Education Department Releases Guidance on Homeless Children and Youth

Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Education released guidance to states and school districts on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting homeless youth.

  • The new provisions address the needs of homeless individuals, and ensure educational rights and protections for homeless children and youth
  • The guidance released late July will assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the new law in order to better protect and serve homeless students and help schools in providing these students with much needed stability, safety, and support
  • The guidance was informed by the input of a diverse group of stakeholders to best address the needs of homeless youth

“Homeless children and youth face a number of barriers to getting the education they deserve and the services they need to succeed in school and beyond,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “As a kid, home was a scary and unpredictable place for me and I moved around a lot after my parents passed away. I know from my own experience and from my conversations with homeless students that school can save lives. It is our hope that the guidance we are releasing today will serve as a tool to help states and districts better serve homeless children and youth – we can and we must do better.”

  • During the 2013-14 school year, more than 1.3 million homeless children and youth were enrolled in public schools
  • Research shows that these students experience significant academic, social, and socio-emotional challenges, and that being homeless is associated with lower school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school
  • In addition, students who experience high mobility and attend many different schools over the course of their education often slip academically with each move
  • Recognizing these challenges, this guidance offers technical assistance on promising practices for helping homeless youth through the implementation of homeless education requirements at the State and local levels, focusing particular attention on changes under ESSA

Among other changes, the amended McKinney-Vento Act includes new requirements focused on:

  1. Identification of homeless children and youths;
  2. Making sure that preschool-aged homeless children have access to and receive supportive services;
  3. Ensuring coordination with other service providers, including public and private child welfare and social service agencies; law enforcement agencies; juvenile and family courts; agencies providing mental health services; domestic violence agencies; child care providers; runaway and homeless youth centers; providers of services and programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; and providers of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing, including public housing agencies, shelter operators, and operators of transitional housing facilities;
  4. Providing professional development and technical assistance at both the State and local levels;
  5. Removing enrollment barriers;
  6. Providing school stability, including the expansion of school of origin to include preschools and receiving schools and the provision of transportation until the end of the school year, even if a student becomes permanently housed;
  7. Protecting privacy of student records, including information about a homeless child or youth’s living situation;
  8. Improving the dispute resolution process for decisions relating to the educational placement of homeless children and youths;
  9. Increasing the emphasis on college and career readiness; and
  10. Establishing a new authority for local liaisons to verify the eligibility of homeless children, youths, and families for HUD homeless assistance programs
  • The new guidance in its entirety can be found here. This guidance is part of a series of guidance documents that will be released on the new provisions in ESSA