The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
The faculty and staff at San Angelo ISD want all children enrolled and attending school! Yes, it’s the law, but more importantly we care about your child’s education and want to help them succeed. SAISD strives to assure that no child is excluded from a public education due to their living situation, experiencing homelessness, or poverty.
The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students.
The McKinney-Vento program addresses the barriers that homeless children and youth have faced in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under this program, State educational agencies (SEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education—including a public preschool education—as other children and youth. School Districts must ensure homeless students have access to the services they are entitled to so they are empowered to achieve the same state academic standards required of all students.
Homeless children and youth should be integrated into the student body at large and may not be separated from the mainstream school environment. States and districts are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youth.
Defining Homeless – Who Qualifies
The McKinney-Vento Act (Section 725) 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.); and
- Children and youth living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations.
Unaccompanied youth include young people who have run away from home, been thrown out of their homes, or have been abandoned by parents. These young people are separated from their parents for a variety of reasons. For many of these young people, leaving home is a survival issue. Unaccompanied youth have the same rights as other students experiencing homelessness to enroll in, attend, and succeed in public school.
Young people experiencing homelessness live:
- In shared housing with other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason. When a students’ family “double up” because one family is experiencing financial hardship, the family that does not have the permanent residence is considered homeless.
- In motels, hotels, or camping grounds due to the lack of adequate alternative accommodations.
- In cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.
- In emergency or transitional shelters.
- In hospitals where they were abandoned.
- In foster care homes awaiting placement.
Your Child’s Rights
The McKinney-Vento Act provides your child with basic education rights such as:
- Immediate enrollment even if academic records, proof of residence or immunization records are unavailable.
- Immediate eligibility for free child nutrition. Assistance with school supplies, if needed.
- Keeping the child enrolled in “School of origin” upon request or assisting the child with enrollment in the attendance zone where he/she is currently residing.
- Transportation assistance, if needed.
Roles and Responsibilities
The district and campus liaison’s serve as the primary contacts between homeless families and school staff, district personnel, shelter workers, and other service providers. The district and campus liaison’s coordinate services to ensure that homeless children and youth enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed academically.
District and campus liaisons must ensure that:
- Homeless children and youth are identified by school personnel and through coordination activities with other entities and agencies;
- Homeless students enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in, the schools of the district;
- Homeless children and youth and their families receive educational services for which they are eligible, including Head Start, Even Start, and preschool programs administered by the LEA, and referrals to health, mental health, dental, and other appropriate services;
- Parents or guardians of homeless children and youth are informed of educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children;
- Parents and guardians and unaccompanied youth are fully informed of all transportation services, including transportation to and from the school of origin, and are assisted in accessing transportation services;
- Enrollment disputes are mediated in accordance with the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act; and
- Public notice of the educational rights of homeless students is disseminated to locations where they receive services under the McKinney-Vento Act.
San Angelo ISD is committed to serving the academic and social needs of our homeless students. We guarantee the following services for our identified students:
- The right to immediate enrollment in school. (Even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.)
- The right to attend school in his/her school of origin (if this is requested by the parent and is feasible) or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing.
- Automatic eligibility for any nutrition services available at the school.
- The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent and is feasible.
- The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
- The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student's status as homeless is strictly prohibited.
- Community and school partner resources.
- The posting of homeless students' rights in all schools and other places around the community.
School of Origin
The student’s “school of origin” is the school that the student attended when permanently housed; or last school attended. This would also include feeder pattern schools. If the decision is made that remaining in the “school of origin” would be in the student’s best interest, transportation shall be provided. Factors for determining best interest include:
- Distance of commute
- Time of year
- Length of anticipated stay
- Age of student
- Available services
Coordination of funds is required between McKinney-Vento and Title I, Part A. Homeless children and youth are eligible to be served in Title I, Part A schools and non-Title I, Part A schools. School districts shall reserve the necessary funds to provide comparable Title I service to homeless children in non-Title I, Part A schools.
San Angelo ISD uses a portion of the Title I, Part A district reservation to support the needs of our identified homeless children and youth in all campuses. Title I, Part A funds are used to provide:
- Educationally related services;
- clothing and shoes;
- hygiene products;
- student fees that are necessary to participate in the general education program, if needed;
- personal school supplies;
- health services needed; and
- food (dependent upon student situation).
Documentation and Disputes
Upon the decision of school selection; the district liaison shall provide written notification of the following information:
- Contact information for the District Homeless Liaison and school personnel
- Schools reasoning for the decision made
- Notification of rights
- Step by step guide on how to dispute decision, if necessary
- Immediate enrollment while dispute is carried out
Parents and guardians may assist their child by:
- Going to the nearest school in your area for assistance.
- Enrolling your child as soon as possible, even if you do not have an address.
- Provide the school with you most current address.
- Keep the school informed if you move and report any changes throughout the school year.
- Ensuring that your child goes to school every day. Education is so important!
SAISD Board Policy Regarding Homeless Processes
Region 10 Education Service Center MV Homeless Statewide Initiative
The Texas Homeless Education Office
The Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) is committed to ensuring that all Texas children in homeless situations have the opportunity to enroll in, attend, and succeed in school.
THEO can be reached toll-free at: 1-800-446-3142.
Texas Homeless Network
Texas Homeless Network (THN) is a non-profit membership-based organization helping Texas communities prevent and end homelessness.
Texans in need can dial 2-1-1 or visit online to find help locally.
The National Center for Homeless Education
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is the U.S. Department of Education's technical assistance and information center in the area of homeless education.