Answer: There is nothing in the McKinney-Vento Act particular to refugees. However, the McKinney-Vento Act applies fully to all refugees experiencing homelessness. In general, liaisons receiving families from Afghanistan should identify them as McKinney-Vento eligible now. Of course, as in all things McKinney-Vento, eligibility is a case-by-case determination. However, the vast majority of these families certainly lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence at this time.

It’s also important to be careful with the use of the word refugee. While these are refugees in the layperson’s use of the word, very few are legally refugees. Legally, refugees have to go through a long process and get their status and visa approved before they enter the US. This didn’t happen in Afghanistan. Only legal refugees will receive refugee resettlement services through the federal government. Some people who worked with the US military have Special Immigrant Visas, but that’s a very small minority. Some will be eligible for a new Priority 2 (P-2) designation granting U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) access for certain Afghan nationals and their eligible family members. However, most Afghans will be arriving under a program called humanitarian parole. They will receive a medical screening, perhaps some very basic cultural information and resource referral, and a one-time payment of about $1200 per person. Refugee resettlement agencies are struggling to serve families who are not legal refugees, but support is minimal. Even legal refugees receive only short-term services and very often end up qualifying for McKinney-Vento services. That’s why we feel confident that in general, it is safe to say that most arriving Afghans will not have stable, adequate housing over the short- to medium-term. Incidentally, the same is true for families arriving from Haiti following the recent earthquake and tropical storm.

It also seems that some families (perhaps many) will want to relocate to cities where there already are Afghan populations. So they may not end up staying where they land for very long. That makes immediate McKinney-Vento identification even more important. Providing them with information about the McKinney-Vento Act now, while the school knows where they are and how to reach them, will help them be equipped with information wherever they may seek to enroll later.

This document provides some information on applying the McKinney-Vento Act to immigrants and refugees.

Here are some resources in Farsi/Dari that might be helpful.  Farsi is the primary language spoken in Afghanistan, although it is called Dari there.

1. McKinney-Vento Brochure in Farsi/Dari (Language spoken in Afghanistan), with thanks to San Juan USD, California

2. McKinney-Vento Poster in Farsi/Dari (Language spoken in Afghanistan), with thanks to Irvine USD, California

3. McKinney-Vento Enrollment Form in Farsi/Dari (Language spoken in Afghanistan), with thanks to Irvine USD, California

Here is some general information and links to help Afghans connect to services:

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