumstances

• Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Rights:

Unaccompanied homeless youth are ensured the same educational rights that the McKinney-Vento Act provides for other homeless students, which include the right to:

• Enroll immediately, even if they do not currently have paperwork normally required for enrollment.

• Attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, with the placement decision based on the student’s best interest.

• Remain in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the student becomes permanently housed.

• Receive transportation to and from the school of origin.

• Receive educational services, such as free school meals, Title I services, participate in gifted and talented programs, vocational education, alternative education, and any other services comparable to what housed students receive.

• Not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless.

In addition to the provisions that apply to all homeless students, the McKinney-Vento Act includes the following provisions specifically for unaccompanied homeless youth:

• Unaccompanied homeless youth shall be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship.

• During a dispute over school selection or enrollment, unaccompanied homeless youth shall receive a written statement explaining the school’s decision, the youth’s right to appeal the decision, and a referral to the local liaison.

Local Liaisons shall assist unaccompanied homeless youth in:

• Selecting a school of attendance and enrolling in school.

• Requesting transportation to and from the school of origin.

• Enrolling in school immediately while disputes are resolved.


Additional McKinney-Vento information and homeless data:

National Center for Homeless Education -

National Homelessness Data -

North Carolina Homelessness Data -

Parent Rights – Attached PDF

Youth Rights – Attached PDF


For general McKinney-Vento questions or concerns, please email:

McKinney-Vento School Liaison:

KiAsia Anderson



NC Homeless Education Program -  (

Lisa Phillips

State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

PO Box 5367 Greensboro, N.C. 27435 Phone: (336) 315-7491 Toll-free: (800) 659-3204


For parents who are experiencing displacement, please complete this quick survey.



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