Under 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.
The following free resources are designed for training school personnel and for improving awareness and identification in communities.
The National Center for Homeless Education, the technical assistance provider for the U.S. Department of Education, also provides professional development materials and trainings.
1. Federal Education Definition of Homelessness
- Click Here to Download the Infographic
- Click Here to Download the Editable Infographic – You can insert your agencies’ contact information in this editable Word doc version.
2. “Know Your Rights” Flyers
These flyers can help get the word out about the rights of students experiencing homelessness, while also helping parents and youth understand how sharing their situation can increase access to and stability in school. We’ve created simple flyers for parents and for unaccompanied youth that can be edited for specific communities. We invite you to download and insert your logo, website, and local contact information.
- Download the “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Parents]
- Download the “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Parents] – In Spanish
- Download the “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Parents] – In Haitian Kreyol
- Download the “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Youth]
- Download the “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Youth] – In Spanish
3. Potential Indicators of Homelessness
- Click Here to Download the Flyer
4. Potential Signs of Homelessness in Virtual Schools
- Click Here to Download the Infographic
To help inform families and youth about their educational rights, SchoolHouse Connection developed three public service announcements (PSA) aimed at reaching youth, families, educators, community organizations, and local leaders:
1. A PSA from Sesame Street Workshop with a message from Elmo for parents and children experiencing homelessness.
2. A PSA aimed at educators and community members to engage them in efforts to identify and assist families and youth experiencing homelessness.
3. A PSA aimed specifically at youth experiencing homelessness (whether they are with family or not) – narrated by Dez, a youth with lived experience.
For the basics on the McKinney-Vento Act. This customizable PowerPoint includes two basic scenarios with talking points, a quiz, and youth voice video clip. It can be edited for presentation lengths of 15-45 minutes. Simply click on File > Download > Microsoft PowerPoint.
1. Basic Primer PowerPoint on the McKinney-Vento Act. This customizable PowerPoint, updated with the most recent information on homelessnesss, includes two basic scenarios, a quiz, a youth voice video clip, and a few PSAs. It can be edited for presentation lengths of 15-45 minutes.
2. Longer PowerPoint for more in-depth training, with legal citations. This PowerPoint can be customized for presentations of 1-2 hours.
This brief document summarizes the McKinney-Vento Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with links to key implementation resources.
ESSA created important requirements and opportunities for serving children and youth experiencing homelessness through Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This document summarizes these requirements.
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 on this page to help state and local educational agencies make the most of this historic opportunity to serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.
This resource describes certain struggles or behaviors that may be indicators of homelessness, explains how we can reframe our thinking to better support students, and offers strategies to assist in the identification process by looking for red flags and reaching out to the building social worker or point of contact.
For many students experiencing homelessness, school is the only place of stability in their lives. Teachers play a crucial role in creating a classroom environment that is safe and supportive for all students, especially those who are highly mobile and have experienced the trauma that often accompanies homelessness. Here, we provide information and strategies that teachers and support staff can use to support the educational success of students experiencing homelessness.
School counselors provide important support to students experiencing homelessness. The McKinney-Vento Act recognized this role by adding requirements that counselors advise students experiencing homelessness and improve their readiness for college. This quick guide, written by a school counselor, provides practical tips and strategies for supporting students experiencing homelessness, helping meet their basic needs, and planning for graduation.
This guide was created by Washington state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Pages 11-25 contain checklists that can be copied and adapted, with acknowledgments to OSPI. Checklists are included for the following school staff:
- School counselors and social workers
- Secretaries, registrars, clerks, and administrative assistants
- School nurses and health room assistants
- School principals
- Food services staff
- School support personnel, librarians, school resource officers, paraeducators, and custodial staff
- School bus drivers
Homeless liaisons have a responsibility under the McKinney-Vento Act to identify and refer younger children to early learning programs and are uniquely positioned to make those connections, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Use this checklist as a guide for ensuring young children experiencing homelessness are enrolled.
