About The McKinney-Vento Act
The McKinney-Vento Act (42 U.S.C. § 11431 et seq.) is a federal law that addresses the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness and educational challenges created by homelessness. It guarantees students the right to enroll, attend, and succeed in school. As a requirement of the federal law, all public school districts in the United States must appoint a liaison that will ensure compliance with the federal law.
The law defines homeless to include (but not limited to) the following temporary living situations due to hardship:
- Living with a friend, relative or other person/family because of a loss of housing
- Staying in a motel or hotel because of a loss of housing or fleeing domestic violence
- Living in an emergency shelter, transitional housing or domestic violence shelter
- Living in a car, park or public place, abandoned building or bus station
- Living temporarily in substandard housing
- Living in a campground or an inadequate trailer home
- Living in a runaway or homeless youth shelter; run away youth
- Youth living on their own, even if their families want them to come home
- Immediate Enrollment
Students in transition have the right to enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documentation normally required for enrollment, such as previous school records, medical or immunization records, proof of residency, birth certificate, proof of guardianship, or other documents.
The terms “enroll” and “enrollment” include attending classes and participating fully in school activities.
If a student does not have immunizations or medical records, the school liaison must assist in obtaining the records after immediate enrollment. The student must be enrolled in school in the interim. If there are no school records, the enrolling school must contact the student’s previous school to obtain school records after immediate enrollment.
Children and youth in transition often do not have the documents ordinarily required for school enrollment. However, school may be the only opportunity for these children and youth to benefit from a stable environment, uninterrupted adult attention, peer relations, academic stimulation, and reliable meals. Enrolling children and youth in transition in school immediately provides them with needed stability and avoids disconnecting them from school for days or weeks while documents are gathered.
Enrolling Without A Legal Guardian
A student in transition seeking enrollment in school may not be living with their parents or legal guardians. Frequently, students are sent to live temporarily with others because of homelessness. Youth may be on their own because of abuse or conflict within the home.
A student who is eligible for McKinney-Vento services does not need to provide proof of guardianship or custody. Lack of a legal guardian or guardianship documents cannot delay or prevent the enrollment of an unaccompanied youth. 42 U.S.C. §§11432(g)(3)(C), (g)(1)(H)(iv), (g)(1)(F)(ii).
Therefore, schools may not condition school enrollment upon the receipt of proof of legal guardianship by caregivers of homeless, unaccompanied youth; nor may they require caregivers to become legal guardians within a certain period of time after the child enrolls in school. The decision to seek legal guardianship is a serious decision that affects significantly the legal rights of the parent and caregiver well beyond the education arena. In addition, it is important to note that the absence of an available caregiver must not impede enrollment. Unaccompanied, homeless youth who are on their own completely must be enrolled in school immediately.
The McKinney-Vento Act provisions requiring immediate enrollment are even more important in a case of child abduction. If there is legitimate cause for concern, the school should enroll immediately and contact security or the police. The safest place for the student is school.
- School Selection
- Promoting stability, nutrition, and academic support
- Services are provided for the duration of the school year
- Services DO NOT renew automatically each year
School Social Workers and McKinney-Vento District Liaison assess for service eligibility. To obtain more information about services provided and how to access services, please contact the School Social Worker or the District McKinney-Vento Act Liaison (see below for Liaison contact information).
District LiaisonCarla Marlin Smith
(919) 918-2170 ext. 24006
McKinney-Vento State CoordinatorLisa Phillips