McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

Who is Homeless?

The Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence as homeless. This includes children and youths who:

  • share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”);
  • live in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • live in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • are abandoned in hospitals;
  • 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;
  • live in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing (e.g., housing that lacks any one of the fundamental utilities, does not have working a kitchen or plumbing, is overcrowded, or infested),  bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.
  • Unaccompanied youth who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

Students whose living situations meet this definition have educational rights and are eligible to receive services under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Every Child Has a Right to Education

The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (McKinney-Vento) program is authorized under Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, most recently re-authorized December 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Education of Homeless Children and Youth program at SCDE oversees the federal McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth program. The program provides training, technical assistance, and monitoring, as well as competitive federal funding to support school district McKinney-Vento programs. South Carolina school districts identified 14,360 McKinney-Vento Students during the 2015–16 academic year.

The McKinney-Vento Program is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under this program, the SCDE 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.

Homeless children and youth must have access to the educational and other services that they need to enable them to meet the same challenging State student academic achievement standards to which all students are held. In addition, homeless students may not be separated from the mainstream school environment based solely on the fact that they are experiencing homelessness.