This one-pager summarizes access to early learning for children experiencing homelessness, including the following topic: preschool under the McKinney-Vento Act, Head Start and Early Head Start, Child Care Subsidies, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), and support for young children with developmental delays or disabilities.
Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) explains that ARP-HCY funds supplement the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program and that all allowable EHCY uses apply to these funds. ED has approved using ARP-HCY funds for FAFSA support and other activities to ensure college readiness and transition.
Sample Form Letters to Determine Independent Student Status of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the FAFSA
Federal law (the McKinney-Vento Act) requires school district homeless liaisons to inform unaccompanied homeless youth of their status as independent students for financial aid (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA) and help them obtain verification of that status. To help implement this policy, we’ve prepared a sample form letter (Microsoft Word). This form letter may be edited as appropriate for your school district, institution of higher education, shelter, transitional living program, or street outreach program.
Financial aid administrators have the responsibility to make determinations of unaccompanied homeless youth if youth are unable to get determinations from other entities. The determination must be made based on the legal definitions of homeless and unaccompanied, and independently from the reasons that the student is an unaccompanied homeless youth, or is a youth who is unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting. This template can be used by financial aid administrators to make unaccompanied homeless youth determinations.
The U.S. Department of Education announced a delay in releasing the 2024-25 FAFSA to December 2023 instead of the usual October 1 due to the FAFSA Simplification Act. This change emphasizes the need for professionals assisting homeless and foster youth to understand the new FAFSA provisions and help these youths complete the application. More details will be provided by ED, but proactive measures are encouraged to prepare for these changes.
For more information and resources on the FAFSA and unaccompanied homeless youth, see SchoolHouse Connection’s FAFSA page.
This resource page is entirely in Spanish, with fact sheets, flyers, and videos to support children and youth experiencing homelessness, birth through higher education.
1. Volantes Acerca de los Derechos McKinney-Vento | Editable “Know Your Rights” Flyers
- Para los Padres | “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Parents]
- Para los Jóvenes | “Know Your Rights” Flyer [Youth]
2. Un Resumen del Acta McKinney-Vento | The-McKinney-Vento-Act-Quick-Reference
We sat down with a few of our SchoolHouse Connection Scholars to talk about the importance of education in their lives, their gratitude to mentors and educators, and the life-shaping impact of being seen and supported while experiencing homelessness. Please share this video with your networks.
SchoolHouse Connection receives many questions from educators, service providers, and the public about the education and care of children and youth experiencing homelessness. We respond to every question we receive, citing applicable law and policy. In order to assist people who may have similar questions, we feature many of the questions and answers on this web page.
In addition, you can download and print a complete FAQ document, organized by categories.
Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every local educational agency is required to designate a liaison for homeless children and youth. The local educational agency liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and youth are identified and enrolled in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.
Note: This contact information may change frequently due to staff turnover. If you have problems finding the right school district homeless liaison, please contact your state homeless education coordinator.
This directory now includes contact information for Head Start Collaboration Offices and for Homeless Higher Education Liaisons for those states that have designated homeless higher education liaisons.
- Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office, McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Services, has launched an online referral form for community partners to connect families and youth to McKinney-Vento liaisons for education-related needs.
- Eviction Poster from North East Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas
- Enrollment Letter for McKinney-Vento Families – Kylee Fuhr, District Homeless Liaison of St. Lucie Public Schools, Florida, sends this enrollment letter out to every family that is enrolled in the McKinney Vento program either via USPS or email.
- Awareness Materials from Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, Texas – These materials were created by the Dallas ISD Parent Advocacy & Support Services. They include both English and Spanish materials.
- Video from Schoolhouse Link, a partnership between the Safe Children Coalition, Inc., and the Sarasota County School Board. This video is designed for teacher training, specifically.
- McKinney-Vento Poster in Farsi/Dari (Languages spoken in Afghanistan), with thanks to Irvine USD, California
- English version for reference
- McKinney-Vento Enrollment Form in Farsi/Dari (Languages spoken in Afghanistan), with thanks to Irvine USD, California
- English version for reference