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McKinney-Vento Act

CSS McKinney-Vento Liaison: Ms. Rebecca Hines 


State Coordinator: Lisa Phillips:

Definition of McKinney-Vento Act:

42 USC § 11431 – STATEMENT OF POLICY the following is the policy of the Congress:


(1) Each State educational agency shall ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.

(2) In any State that has a compulsory residency requirement as a component of the State’s compulsory school attendance laws or other laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths, the State will review and undertake steps to revise such laws, regulations, practices, or policies to ensure that homeless children and youths are afforded the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths.

(3) Homelessness alone is not sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment.

(4) Homeless children and youths should have access to the education and other services that such children and youths need to ensure that such children and youths have an opportunity to meet the same challenging State student academic achievement standards to which all students are held.

Eligibility under McKinney-Vento

Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:

  • ​Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason

  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations

  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters

  • Awaiting foster care placement **

  • Living in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings

  • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings

  • Migratory children living in the above circumstances

  • Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances​

**Phasing out of the definition of homeless as a result of ESSA amendments to McKinney-Vento

Parent/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Rights:

Unaccompanied homeless youth are ensured the same educational rights that the McKinney-Vento Act provides for other homeless students, which include the right to:

  • ​Enroll immediately, even if they do not currently have paperwork normally required for enrollment

  • Attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, with the placement decision based on the student’s best interest

  • Remain in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the student becomes permanently housed

  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin

  • Receive educational services, such as free school meals, Title I services; and participate in gifted and talented programs, vocational education, alternative education, and any other services comparable to what housed students receive

  • Not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless​

In addition to the provisions that apply to all homeless students, the McKinney-Vento Act includes the following provisions specifically for unaccompanied homeless youth:

  • Unaccompanied homeless youth shall be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship

  • During a dispute over school selection or enrollment, unaccompanied homeless youth shall receive a written statement explaining the school’s decision, the youth’s right to appeal the decision, and a referral to the local liaison.

Local liaisons shall assist unaccompanied homeless youth in:

  • Selecting a school of attendance and enrolling in school

  • Requesting transportation to and from the school of origin

  • Enrolling in school immediately while disputes are resolved​

For more information please visit: NCHEP Profile web page (

Community Collaboration 

One of the many important roles the Liaison fills is building relationships with the community and local organizations. These relationships will often prove crucial when a family needs access to services and resources to meet basic needs. Some places to start may include: 

  • community food pantries 

  • local health services and professionals like dental, health, and mental health needs 

  • local Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United Way, Salvation Army, and other shelter providers; 

  • faith-based organizations; and 

  • local businesses or organizations involved in community service.  

Dispute Resolution 

The following steps and procedures should take place in resolving disputes regarding enrollment, school placement, or services. 


A complaint is an oral or written and signed statement alleging the violation of a federal or state law, rule, or regulation. The complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one (1) year prior to the date that the complaint is received, unless a longer period is reasonable because the violation is considered systemic or ongoing. Parents, teachers, administrators, or other concerned individuals or organizations may file a complaint (“Complainant”). Faculty and staff with knowledge of a complaint must refer the Complainant to the Liaison. The Complainant may submit the complaint in writing to the Liaison, using the attached Complaint Resolution Initiation Form. The Complainant may choose to initiate the complaint orally. 

Role of School 

  • Immediately enroll the child in the school preferred by the person(s) bringing the complaint. 

  • Provide all educational services for which the child is eligible, pending resolution of the dispute. 

Role of Liaison 

  • After receipt of the complaint, the Liaison must provide a written explanation of the school placement decision and/or provided services to the Complainant and discuss the complaint with the Complainant. The Liaison must provide a written proposed resolution or a plan of action to the Complainant within five (5) days of receipt of the complaint, or within seven (7) business days of notification of dispute (Georgia only). 

  • If the Liaison does not resolve the dispute, the Complainant may forward it to the school principal. 

  • The Liaison must provide a written resolution to the parties within five (5) days of the discussion with the principal, or within ten (10) business days of the second dispute (Georgia only). The Complainant has a right to obtain assistance from advocates or attorneys in addressing a complaint

  • The Liaison will carry out the dispute resolution in an expeditious manner and will provide the. Complainant these written procedures, including the appeal procedures outlined below. 

  • In the event the school is unable to resolve the complaint, the Complainant may pursue the applicable appeal procedure(s). 


Appeal Procedures – North Carolina


If the dispute is not resolved at the school level, the Complainant may direct the complaint, orally or written, to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 


Address the complaint to the following address: 

State Coordinator for Homeless Education, National Center for Homeless Education, SERVE Center at UNCG, 5900 Summit Avenue, Ste. 201, Browns Summit, NC 27214. 

The complaint should include: 

  • the name, address, and telephone number of the person filing the appeal; 

  • the relationship or connection of the person to the child in question; 

  • the name and age of the child involved; 

  • the name of the school and school personnel involved in the complaint; 

  • the federal requirement alleged to have been violated; a description of the situation that prompted the complaint; 

  • a description of the attempts that were made to solve the issue; 

  • supporting documentation; and 

  • the relief the person is seeking. 

The Liaison will provide the State Homeless Coordinator with any information that the State Homeless Coordinator requests regarding the issues presented in the appeal. 


The State Homeless Coordinator will provide the school and the Complainant the opportunity to respond to any decision made and to provide any additional evidence the Complainant deems relevant. 


Within 10 school days following receipt of the complete appeal, the State Coordinator shall issue a final written decision to the school and the Complainant. 


The Liaison will provide the Complainant an acknowledgement of receipt of the Form Petition and will transmit the Form Petition g the school and receiving transportation services until the Commissioner issues an appeal decision. 


Professional Development 

Liaison Training 

Since ESSA took effect, many states now require Homeless Liaisons to complete training and have a certificate of completion on file. While NHA provides staff training on homeless awareness through OnCourse, the Homeless Liaison at each school should complete the state specific training available and the NCHE Webinars. 

Start Professional Development 

Homeless Liaisons have a huge role helping so many families and students, but identification of homeless students should not rest on the Liaison alone. All staff at your school may be trained on how to identify homeless students and how to notify the Homeless Liaison of potential homeless students. Federal and state legislation require the Homeless Liaison to conduct staff trainings on these topics annually. This can be accomplished at a staff meeting and documentation such as the agenda or any sign in sheets should be kept as evidence for potential audits. Be sure to take advantage of the readily available presentations located on the NCHE site, or reach out to your State Coordinator for additional resources. 

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