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March 2015Vol. 16, No. 2Promoting Educational Success for Homeless Students

According to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, nearly 3 million children live in households without a biological parent. While some of these children's living situations may fall under the definition of permanent housing, others may actually meet the definition for "homeless children/youth." Research has shown that children in nonparental care face a number of potential risks that may greatly impact their emotional, behavioral, and educational development.

Students Living With Caregivers: Tips for Local Liaisons and School Personnel, by the National Center for Homeless Education, highlights the link between parent-child separation and negative outcomes. The tip sheet offers practical information to assist local liaisons and school officials in the provision of necessary support services for eligible homeless children under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

In particular, this brief focuses on some key considerations in determining eligibility for
McKinney-Vento programs:

  • Nature of the relationship between the child and caregiver
  • Length of time the child is expected to stay with the caregiver
  • Alternative living arrangement for the child if not staying with this caregiver
  • Suitability of living conditions
  • Reason for the child's move
  • Definitions of the terms "homeless" and "unaccompanied"

Some of the other relevant areas of the McKinney-Vento Act examined in this article include:

  • Overcoming barriers to enrolling a child in school due to lack of legal documentation
  • Transportation to and from school of origin
  • Caregiver participation in educational decisions
  • Ensuring rights and protection to students with disabilities
  • Linking caregivers to supportive services
  • Transitioning to higher education

The authors conclude that the provision of necessary supports to students and their caregivers can lead to successful outcomes in and outside the classroom. Students Living With Caregivers: Tips for Local Liaisons and School Personnel is available on the National Center for Homeless Education website at (856 KB).