Special Services Contents » McKinney-Vento (Homeless Students)

McKinney-Vento (Homeless Students)

An Introduction to the Issues

How many people in the United States are homeless?

People experiencing homelessness are not a static group; homelessness is a .revolving-door phenomenon. It is estimated that, over the course of a year, between 2.3 and 3.5 million people will experience homelessness, of which between 900,000 and 1.4 million will be children.


What are the main causes of homelessness?

The main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. While this lack alone is often enough to cause homelessness, when combined with other factors such as low wages, unemployment, domestic violence, illness, mental health issues, and addiction, the risk of experiencing homelessness increases dramatically.

Unaccompanied youth are youth not in the physical custody of a parent of guardian. The primary causes of homelessness among unaccompanied youth are physical or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, neglect, parental substance abuse, and family conflict.


Homelessness: A fringe issue?

Many people view homelessness as a fringe issue, affecting only “certain kinds of people” on the edges of society. This view does not reflect the changing demographics of homelessness in the United States , including a steady rise in homelessness among families with children. Consider the following questions:

  • Could you ever experience a flood, fire, tornado, or other natural disaster?
  • Do you work in an area of the economy where your job might become obsolete?
  • Could you ever suffer from a long-term illness or accident without proper health benefits or other compensations?
  • Do you live in a household with only one full-time wage earner?
  • Are you behind on any monthly bills?
  • Are housing costs in your area increasing faster than wages?
  • Does anyone in your family struggle with addiction or mental illness?
  • Could you ever face extreme financial difficulty without family or close friends available to come to your aid?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not immune to homelessness. These questions are not meant to create alarm, but rather to spread awareness that people experiencing homelessness are people just like us. They desire financial stability and a secure home, but have confronted difficult circumstances without sufficient resources to overcome the situation and remain housed.


Homeless with homework: Challenges faced by homeless students

Children experiencing homelessness face great challenges. High mobility, precarious living conditions, and poverty combine to present significant educational, health and emotional difficulties. Consider this:

  • At least 20% of homeless children do not attend school.
  • Within a year, 41% of homeless children will attend two different schools;
  • 28% of homeless children will attend three or more different schools.
  • With each change in schools, a student is set back academically by an average of four to six months.
  • Children experiencing homelessness often feel like outsiders and have difficulty maintaining friendships due to frequent moves. Their lives feel out of control, and they often experience anxiety and depression as a result.
  • Many homeless children lack basic school supplies and a reasonable environment in which to do homework.
  • Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness confront these and other challenges associated with homelessness without the support and guidance of a caring adult.

Homeless children are truly among our nation’s neediest and most at risk.



McKinney-Vento: Federal homeless education legislation

During the 1980s, the federal government recognized the magnitude of the problem of homelessness within our country and, more specifically, the increasing incidences of homelessness among families with children and unaccompanied youth. To address this issue, Congress passed the Stewart B. McKinney Act, reauthorized most recently as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This act guarantees homeless children and youth the following:

  • The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
  • The right to attend their school of origin if it is in their best interest to do so.
  • The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent.
  • The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
  • The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student’s status as homeless is strictly prohibited.
  • The posting of homeless students. rights in all schools and other places around the community.

While having the opportunity to enroll and succeed in school may seem like a given to many of us, the McKinney-Vento Act was enacted due to the numerous barriers homeless children faced in obtaining a free, appropriate public education. It is the mission of the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) and its partners to create public awareness of the rights of homeless children and youth and to ensure compliance with the law at the state and local levels.



(From OSPI website)



The linked websites are for information only. Inclusion of this information on the District's website should not be construed as an endorsement of the information provided.


