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Homelessness & Education Resources

The McKinney-Vento Act [42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2)] defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes:

Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason

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  • Children and youth who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters

    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, or

    Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.
    Click the button below to read a summary that is easily understandable from


If you have a question about whether your child is eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act, including transportation, school selection, enrollment, and more, call our Infoline at 


Topic Resources

Unaccompanied Youth

Access to School Records for Unaccompanied Youth

This Guidance from the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) at the U.S. Department of Education, “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters,” includes information that can help unaccompanied youth and their caregivers in accessing student educational records. The Guidance clarifies in question 3 that caregivers can access a student’s educational records, even if they are not legal guardians and are not related to the student. The Guidance also explains in questions 5 and 6 that schools can give unaccompanied youth full access to their own records, even when they are under 18. (After they turn 18, students also have the right to access their records.)

Homeless Students

Beyond Debate: Rights of Homeless Students

A 15 minute film produced by the Public Justice Center and Megaphone Project, “Beyond Debate: Rights of Homeless Students” is a short drama illustrating the power of a federal law that fosters educational stability for homeless students.

Unaccompanied Youth

Caregiver Authorization Form

School districts may develop a caregiver form that establishes the responsibilities of caregivers and requests caregivers’ contact information in place of traditional proof of guardianship for unaccompanied youth. This form is not required, but may be helpful to schools and to students. Such forms should be carefully created to avoid barriers to a student’s full participation in school and should never lead to delays in enrollment because unaccompanied youth are entitled to immediate enrollment under the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C).

Supporting Students in Temporary Housing

Commissioner Regulation 100.2 (x)

New York State Education Department

This NYSED Memo (September 2017) details the amendments to the Commissioner’s regulation governing homeless education (section 100.2(x)), which are effective July 1, 2017. They were updated to conform to the changes in the McKinney-Vento Act as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the recent changes to N.Y. Education Law Section 3209.

Role of the School

Enrollment Checklist

The McKinney-Vento Enrollment Checklist, developed by NYS-TEACHS, outlines steps McKinney-Vento liaisons should take when enrolling students experiencing homelessness. The checklist includes links to key documents and referrals.

Role of the School

Housing Questionnaire (English)

The Housing Questionnaire should be used by all school districts as the first page of the enrollment packet for all newly enrolling students. The Housing Questionnaire should also be given to all students/families any time they report a change of address. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires all LEAs that receive Title I funds (including school districts, charter schools, and BOCES) to use the Housing Questionnaire. NYSED also encourages all other LEAs to use the Housing Questionnaire because it asks about students’ living arrangements in order to identify students experiencing homelessness in the school district.

Role of the School

Identifying Children and Youth in Homeless Situations

This NCHE brief:

summarizes the key provisions of Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act related to the identification of children and youth experiencing homelessness; and
provides an overview of implementation strategies at the state and local levels.

Unaccompanied Youth

Increasing Access to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth

This NCHE brief includes a summary of education legislation prior to 2012 that gives unaccompanied homeless youth access to educational supports and provides examples of practices that high schools, colleges, and universities have used to assist these students in succeeding.

Please note: this guidance does not include changes made by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which added new protections for students in temporary housing.

About the Source:

From NCHE: Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) operates the Department’s technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. In this role, NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school.

Homeless Students

Know Your Rights Flyers

These flyers can be distributed following a natural disaster to help families and youth understand their educational rights. They include space to add local contact information. Below is a poster for New York State and for New York City.

Unaccompanied Youth

National Runaway Safeline Home Free Program

NRS’ Home Free Program, a collaboration with Greyhound Lines, helps reunite runaway youth with their families, or an alternative living arrangement, through a free bus ticket home. The program has reunited more than 17,000 youth with their families. By connecting to NRS at 1-800-RUNAWAY or, youth can initiate the process to return home or to a safe alternative.

Unaccompanied Youth

New York State General Obligations Law, Title 15-A—Designation of Person in Parental Relation and Designation of Person in Parental Relation Forms

This law addresses a parent’s power to designate a “person in parental relation” to a child. If a parent is unable to make education-related or medical decisions for a child, they may temporarily designate another person to make those decisions on behalf of the student.

Also, view and download the Designation of Person in Parental Relation Forms.

Supporting Students in Temporary Housing

New York State Law 3209

NYS Education Law Section 3209 describes the rights of students in temporary housing in New York State.

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