skip to main content

at Advocates for Children

151 West 30th Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

TEL 800.388.2014
FAX 212.807.6872

PLEASE NOTE: In some cases, certain information on this page may not be current.

Important changes related to McKinney-Vento were included in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). The changes went into effect October 1, 2016, and include: expanded transportation protections until the end of the school year for temporarily housed students who move into permanent housing, the inclusion of preschool in the definition of "school of origin" (children can stay in their school of origin and receive transportation to that school), and changes to the dispute resolution process which include the provision of all McKinney-Vento related services (for example, continued enrollment and transportation) until a final decision is issued. For more information about ESSA changes to the McKinney-Vento Act, see the State Education Department's Field Memo regarding Implementation of Changes to McKinney-Vento Homeless Act as a Result of Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act.

Please continue to check here for updated information about how new laws will impact policies and procedures in New York State, and as always, feel free to contact NYS-TEACHS at 800-388-2014 with any questions you may have.

Unaccompanied Youth

An unaccompanied youth is a student who is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian; this includes youth who have run away from home, been kicked out of their homes, or been abandoned by parents. There is no age restriction on unaccompanied youth, but these students are generally adolescents. Such students are covered under the McKinney-Vento Act when the student also lacks a fixed, adequate and regular nighttime residence. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a (2). Without a parent or guardian to advocate on behalf of unaccompanied youth, these students may not understand their educational rights or know how to acquire information they need. Liaisons are expected to make extra effort to help connect unaccompanied youth with the supports and services they may need.

Do unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness need their parents in order to enroll in school?

No. Unaccompanied youth may enroll in school by themselves, or with assistance from another adult. If another adult accompanies the youth, the lack of guardianship papers cannot delay or prevent the enrollment of an unaccompanied youth. 42 U.S.C. §11432 (g)(3)(C); N.Y. Educ. Law § 3209(2-a); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(4).

Who decides where an unaccompanied youth will attend school?

An unaccompanied youth together with the LEA liaison decides where the youth will attend school. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3209(1)(b)& (2)(a); 8 N.Y.C.R.R Section 100.2(x)(1)(ii).

Is a student considered an unaccompanied youth if she is receiving financial support from her parents?

Any student who is not living in the physical custody of her parents, and is temporarily housed, should be considered an unaccompanied, homeless youth. Financial support from parents should have no bearing on a student's designation as an unaccompanied youth if their housing is not fixed, regular, and adequate.

If an unaccompanied youth has left home, but her parents will allow the student back home, might the student still be eligible for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act?

Yes. Many unaccompanied youth flee abuse or neglect in housing situations when a parent or guardian will allow the youth to return, but where the youth may not be able to do so safely. Despite the fact that the youth's parents will allow the student to return home, if the student meets the definition of homeless under McKinney-Vento and is living temporarily in housing with is not fixed, regular, and adequate, the youth is protected under McKinney-Vento.

What is an "emancipated minor"?

For purposes of establishing residency under New York State Educ. Law § 3202, a student is considered emancipated if she is over the age of 16 and under 18, living separate and apart from her parents in a manner inconsistent with parental custody and control, not receiving financial support from her parents, and has no intent to return home. In New York State, there is no such thing as a court declaration of emancipation; there is no legal paperwork necessary to declare oneself an emancipated minor. Students who are married or in the military are considered automatically emancipated; pregnant minors, however, are not automatically considered emancipated. It is important to keep in mind that emancipation usually relieves parents of obligations to their children, depriving the minor of the right to demand food, clothing and shelter from his parents but may not benefit the youth. For this reason, there is no requirement that a youth become "emancipated" to be identified as an unaccompanied youth.

Are all unaccompanied youth automatically eligible for services under McKinney-Vento?

Unaccompanied youth who do not meet the definition of homeless are not necessarily eligible for the same services. For instance, a student who is not living with a parent or guardian but who is permanently housed is not protected under the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 U.S.C. §11433 (c)(3)(d). However, the Act encourages districts that receive sub-grant funds to integrate the services for homeless youth into the general education setting. For example, a district could use these funds to create a tutoring program for at-risk students, which could include services for both homeless and permanently housed students.

What does LGBTQ mean?

LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning. Thousands of LGBTQ youth are forced out onto the streets every year, and they comprise a reported 40% of the total homeless youth population. For more information, please see Homeless LGBT Youth and LGBT Youth in Foster Care, available here.

Can an unaccompanied youth leave out her parents' financial information when filling out a FAFSA form?

Youth do not need to provide information about their parents' financial status if they have been designated as an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth anytime during the school year. Unaccompanied homeless youth are considered to be independent students for college financial aid under section 480 of the Higher Education Act of 1965. 20 U.S.C. § 1087vv. A liaison, director of a Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY), director of a HUD-funded shelter or transitional program can write a letter to the financial aid administrator verifying the student's status as an independent student. Liaisons may also write subsequent year letters of verification for unaccompanied homeless youth for whom they have the necessary information even if the student is no longer enrolled in the LEA. 42 U.S.C. § 11431 (g)(6)(A)(x)(III). For a copy of sample forms that RHY and school providers can use to assist unaccompanied youth pursuing higher education in these situations, please click here.

Does the McKinney-Vento Act cover students seeking to enroll in GED programs?

Sometimes. If the GED program is being offered through the LEA or BOCES, then the McKinney-Vento Act applies to the students in the program.

back to top

Upcoming Workshops and Trainings

Stay tuned for the Summer and Fall 2017 Workshop and Training schedules.

Upcoming Webinars

6/22/17: Changes Regarding the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - Updates to Education Law § 3209 and Commissioner’s Regulations

Stay tuned for the Fall/Winter 2017 Webinar series.

Webinar Schedule

Recorded Webinars and Materials

More dates, information and registration

Workshops and Training Materials

Training and Workshop Materials