McKinney-Vento Education Program for Homeless Children and Youth

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which was signed into law in 1987, required states to review and revise residency requirements for the enrollment of homeless children and youth to address the challenges that they face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school.

This particularly vulnerable population of children has steadily increased over the years. According to Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program data, national estimates from the 2006-07 school year to the 2013-14 school year show the total number of homeless children and youths doubling from 679,724 to 1,301,239 students. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, state educational agencies (SEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as other children and youths. Homeless children and youths must have access to the educational and related services that they need to enable them to meet the same challenging state academic standards to which all students are held. In addition, homeless students may not be separated from the mainstream school environment. SEAs and local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths.

The tenets of the law provide children and youth experiencing homelessness with the following:

  • Immediate enrollment even when records not present;

  • Right to remain in the school of origin, if in the student's best interest;

  • Transportation to the school of origin; and

  • Support for academic success.

Eligibility Definition

Who Are Homeless Children and Youths?

Homeless children and youths are individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:

  • Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;

  • Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

  • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because the children are living in circumstances described above.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Title VII, Subtitle B, Section 725(2)

Questions regarding McKinney-Vento eligibility should be directed to:  

Pheobie Thomas, State Coordinator

New Jersey Department of Education

Office of Supplemental Educational Programs

Telephone: (609) 376-9080

Click here for e-mail

Local McKinney-Vento Liaison:

Jennifer Sowa, Director of Special Services

434 Millburn Ave

Millburn, NJ 07041

973-376-3600 x40164

Parent Rights under McKinney Vento

Your eligible children have the right to:

  • Receive a free, appropriate public education.

  • Enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required

for enrollment.

  • Enroll in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documents.

  • Enroll in the local school; or continue attending their school of origin (the school

they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last

enrolled), if that is your preference.

* If the school district believes that the school you select is not in the best

interest of your children, then the district must provide you with a written

explanation of its position and inform you of your right to appeal its decision.

  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if you request this.

  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students,

according to your children’s needs.

Additional Information and links:

NJ DOE homeless information

Parent Resources National Center for Homeless Education