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Homeless Education (McKinney-Vento Act)

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which was signed into law in 1987, required states to review and revise residency requirements for the enrollment of homeless children and youth to address the challenges that they face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school.

This particularly vulnerable population of children has steadily increased over the years. According to Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program data, national estimates from the 2006-07 school year to the 2013-14 school year show the total number of homeless children and youths doubling from 679,724 to 1,301,239 students. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, 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 youths. Homeless children and youths must have access to the educational and related services that they need to enable them to meet the same challenging state academic standards to which all students are held. In addition, homeless students may not be separated from the mainstream school environment. SEAs and local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths.

The tenets of the law provide children and youth experiencing homelessness with the following:

  • Immediate enrollment even when records not present

  • Right to remain in the school of origin, if in the student's best interest

  • Transportation to the school of origin

  • Support for academic success

Who Are Homeless Children and Youths?

Homeless children and youths are individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:

  • 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; or are abandoned in hospitals;

  • 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;

  • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because the children are living in circumstances described above.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Title VII, Subtitle B, Section 725(2)

Questions regarding McKinney-Vento eligibility should be directed to:  

Pheobie Thomas, State Coordinator
New Jersey Department of Education
Office of Supplemental Educational Programs
Telephone: (609) 376-9080 

For additional Information

The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program is authorized under Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.) (McKinney-Vento Act). The McKinney-Vento Act was originally authorized in 1987 and was most recently re-authorized in December 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Chapter 17 of the New Jersey Administrative Code - Education for Homeless Students and Students in State Facilities was adopted to ensure that homeless children and students placed in state facilities are provided with a thorough and efficient education. This chapter establishes uniform statewide policies and procedures to ensure the enrollment of homeless children and to respond to appeals made by parents or other parties related to the enrollment of homeless children. The chapter also identifies general program requirements related to the operation, administration, and approval of educational programs in state facilities.

This revised federal non-regulatory guidance for the McKinney-Vento program replaces the July 2004 guidance and includes new questions that reflect both the amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act made by the ESSA, which took effect on October 1, 2016, and the new technical assistance on promising practices for implementing homeless education requirements at the state and local levels. The guidance describes the requirements of the ESSA and provides recommendations for addressing many of those requirements.

Homeless Liaison

Elizabeth Sheridan

Titles: Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Phone Numbers:
School: 973-616-6040