McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as any student “who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” Students and families who meet this definition have the following rights:
If you move into temporary housing, your children can stay in the same school they went to when you had a permanent address or where they were last enrolled (known as the school of origin), OR they can transfer to the school for where you are staying now. This includes public preschool and head start programs. If the school district believes that the school selected is not in your best interest, the district must provide you with a written explanation of its position and inform you of your right to appeal its decision.
You can enroll your children in school without the usually required documents. The school must enroll your children immediately, without immunization forms, guardianship papers, birth certificates, or proof of address. After your children are enrolled, the homeless liaison and school can help you obtain any needed records and paperwork.
If your children stay in their school of origin, they can receive free transportation to and from that school if you request this. This includes pre-school aged students. If you move from temporary to permanent housing during the school year, your children will still get transportation for at least the rest of the school year.
Free Meals and Title I Services
Your children can receive free meals at school. You do not need to fill out any forms about your family’s finances. Students in temporary housing can also receive Title I services including for emergency supplies, counseling, tutoring, etc.
Support from the homeless liaison
Every school district has a homeless liaison. The liaison is a staff person who will help you enroll your child in school and connect you and your family with additional resources and services.
Source: The New York State Technical and Educational Assistance Center for Homeless Students