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Resources to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness


Many Vermont families were significantly impacted by the July 10-11 flooding and subsequent weather events. As a result, the State is expecting an increase in the number of students and families experiencing homelessness. The U.S. Department of Education, through the McKinney-Vento Act, provides a broad definition of “homelessness” for students, one that encompasses precariously housed or students who have been displaced by the July 2023 flooding event. These students have specific rights under this definition, and SU/SDs are both obligated and authorized to meet student and family needs in a variety of ways.   

In addition, we anticipate an increase in students and families who may not be displaced from their homes but will still experience difficult, unsafe, or inadequate living conditions. For example, families who returned home to mold, a heating system that needs to be replaced, or is lacking other basic utilities (for example, no running water, no functional kitchen, etc.) To better prepare our Vermont schools and districts for such impacts, we have provided information below about McKinney-Vento and other funding sources which can be used to support students and families experiencing these needs.   

Much of the information on this page was also issued in a June 23, 2023 memo from interim Secretary Bouchey: Resources to Support Homeless Students

McKinney-Vento Definition of Homeless   

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (42 U.S.C.§11434a(2)) defines “homeless children and youth” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The definition includes 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. 
  • Are abandoned in hospitals. 
  • Have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not normally used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. 
  • Are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings. 
  • Are migratory and qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described in the above situations. 

Not every student who appears to be unhoused will be eligible for McKinney-Vento services. Some students who may appear to have housing (e.g., “a roof over their heads”) will qualify and are entitled to educational rights and services under the McKinney-Vento Act.   

LEA Homeless Liaisons (see below for contact information) will make McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations for students who may be experiencing homelessness. McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations follow the school year. When a student has been determined eligible by the Homeless Liaison, they are eligible for all McKinney-Vento rights and services until the end of the academic year, even if they secure permanent housing.   

Educational Rights of Students Experiencing Homelessness  

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act guarantees educational rights and support for students who meet the definition of homeless. In general, McKinney-Vento eligible students have a right to:  

  • Equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschool education, as is provided to other children and youth. 
  • Immediate enrollment, even when records normally required for enrollment are not present. 
  • This includes the right for unaccompanied youth (homeless youth who are not in the physical custody of their parent/guardian) to be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship. 
  • Full participation in school and all school activities. 
  • To remain in the school of origin, if it is in the student’s best interest, in order to maintain educational stability. 
  • School of origin is defined as the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled. 
  • Transportation, provided by the LEA, to and from the school of origin at the request of the parent or the homeless liaison (in the case of an unaccompanied youth), if needed. 
  • Provision of services comparable to services offered to other students in the school, including Title I services or similar State or local programs, educational programs for children with disabilities, and educational programs for English learners; career and technical education; programs for gifted and talented students; and school nutrition programs. 
  • Access all educational and related services for which they are eligible, including services through Head Start programs, early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and other preschool programs administered by the local educational agency. 

Funding: Title IA Homeless Set Aside Allowable Uses 

Title I, Part A funds may be used to provide a wide variety of services to homeless students. In addition to providing services to assist homeless students in meeting the State’s challenging academic standards, Title I, Part A funds may be used to provide services to homeless children and youths that may not ordinarily be provided to other Title I students, including but not limited to:   

  • Items of clothing, particularly if necessary to meet a school’s dress or uniform requirement 
  • Clothing and shoes necessary to participate in physical education classes 
  • Student fees that are necessary to participate in the general education program 
  • Personal school supplies such as backpacks and notebooks 
  • Birth certificates necessary to enroll in school 
  • Immunizations 
  • Food 
  • Medical and dental services 
  • Eyeglasses and hearing aids 
  • Counseling services to address anxiety related to homelessness that is impeding learning 
  • Outreach services to students living in shelters, motels, and other temporary residences 
  • Extended learning time (before and after school, Saturday classes, summer school) to compensate for lack of quiet time for homework in shelters or other overcrowded living conditions 
  • Tutoring services, especially in shelters or other locations where homeless students live 
  • Parental involvement specifically oriented to reaching out to parents of homeless students 
  • Fees for AP and IB testing 
  • Fees for college entrance exams such as SAT or ACT 
  • GED testing for school-age students 

Services must be reasonable and necessary to assist homeless students to take advantage of educational opportunities and Title I, Part A funds must be used only when funds or services are not available from other public or private sources (for example, USDA’s National School Lunch Program and Breakfast Program, public health clinics, or local discretionary funds (sometimes provided by the PTA) used to provide similar services for economically disadvantaged students generally). 

