Homeless Students (McKinney-Vento Act)

In 1987, Congress passed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, (subsequently renamed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act) to aid homeless persons. The Act defines the term "homeless children and youths" as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. On December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was enacted, amending McKinney-Vento.

The Basic Education Circular: Education for Homeless Youth 42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq., explains the categories of children who are "homeless" and entitled to the protections of the federal law. These categories include:

  • 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;

  • 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;

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

  • “migratory children” who qualify as homeless under federal law because the children are living in circumstances as described 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,

  • "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.

The McKinney-Vento Act requires that local educational agencies designate an appropriate staff person as a liaison for homeless children and youth. The Homeless Liaison for the South Eastern School District is Dr. Sandra Ness, Director of Pupil Services. She can be reached at (717)382-4843 ext. 6891 or nesss@sesd.k12.pa.us.

Additional services for families experiencing homelessness can be accessed through our district social services coordinators:

Elementary - Miranda DeLauter (717) 382-4851 ext. 3011 or delauterm@sesd.k12.ka.us. Secondary - Jodi Smith (717) 382-4851 ext. 2807 or smithjo@sesd.k12.pa.us

General Guide to Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Basic Education Circular: Education for Homeless Youth