What is the definition of homelessness for schools, and what are some common signs of homelessness? This resource covers both topics.

Homelessness Under The McKinney-Vento Act: Definition And Signs Of Homelessness For Schools

What is the definition of homelessness?

Lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Homeless living situations include:

  • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • Staying in emergency or transitional shelters
  • Sleeping in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.

Citation: 42 USC §11434a(2)

What are signs of homelessness?

  • Enrollment at multiple schools, lack of records, gaps in learning, poor/inconsistent attendance, talking about frequent moves.
  • Poor hygiene, unmet medical/dental needs, wearing the same clothes repeatedly, fatigue, hoarding food.
  • Social and behavioral challenges, such as extreme shyness, withdrawal, or aggression; clinginess; difficulty with peer and/or adult relationships; poor attention span; anxiety late in the school day.
  • Lack of participation in field trips and/or afterschool activities, lack of basic school supplies, inability to complete special projects.

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