See below for additional information about funding that may be available to support students experiencing homelessness. 

Contact Information and Resources  

  • Every local educational agency (LEA) has a designated Homeless Liaison to facilitate the identification, enrollment, and attendance of and services to students experiencing homelessness. The Liaison Contact List provides contact information for the liaisons in each Supervisory Union/School District.   
  • The State Coordinator for Homeless Education is Katy Preston, or 802-828-1468.   
  • For questions about the end of the AHS Pandemic-Era Emergency Housing Program, please contact the local AHS Field Services Director.  


Additional Funding Guidance: McKinney-Vento Grant,* ARP Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Grants* Allowable Uses 

*Available to LEAs who applied for and received this funding - confirm with your business office if unsure. 

McKinney-Vento Grant Allowable Uses

  • Tutoring, supplemental instruction, and/or enriched educational services that are linked to the achievement of the same challenging State academic standards the State establishes for other children and youths.  
  • Expedited evaluations of the strengths and needs of homeless children and youths, including needs and eligibility for programs and services (e.g., programs for gifted and talented students, children with disabilities, English learners, career and technical education, school nutrition, Title IA services).  
  • Professional development and other activities for educators and specialized instructional support personnel that are designed to heighten the understanding and sensitivity of such personnel to the needs and rights of students experiencing homelessness and the specific educational needs of runaway and homeless youths.  
  • The provision of referral services to homeless children and youths for medical, dental, mental, and other health services.  
  • Assistance to defray the excess cost of transportation, not otherwise provided through Federal, State, or local funding, where necessary to enable students to attend the school selected (e.g., excess transportation to enable a student to attend school of origin) 
  • Developmentally appropriate early childhood education programs, not otherwise provided through Federal, State, or local funding, for preschool-aged homeless children.  
  • Services and assistance to attract, engage, and retain homeless children and youths, particularly homeless children and youths who are not enrolled in school, in public school programs and services provided to non-homeless children and youths.  
  • Before- and after-school, mentoring, and summer programs in which a teacher or other qualified individual provides tutoring, homework assistance, and supervision of educational activities.  
  • Payment of fees/other costs associated with tracking, obtaining, and transferring records necessary to enroll homeless children and youths in school, including birth certificates, immunization or other required health records, academic records, guardianship records, and evaluations for special programs or services.  
  • Education and training for parents/guardians of homeless children and youths about the rights of, and resources available to, their children and other activities designed to increase the meaningful involvement of parents and guardians of homeless children and youths in the education of their children.  
  • Development of coordination between schools and agencies providing services to homeless children and youths (e.g., local social services agencies). 
  • Specialized instructional support services (including violence prevention counseling) and referrals for such services.  
  • Activities to address the particular needs of homeless children and youths that may arise from domestic violence and parental mental health or substance abuse problems.  
  • The adaptation of space and purchase of supplies for non-school facilities serving eligible students in order to provide services.  
  • School supplies, including those supplies to be distributed at shelters or temporary housing facilities, or other appropriate locations.  
  • The provision of other extraordinary or emergency assistance needed to enable homeless children and youths to attend school and participate fully in school activities.   

American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Allowable Uses 

Any of the 16 uses authorized under the McKinney-Vento Act (allowable uses of the McKinney-Vento Grant), as well as:  

  • Providing wraparound services (which could be provided in collaboration with and/or through contracts with community-based organizations, and could include academic supports, trauma-informed care, social-emotional support, and mental health services);  
  • Purchasing needed supplies (e.g., PPE, eyeglasses, school supplies, personal care items);  
  • Providing transportation to enable children and youth to attend classes and participate fully in school activities;  
  • Purchasing cell phones or other technological devices for unaccompanied youth to enable the youth to attend and fully participate in school activities;  
  • Providing access to reliable, high-speed internet for students through the purchase of internet-connected devices/equipment, mobile hotspots, wireless service plans, or installation of Community Wi-Fi Hotspots (e.g., at homeless shelters), especially in underserved communities;  
  • Paying for short-term, temporary housing (e.g., a few days in a motel) when such emergency housing is the only reasonable option for COVID-safe temporary housing and when necessary to enable the homeless child or youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities (including summer school)