Equitable Reminders in Serving Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Please visit the for resources related to homeless students' rights to enroll and participate fully in school.

Rights and Protection Reminders:

Local educational agencies (LEAs) must insure that children and youth experiencing homelessness are able to participate fully in school activities, and that barriers to identification, enrollment, and retention in school are identified and removed. Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to:

  1. Immediate Enrollment: No matter the documentation.
  2. Transportation: LEAs should continue providing transportation support as needed to eliminate barriers to enrollment, participation and retention in school, including to pick up meals or distance learning items.
  3. Academic Access and Success: This includes free meals, and all other academic supports afforded to their housed peers and more.
  4. Please make sure to contact your local LEA or county Liaison on the web page. You can also contact one of our State Coordinators:
    Leanne Wheeler: lwheeler@cde.ca.gov
    Heidi Brahms: hbrahms@cde.ca.gov
    Karmina Barrales: kbarrales@cde.ca.gov

McKinney-Vento Act

The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in January 2002, protects the educational rights of children and youths experiencing homelessness. The intent of the law is to make certain that homeless students have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education—including a public preschool education—that is provided to other students. Homeless students have the right to enroll in and attend school, participate fully in the school program, and have the opportunity to meet the same challenging academic achievement standards to which all students are held.

Definition of Homeless Children and Youths

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youths as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence. This definition also includes:

  • Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
  • Children and youths who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or shelters.
  • Children and youths who have a primary night time residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
  • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.

Educational Rights Posters

  • Parent Information - |
  • Student Information - |

Support Resources 

Mary McGrath

Executive Director, Safe and Supportive Schools

Email: mmcgrath@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5425

Leanne Wheeler

State Homeless Liaison, California Department of Education

Email: lwheeler@cde.ca.gov

Phone: (916) 319-0383