The Homeless Education Program

The mission of the Homeless Education Program is to ensure that homeless children and youth have access to a free, appropriate public education, comparable to that provided to the children of any Arizona resident and consistent with Arizona’s mandatory school attendance laws.

Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.) is included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The reauthorization requires that children and youths experiencing homelessness are immediately enrolled in school and have educational opportunities equal to those of their non-homeless peers. The statute requires every public school district and charter holder to designate a Homeless Liaison to ensure that homeless students are identified and their needs are being met.

In order to supplement services to these children and youths, the U.S. Department of Education provides funding for state and local activities. These dollars are allocated to the local education agencies through a competitive grant process, based on need and program quality.

What is the McKinney-Vento Act?

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  Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth has the most current guidelines.