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McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act


The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law supporting the educational rights of students who are living in emergency, temporary and/or transitional housing situations maintain academic stability and success. The federal McKinney-Vento Act requires school districts to:

- Ensure educational stability for students in emergency, temporary and/or transitional housing situations.

- Ensure immediate access to school for students in emergency, temporary and/or transitional housing situations. 

- Appoint a liaison for students who are eligible for McKinney-Vento services.

- Make sure that students in emergency, temporary and/or transitional housing situations have access to Title 1 services.

Washington State Requirements and Guidance for Education of Homeless Children and Youth

McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act

The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students.

Homeless Student Stability Program

In 2016, the Washington State Legislature passed the Homeless Student Stability and Opportunity Gap Act, to amend state laws related to improving educational outcomes for homeless students through increased identification services, in-school supports, and housing stability. The resulting Homeless Student Stability Program at OSPI complements the Federal McKinney-Vento program, providing additional support and resources for districts.

Defining Homeless

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children as "individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." The act provides examples of children who would fall under this definition:

  • Children and youth sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason
  • Children and youth living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations
  • Children and youth living in emergency or transitional shelters
  • Children and youth abandoned in hospitals
  • Children and youth whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc)
  • Children and youth living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
  • Migratory children and youth living in any of the above situations

The U.S. Department of Education has issued its Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
Non-Regulatory Guidance | Fact Sheet

Washington's Role
The McKinney-Vento Act provides grant funding to states and, in return, states are bound by the terms of the act. Washington receives approximately $950,000 in funding each year from the U.S. Department of Education to support the education of homeless students in school programs. OSPI, as the state educational agency, designates a statewide Education of Homeless Children and Youth Coordinator to review policies and create procedures, including dispute resolution procedures, to ensure that homeless children and youth are able to attend school.

Additional grant funding is provided through the Homeless Student Stability Program which provided $830,000 in grant funding during the 2018/2019 school year.

Grants to districts are available on a competitive basis, based on need as well as quality of proposal (per state and federal rules).