The McKinney-Vento Law was enacted in 1987 to remove common barriers children and youth experiencing homelessness often encountered from being unhoused. In order to ensure students have the best possible outcomes, it is critical for them to have access to all of the services and supports that are available in school. Homelessness can be broken down into four categories: Chronic, Episodic, Transitional, and Hidden.
The Federal definition of a chronically homeless individual describes them as either "an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition" who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had a minimum of four episodes of homelessness in the previous three years. Based on the most recent data , on any given night there are roughly 86,962 chronically homeless individuals in the U.S., representing 24% of the total homeless population. Typically, these individuals are older, have complex, long-term health issues and often live on the street, in a car, park, or other location that is not suitable for human habitation.
Episodic homelessness refers to individuals who are currently homeless and have experienced at least three periods of homelessness in the previous year. These individuals are often younger and suffer from some type of disabling condition, such as substance abuse, mental illness, and/or medical problems.
Transitional homelessness is actually the most common type of homelessness. These individuals are also likely to be younger and generally enter a shelter or temporary housing system for only one brief stay. This situation could be the result of a catastrophic event or sudden life change.
The fourth type of homelessness that often goes unreported and undocumented is known as 'hidden homelessness.' This specifically refers to individuals temporarily living with others (or 'couch-surfing') without a guarantee that they will be able to stay long-term and without immediate prospects for acquiring permanent housing. This often describes people staying with friends or relatives because they lack other housing opportunities. This population is considered 'hidden' because they do not access homeless supports and services, despite their need for them. For this reason, they do not appear in standard homelessness statistics.
Participation in school includes many elements such as immunization records, medical care, transportation, technology, fees for courses, extra-curricular activities, summer learning and engagement programs, uniforms, field trips, among other things. Many times student outcomes would be negatively impacted due to issues that arise from experiencing homelessness. The State of Nevada has strong commitment to ensuring that the children and youth experiencing homelessness are afforded the opportunity to thrive and have a promising future.
Definition of Homeless
Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (per Title IX, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act) defines homeless as follows:
The term "homeless children and youths"--
(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); and
(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; or are abandoned in hospitals;*
(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; and
(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).
Educational Rights and Supporting Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- McKinney-Vento Act requires youth experiencing homelessness must be immediately enrolled with or without academic and non-academic student information/records, e.g. health, residency, special education, or guardianship
- McKinney-Vento supports youth experiencing homelessness with, clothing, transportations, dues/fees to participate in clubs/after-school activities, and other situational academic needs
- Establish and maintain multiple modes of communication and access to students, phone/text, email, face-to-face, trusted classmate, community based/out-of-school organizations, and other adults/teachers
- Statewide collaboration – State Education Agency (SEA), Local Education Agency (LEA), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and homeless advocates meet, share information, inform/collaborate on policies and procedures, support/develop leadership opportunities for students, destigmatize homelessness, and other efforts that proactively address youth homelessness
- Collect, analyze, and interpret academic and non-academic data to inform proactive planning, strategies, and policies to maximize current, and build new, systems of support for youth experiencing homelessness