McKinney-Vento Act: Quick Reference

This resource explains the McKinney-Vento Act in detail and summarizes some of its core provisions.

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The McKinney-Vento Act provides rights and services to children and youth experiencing homelessness, which includes those who are: sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; staying in motels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to the lack of an adequate alternative; staying in shelters or transitional housing; or sleeping in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, or similar settings.[i] 

At the State Agency Level

Every state educational agency (SEA) must designate an Office of State Coordinator that can sufficiently carry out duties in the Act.[ii] Key duties include:

  • Responding to inquiries from homeless parents and unaccompanied youth.[iii]
  • Providing professional development programs for liaisons and others.[iv]
  • Conducting monitoring of local educational agencies to enforce compliance.[v]

At the Local Agency Level

Every local education agency (LEA) must designate a liaison for students experiencing homelessness who is able to carry out the duties described in the law.[vi] Key duties include:

School Stability

  • Children and youth experiencing homelessness can remain in their school of origin for the duration of homelessness and until the end of an academic year in which they obtain permanent housing, if it is in their best interest.[xiii]
  • LEAs must make best interest determinations that presume that staying in the school of origin is in the best interest of the child or youth; consider specific student-centered factors; prioritize the wishes of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth; and include a written explanation and right to appeal if the LEA determines that school stability is not in the best interest of the child or youth.[xiv]
  • The definition of school of origin includes both the designated receiving school at the next grade level (if there is a feeder school pattern), and preschools.[xv]
  • Transportation to the school of origin is required, including until the end of the academic year when a student obtains permanent housing.[xvi]

School Enrollment and Participation

  • Homeless children and youth must be enrolled in school immediately, even if they lack documents or have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness.[xvii]
  • SEAs and LEAs must develop, review, and revise policies to remove barriers to the identification, enrollment, and retention of homeless students in school, including barriers due to fees, fines, and absences.[xviii]
  • If a dispute arises over eligibility, school selection or enrollment, the child or youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth seeks enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute, including all available appeals.[xix]
  • States must have procedures to ensure that homeless children and youth do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities.[xx]

Preschool Children

Credit Accrual and College Readiness

Title I, Part A

  • All LEAs that receive Title I Part A funds must reserve funds to support homeless students.[xxvi]
  • Reserved funds may be used for services not ordinarily provided by Title I, including local liaisons and transportation to the school of origin.[xxvii]
  • State report cards must include disaggregated information on the graduation rates and academic achievement of homeless children and youth.[xxviii]


[i] 42 U.S.C. §11434a(2).[viii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(J)(iv).[xv] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(I).[xxii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(iii).
[ii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(d)(3)[ix] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(ix).[xvi] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(J)(iii).[xxiii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(F)(ii).
[iii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(f)(7).[x] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(x)(III).[xvii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(C).[xxiv] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(x)(II).
[iv] 42 U.S.C. §11432(f)(6).[xi] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(iv).[xviii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(I).[xxv] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(K).
[v] 42 U.S.C. §11432(f)(5).[xii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(6)(A)(vi).[xix] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(E)(i).[xxvi] 20 U.S.C. §6313(c)(3)(A).
[vi] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(J)(ii).[xiii] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(A).[xx] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(F)(iii).[xxvii] 20 U.S.C. §6313(c)(3)(C)(ii).
[vii] 42 U.S.C. §§11432(g)(6)(A)(i)-(ii).[xiv] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(B)[xxi] 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(I).[xxviii] 20 U.S.C. §§6311(h)(1)(C)(ii) and (iii).

Additional Resources

  • The McKinney-Vento Act: Federal Law, Guidance, and Funding
  • Homeless Education DirectoryThis homeless directory lists contacts for state coordinators, liaisons, Head Start collab offices, and higher ed liaisons.
  • Awareness and Training ResourcesUnder federal law (the McKinney-Vento Act), every local educational agency (LEA) is required to designate a liaison for children and youth experiencing homelessness. LEA homeless liaisons have ten specific duties under the law, one of which is to provide professional development and other support to school personnel. Training school staff is essential in order for children and youth experiencing homelessness to be identified and to receive the education that is their surest path out of homelessness and poverty.
  • LEA McKinney-Vento Homelessness Policy ChecklistThis checklist is intended to assist local educational agencies in evaluating their own policies. It should be utilized for collaborative reviews with other LEA staff, aimed at identifying components within McKinney-Vento compliance and highlighting areas that may require policy adjustments and improvements in LEA practices.
  • American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY)American Rescue Plan — Homeless Children and Youth, or ARP-HCY funds, are uniquely flexible one-time funds that can help meet many urgent needs. SchoolHouse Connection has compiled resources to help state and local educational agencies make the most of this historic opportunity to serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.