The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education 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:
- 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
- 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
- Migratory children and youth living in any of the above situations
A Parent’s Guide to the Rights of Children
and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Source - the Ohio Department of Education
Your child has the right to:
- Go to school, no matter where you live or how long you have lived there;
- Stay in the school that he or she was attending before becoming homeless or the school he or she last attended, if that is your choice and it is feasible;
- Enroll in school immediately, even if you do not have all the paperwork, such as your child’s school or medical records;
- Access the same special programs and services that are provided to other children, including special education, migrant education and vocational education;
- Receive the same public education that is provided to other children, including preschool. (Your child cannot be separated from the mainstream school environment because he or she is homeless. He or she cannot be segregated in a separate school, separate programs within a school or separate settings within a school).
If a child is assigned to a school not of your choosing, the school district must explain its decision in writing.
You have the right to appeal the district’s decision regarding the school to which your child has been assigned. Your child has the right to go to the school of your choice while the dispute is being resolved.
If you move, you should…
- Contact the school district’s local liaison for homeless education for help in enrolling your child in a new school or arranging for your child to continue in his or her former school;
- Contact the school and provide any information you think will assist the teachers in helping your child adjust to the new situation;
- Tell the school the date you are leaving and start the transfer of your records;
- Ask for a copy of your child’s school records, including:
- An updated transcript
- The grade your child is in
- Any important medical information about your child’s needs;
- Scores your child made on any standardized tests;
- If possible, allow your child to say goodbye to friends and teachers.
How you can help your child?
- Make sure your child attends school every day;
- Read to your child. Even a few minutes a day makes a difference.
- Make education a family priority
- Help your child develop good study habits;
- Meet with your child’s teachers and other school personnel.