McKinney-Vento/Homeless Assistance Act
The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” The act provides examples of children who would fall under this definition:
- Children and youth sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason.
- Children and youth living in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations.”
- Children and youth living in “emergency or transitional shelters.”
- Children and youth abandoned in hospitals.
- Children and youth whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g., park benches, etc.).
- Children and youth living in “cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations.”
- Migratory children and youth living in any of the above situations.
- The McKinney-Vento Act ensures homeless children transportation to and from school free of charge, allowing children to attend their school of origin (last school enrolled or the school they attended when they first become homeless) regardless of what district the family resides in. It requires schools to register homeless children even if they lack normally required documents, such as immunization records or proof of residence.
Homeless families’ rights
- You have the right to register your child for school even if you do not have your full documentation such as immunization records, utility bill, birth certificate, etc.
- Once registered, your child can begin attending school within one or two days.
- Your child has the right to stay in the same school even if you move, if it is feasible and in the best interests of him or her.
- Your child will be provided with school transportation with school buses, city bus passes or taxi cabs.
- Your children are entitled to free lunch and breakfast at school without the need to fill out the form.
- Your child must not be isolated or stigmatized.
- The above services will continue until the end of the school year in which homelessness ends for your family.
Dispute resolution process
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act acknowledges that disputes may arise between the school district and homeless students and their parents, or unaccompanied youth, when the district seeks to place a student in a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or unaccompanied youth. The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has developed a dispute resolution process as required by the McKinney-Vento Act. Disputes related to school selection or enrollment should be initiated at the request of the parent or unaccompanied youth and not at the request of the school district.
Rights and resolutions
Students who live in transitional situations have the right to:
- Stay in their school even if they move out of the school district. Students can also finish the current school year in their school even if they find permanent housing during that school year.
- Immediately enroll, attend classes and participate fully in school activities in the local school in the area where they are living, without proof of residency, immunization records or other medical records, school records, or other documents.
- The elimination of barriers for a student’s full participation in school and school related activities (i.e. school fees, required supplies).
- Get transportation to their “school of origin” provided or arranged by the school district, or a joint effort between school districts.
- Attend school district provided preschool programs.
- Access all school services including free school meals, services for English language learners, special education, Title I services, vocational/technical education, gifted and talented services, and before- and after-school care/programs as needed.
- Have disagreements with the school settled quickly and go to the school they choose while disagreements are settled. Washington State has a uniform policy and procedure for dispute resolution.
- A free Child Find evaluation to assess developmental status.
For assistance or more information, please contact Jami Cross at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-563-7314.