Students, Families Facing Homelessness

Who is Homeless or Displaced?

In 1987, Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Subtitle B of Title VII of this Act entitled, Education for Homeless Children and Youth, was amended in 2001 as part of No Child Left Behind, Title X, Part C and was amended again in December 2015 for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Under the amendments (Sec. 725), the phrase “homeless children and youths” means individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.

This Basic Education Circular (BEC) explains the categories of children who are "homeless" and entitled to the protections of the federal law. These categories include:

(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; 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;

(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;

(iv) “migratory children” who qualify as homeless under federal law because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii) above. The term "migratory children" means children who are (or whose parent(s) or spouse(s) are) migratory agricultural workers, including migratory dairy workers or migratory fishermen, and who have moved from one school district to another in the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain (or accompany such parents or spouses in order to obtain) temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work; and,

(v) "Unaccompanied homeless youth" including any child who is "not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian." This includes youth who have run away from home, been thrown out of their home, been abandoned by parents or guardians, or separated from their parents for any other reason.

To view the full Basic Education Circular, please click here.


For additional resource regarding assistance for homelessness, please visit the Region 3 website for the Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH) at

McKinney-Vento Contact Information

Ginger Thompson
717-597-3226 x30517