Key Amendments to McKinney-Vento Act Take Effect October 1

October 1st marks the date when a number of new provisions to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, take effect. These new provisions strengthen the ability of children and youth experiencing homelessness to enroll, attend, and succeed in school. They also require even closer collaboration between state and local educational agencies and the homelessness services system across communities and states. To help you do that work, we will be publishing a series of brief profiles throughout the month of October of communities that are using innovative collaborative practices to increase the housing stability and school attendance of children and youth and driving progress locally to end homelessness among children, youth, and families.

The need for action is urgent: Public schools identified 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness during the 2013–14 school year, including students who are sharing the housing of other people due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, or living in hotels/motels due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations. That’s a 7% increase compared to the previous year and a 100% increase since 2007. Children and youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability are less likely to be academically successful, and less likely to graduate from high school and make it to and through college.

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, state departments of education and public school districts, (or state and local educational agencies (SEAs/LEAs) must ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youth. SEAs and LEAs must review and take steps to revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the identification, enrollment, attendance, or success in school of children or youth experiencing homelessness.

Additionally, every SEA must designate an Office of Coordinator and every LEA must designate a local liaison to help children and youth experiencing homelessness enroll and succeed in school.  

The ESSA amends a number of key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act effective on October 1, 2016.  Key highlights of these changes include:

  • There is greater emphasis on identifying children and youth experiencing homelessness, including requirements that SEAs and LEAs provide training and professional development opportunities for staff to ensure that state coordinators and local liaisons are able to carry out their duties effectively.
  • Barriers must be removed so that children and youth experiencing homelessness who meet relevant eligibility criteria can access academic and extracurricular activities, including magnet school, summer school, career and technical education, advanced placement, online learning, and charter school programs.
  • There is a presumption that keeping children and youth experiencing homelessness enrolled in the school of origin is in the child’s or youth’s best interest, except when contrary to the request of the child’s or youth’s parent or guardian, or the youth (in the case of an unaccompanied youth).
  • Dispute resolution procedures can now address eligibility issues, in addition to school selection and enrollment.

More detailed information on requirements under the McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the ESSA, can be found in the Department of Education’s Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program: Non-Regulatory Guidance. You also can contact the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), Department of Education’s federal technical assistance center, with homeless education-related questions. NCHE has its own housing collaboration briefs and for more information on effective strategies for cross-systems collaboration, you can visit HUD’s Housing + ED: Let’s Get Ahead and ED’s interagency initiatives and resources for identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness.We encourage you to familiarize yourselves and your partners with the new ESSA provisions so that you can continue to deepen and strengthen your coordinated community response to homelessness. 

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