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Archived Homeless List Serve Messages

SUBJECT:  Identification of Homeless Students


Recently, I have received questions concerning the identification of McKinney-Vento eligible students.  More specifically about whom and when homeless eligibility is determined.  This email is intended to clarify information surrounding that topic. 

The McKinney-Vento Act requires Liaisons to ensure that homeless children and youth are identified by school personnel and through coordination activities with other entities and agencies.  In addition, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires child find activities specifically targeted to ensure that all homeless children and youth with disabilities are identified and served.  As a Homeless Liaison, your primary task under the Act is to make decisions based on the best interest of the child and the wishes of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth. 

What are the responsibilities of the “receiving” district (school district into which a homeless family has relocated) regarding notification, documentation, etc.?

The McKinney-Vento Act includes specific references to when a student transfers from a previous school to a new “receiving school”, and also includes general responsibilities that would be true for any school or school district serving a McKinney-Vento student.


In addition to the above, the receiving district would be responsible for providing McKinney-Vento eligible students with the full battery of services provided for under the McKinney-Vento Act.  The determination of eligibility is made on a case-by-case basis.  In some cases, identification may be made by the school of origin or it may be made by the school of residency.  Expeditious determination of eligibility and immediate school enrollment are critical to the child’s educational continuity.  Making a determination of eligibility may involve collaboration between the school of origin and the school of residency.

Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, as amended, Title VII, Subtitle B; 42 U.S.C. 11431-11435:


McKinney-Vento Act Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program Definition of “Homeless”:

                A. lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and

                B. includes--

i. children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

ii. children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));

iii. children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.

The first category may include some individuals who have moved in with others, and consideration of each individual case, along with the permanency of the situation, will probably be needed in order to identify those who are homeless.

In addition, in 1995, the U.S. Department of Education issued non-regulatory guidance, which included the following:

• Children in foster care should not be considered homeless unless they are temporarily placed in foster care because of lack of shelter space.

• Children who are runaways should be considered homeless even if their parents have provided or are willing to provide a home for them.

• Children who are “throwaway children” should be considered homeless until a fixed, regular, and adequate residence is established for them.

• All abandoned children are homeless until a fixed, regular, and adequate residence is established.

• Children who live with friends or relatives because of loss of housing or other similar situation should be considered homeless.

• Children living in “doubled up” families may be considered homeless if the family is doubled up or tripled up because of loss of housing or a similar situation.

• School aged, unwed mothers or mother-to-be who resides in a home for unwed mothers should be considered homeless if they have no other available living accommodations.

• Migrant children should not be considered homeless unless they meet the definition in the McKinney Act.

Making eligibility determinations is often difficult.  To help, there are several resources available on the DESE website:

Title X, Part C McKinney-Vento Confidential Referral Form:


School Selection Checklist:



If you have questions concerning eligibility, please feel free to contact me.

Donna Cash
Supervisor, Federal Compliance
Coordinator, McKinney-Vento Program
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
P.O. Box 480, 205 Jefferson Street
Jefferson City, MO  65102-0480
Office:  573-522-8763  Fax:  573-526-6698

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