Washington State Homeless Liaison Directory (A Directory maintained by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)) 
The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions on the Educational Rights of Children and Youth in Homeless Situations (PDF) 
Dispute Resolution Policy for the enrollment of Homeless Children and Youths (Word) 
Homelessness: An Introduction to the Issues (PDF)


National Partners in Homeless Education: 

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) 
NCHE, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a national resource center, providing valuable information, training, and materials to educators and community members seeking to address the educational needs of homeless children and their families. These materials are made available to the public at no charge and include such items as educational rights posters, parent packs, training resources, and “law into practice” briefs.
Contact: Diana Bowman, Director, 800-755-3277, dbowman@serve.org 

U.S. Department of Education, Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program 
The Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program oversees the education of homeless children and youth in our nation’s public schools, including the granting of McKinney-Vento funds and the monitoring of their usage. Program Coordinator Gary Rutkin, working with other Department officials and national partners, provides official guidance to states and school districts on implementing the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Contact: Gary Rutkin, Coordinator, 202-260-4412, rutkin@ed.gov

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) 
NAEHCY, a national grassroots membership association, serves as the voice and the social conscience for the education of children and youth in homeless situations. NAEHCY brings together educators, parents, advocates, researchers and service providers to ensure school enrollment and attendance, and overall success for children and youth experiencing homelessness. NAEHCY accomplishes this through advocacy, partnerships and education. NAEHCY also hosts an annual national conference on homeless education, which brings together educators and service providers to learn about new developments within the field.
Contact: Patricia Popp, President, 757-221-7776, ppopp@naehcy.org

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) 
The mission of NLCHP is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end
homelessness. To achieve its mission, the Law Center pursues three main strategies: impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. The Law Center strives to place homelessness in the larger context of poverty. By taking this approach, the Law Center aims to address homelessness as a very visible manifestation of deeper causes: the shortage of affordable housing, insufficient income, and inadequate social services. NLCHP provides guidance and produces high-quality publications on legal issues pertaining to homelessness and poverty.
Contact: Joy Moses, Education Staff Attorney, 202-638-2535, jmoses@nlchp.org

The National Network for Youth (NNY) 
The National Network for Youth is the leading advocacy organization for runaway and homeless youth. NNY seeks to promote opportunities for growth and development for youth who face greater odds due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and disconnection from family, lack of resources, discrimination, differing abilities, or other life challenges. NNY achieves this through advocacy on national policy related to at-risk youth and the provision of training, technical assistance, consultation services, and publications on the issue of supporting and protecting at-risk youth. 
Contact: Mishaela Duran, Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs, 202-783-7949 x3109, mduran@nn4youth.org

YWCA 509-248-7796
Noah’s Ark Homeless Shelter 509-877-6337
Union Gospel Mission 509-248-4510
United way of Central Washington 509-248-1557
Rod’s House 509-895-2665
Sunrise Outreach Center 509-225-9310
OIC of Washington 509-248-6751
Yakima Valley Partner Habitat for Human 509-453-8077
Camp Hope 509-424-1228
OIC Community Services 509-452-7145
The Depot @ Yakima Neighborhood Health Services 509-249-6232
TeamChild 509-573-4993
Salvation Army 509-453-3721
Catholic Charities of Yakima 509-965-7100
Yakima Housing Authorities 509-453-3106
Casey Family Program 509-457-8197
Catholic Charities Housing Services Yakima 509-853-2800
The Olde Lighthouse Shoppe 509-248-9207
Love Inc of Yakima 509-453-2942
Department Social & Health Services 509-225-6556
Catholic Diocese of Yakima 509-965-7117
Catholic Charities East Yakima 509-853-1300
Birth Right 509-248-9783


Homeless Youth Education Contacts



District Homeless Contact: Lucas Jaeger


e-mail: jaegerL@wvsd208.org
Phone: 509 972 5562
Fax: 509 965 2127


1000 South 72nd Ave
Yakima, WA 98908



ESD Contact:


Marlene Gonzalez
ESD 105, Homeless Youth Outreach Specialist
33 South 2nd Ave
Yakima, WA
Phone: 509 454 5319
e-mail: gonzalez@esd105.org



OSPI Contact:


Melinda Dyer
Student &Support Operations
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
PO Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Phone: 360.725.6505
e-mail: dyer@k12.wa.us