U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidance on Assisting Homeless Students

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has issued guidance on providing assistance to homeless students through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youths program. The department also points out that homeless students face significant academic and socio-emotional issues, including an increased risk of dropping out of school.

The guidance is designed to help states, districts, and local partners understand the new provisions, which take effect October 1, 2016. Among other changes, the amended McKinney-Vento Act includes new requirements focused on:

  • Identification of homeless children and youths;
  • Making sure that preschool-aged homeless children have access to and receive supportive services;
  • Ensuring coordination with other service providers, including public and private child welfare and social service agencies; law enforcement agencies; juvenile and family courts; agencies providing mental health services; domestic violence agencies; child care providers; runaway and homeless youth centers; providers of services and programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; and providers of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing, including public housing agencies, shelter operators, and operators of transitional housing facilities;
  • Providing professional development and technical assistance at both the State and local levels;
  • Removing enrollment barriers;
  • Providing school stability, including the expansion of school of origin to include preschools and receiving schools and the provision of transportation until the end of the school year, even if a student becomes permanently housed;
  • Protecting privacy of student records, including information about a homeless child or youth’s living situation;
  • Improving the dispute resolution process for decisions relating to the educational placement of homeless children and youths;
  • Increasing the emphasis on college and career readiness; and
  • Establishing a new authority for local liaisons to verify the eligibility of homeless children, youths, and families for HUD homeless assistance programs.

The new guidelines are available here.