Federal Definition of a Homeless Child or Youth
The legal term “homeless children and youth” is based on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and includes:
- Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasons; 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, or are awaiting foster care placement.
- Children and youth 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 beings.
- Children and youth 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 for the purpose of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).
Homeless Students’ Rights
- Enroll and attend classes while the school arranges for transfer of required school records or documents
- Enroll and attend classes even while the school and parent seek to resolve a dispute over enrollment
- Be immediately enrolled in school without a permanent address
- Go to school, no matter where the student lives or how long he/she has lived there
- Receive transportation to his/her school or origin as long as he/she is homeless, or if the student becomes permanently housed, receive transportation until the end of the academic school year
- Have access to the same programs and services that are available to all other students (like free/reduced lunch, ELL, Title I services, Special Education, before and after school care, and gifted services).
In what ways do liaisons help students?
- Locate homeless children and youth in their district, make sure they are immediately enrolled and have an equal opportunity to succeed in school
- Make sure homeless students receive appropriate services, including transportation, preschool, special education, English language learner services, and vocational education.
- Make referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health services, or other care providers.
- Assist unaccompanied youth with enrollment, transportation, and disagreements with schools.
- Help students get immunizations and immunization records.
- Make sure that disagreements between homeless students and schools are resolved.