Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do school districts have the responsibility of identifying and locating children and youth experiencing homelessness?
A. Yes. The McKinney-Vento Act requires that homeless children and youth are identified by school personnel and through the coordination with other entities and agencies.
Q. Is there a specific time limit on how long a child or youth is considered homeless?
A. No, there is no specific time limit. However, eligibility for services is a case-specific inquiry and the Liaison for homeless children and youth will evaluate each individual circumstance annually to determine if a hardship exists.
Q. What ages does the McKinney-Vento Act cover?
A. The Act applies to children and youth age 21 and under, consistent with their eligibility for public education services under state and federal law.
Q. Are children in foster care covered by the McKinney-Vento Act?
A. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) removed "awaiting foster care placement" from the definition of homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. Children and youth awaiting foster placement are not considered homeless, unless they meet other definitions under McKinney-Vento. The Fostering Connections Act requires collaboration between state, local educational agencies and child welfare agencies to ensure educational stability for children in foster care.
Q. Are migrant and immigrant students covered by the McKinney-Vento Act?
A. Yes, migrant and immigrant students are covered if they are living in a homeless situation.
Q. Can a student finish the school year or semester in the school of origin?
A. Yes. Students have the right to remain in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness. If a student moves into permanent housing during the year, the student can finish that academic year in the school of origin.
Q. How "immediate" is immediate enrollment?
A. McKinney-Vento requires schools to enroll students and allow full participation without delay, even if the student lacks the required documentation.
Q. Can schools require verification of proof of residency, such as seeing a lease in the case where a family is hosting a student who is not a member of the family?
A. No. Schools may not require verification of proof of residency as a condition of enrollment.
Q. Under what circumstances must a school district provide transportation to school for students experiencing homelessness?
A. The Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act states that parents can be asked to make a good faith effort to transport students when the request is made to remain in the school of origin. However, districts must provide transportation upon the request of a parent or guardian or in the case of an unaccompanied youth.
Q. Does the McKinney-Vento Act address preschool?
A. Yes. The Act clearly and specifically includes preschool programs within its definition of free, appropriate public education.
Q. Must schools enroll youth in school without proof of guardianship?
A. Yes. Lack of guardianship cannot delay or prevent enrollment of an unaccompanied youth.
Q. Do special education laws explicitly refer to students experiencing homelessness?
A. Yes. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains several provisions specific to children in homeless situations.
Q. Is a procedure in place if a dispute arises over eligibility, school selection or enrollment?
A. Yes. The child or youth shall be immediately enrolled in the school for which enrollment is sought, pending final resolution, including all appeals. The parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth shall be provided with a written explanation of any decisions related to the dispute made by the school, local educational agency, or State educational agency involved, including the right to appeal such decisions.
Q. Are there procedures in place to prevent families who have permanent housing from claiming to be homeless just to obtain McKinney-Vento services?
A. Yes. The Liaison must identify those meeting the statutory definition of homeless and districts should enroll immediately. However, if after enrollment it is determined that a student is not homeless as defined by law, school districts should follow the policies that are in place to address other forms of fraud.