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  • Charter Schools
    • Are charter schools considered school districts?

      No, charter schools are not school districts. However, a charter school is a public school by statute, and it is considered to be a Local Educational Agency (LEA) for the purposes of the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(3); 20 U.S.C § 7801(30)(A).

    • Do students attend charter schools on a tuition-free basis?

      Yes.

    • Is a charter school required to designate a McKinney-Vento liaison?

      Yes. Because charter schools are considered Local Education Agencis (LEAs) under the McKinney-Vento Act, all charter schools must comply with the McKinney-Vento Act, including the requirement to designate a McKinney-Vento liaison. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii).

    • Is a student in temporary housing entitled to immediate enrollment in a charter school?

      Yes, as long as the student meets the eligibility criteria for the charter school and there is space in the school. Students in temporary housing must be enrolled in school, even if they have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C)(i)(II).

    • Are charter schools required to set aside a portion of their Title I, Part A funding to serve students who are homeless?

      Yes. Charter schools are considered Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, all LEAs that receive Title I funding are required to set aside Title I funds for students in temporary housing. 20 U.S.C. §6313 (c)(3)(A)(i)& (c)(3)(C).For more information about Title I, Part A set-asides click here.

    • Who provides transportation to students in temporary housing who attend a charter school?

      In most cases, the school district of origin will be responsible for providing transportation for students in temporary housing if the student attended the charter school prior to becoming homeless. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(h).The Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) may be responsible for transporting the student if DSS placed the student in temporary housing and the student’s family is eligible for Emergency Assistance for Families (EAF). N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(a). If the student’s new local school district transports students to and from the charter school, the student also has the option to transfer to the new local school district and receive transportation. For more information, please call the NYS-TEACHS hotline at 800-388-2014 or see the Short Guide to Transportation for Students in Temporary Housing Attending Charter Schools.

    • Are charter schools eligible to receive McKinney-Vento sub-grant funding?

      Yes, charter schools are considered Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and are eligible to receive McKinney-Vento sub-grant funding.

  • Data and Statistics on Homelessness
    • Where can I find out how many students experienced homelessness during a school-year in a NY school district?

      The data on students in New York State who experienced homelessness at any point in the school year are collected by the New York State Education Department in the Student Information Repository System (SIRS) and reflect students enrolled in New York State School Districts and New York State Charter Schools.
      Click here for instructions on how to review the latest SIRS data.

  • Determining Eligibility for McKinney-Vento
    • Under what circumstances should a student be designated homeless?

      A student should be designated homeless if she lacks a fixed, adequate and regular nighttime residence. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2)(A). If any one of the three criteria are missing, the student is protected under McKinney-Vento.

    • What does "fixed, regular and adequate" mean?

      Fixed:

      • Fixed residence: one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change. Example: a tent is not “fixed,” but a house or an apartment are usually fixed to the ground.

       

      Regular:

      • A regular residence is a place that a student can return to consistently and count on, night after night. Example: If the family has a lease or they own their own home, the housing is usually “regular,” but if the students are staying in someone else’s home with the host’s permission, the housing may not be regular.
      • Normal, standard; constituted, conducted, or done in conformity with established or prescribed usages, rules, or discipline; and
      • recurring, attending, or functioning at fixed or uniform intervals. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
      • Regular residence: one which is used on a regular (for example, nightly) basis.

       

      Adequate:

      • Fully sufficient; equal to what is required; and lawfully and reasonably sufficient. (Ballentine’s Law Dictionary)
      • Adequate residence: one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs that are typically met in home environments. For example: A home without heat, running water, or with an infestation may not be “adequate.”

       

    • What is a "doubled-up" living situation?

      Students often live in temporary housing situations with relatives, friends, or others because of a loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason. Unaccompanied youth (students who are not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian) often find themselves living in doubled-up situations. These students should be designated as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act.

    • If a student is placed in housing that the Department of Social Services (DSS) considers "permanent" housing, can the student still qualify for protection under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Sometimes. It depends on the nature of the housing arrangement, i.e. whether it is fixed, adequate and regular. DSS has a more narrow definition of homelessness than the McKinney-Vento Act has for the purpose of shelter eligibility. For example, families in doubled up situations are often not considered “homeless” by DSS, but students in doubled up housing are still homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act.

    • Are children in foster care covered under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      A child in foster care is not considered homeless. Changes to the definition of homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act, as reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), went into effect on October 1, 2016. Under these changes, children who are “awaiting foster care placement” are also not considered homeless. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a (2)(B)(i); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(a)(3).

    • Are preschoolers eligible for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Yes, preschoolers are covered under the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(F)(i). If the district offers pre-k services, then the same services must also be made available to students in temporary housing. If a student attended preschool before a loss of housing, that student can keep attending the preschool in the school last attended. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(I)(i); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(b). If there are no pre-kindergarten classes in the district, every effort should be made to find an appropriate placement for the children whose parents request pre-kindergarten classes. NYC has undertaken initiatives to expand preschool access to all.

    • Are migrant students covered under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Many migrant children and youth, because of frequent moves, are likely to fit the definition of homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. Migrant students who meet the definition of homelessness should be designated as McKinney-Vento eligible. These students have the same rights as other students experiencing homelessness. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2)(B)(iv); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(a)(1)(iv).

    • Is transitional housing covered under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Yes. The McKinney-Vento Act applies to children and youth who “are living in emergency or transitional shelters,” including transitional housing programs and transitional living programs. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a (2)(B)(i); See also, Bullock v. Board of Education of Montgomery County, Civ. A.DKC 2002-0798 (D. Md.).

    • Can a school district contact a student's landlord to verify the student's living situation?

      No. Schools must treat information about a homeless child’s or youth’s living situation as a student education record, subject to all the protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G); 42 U.S.C. § 1232g. If the district does not believe the student to be homeless, they may conduct an investigation after immediately enrolling the student in school. However, in conducting investigations, districts must be careful not to disclose any personally identifiable information about the student/family unless they have prior written permission from the parent to do so. Sharing personal information from a student’s education record violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and can jeopardize a family’s living situation. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. For more information about FERPA, please see our information about privacy, or visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Website.

    • Can a student be covered under the McKinney-Vento Act if her family left their home voluntarily and was not evicted by authorities?

      Yes, if as a result of the move the student now lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. For instance, if a family flees due to domestic violence or agrees to vacate an apartment after a landlord threatens them with an eviction, the student’s new living situation may be temporary.

    • Is there an age limit to qualify for services under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      The McKinney-Vento Act covers all school-age children. In New York State this means children are protected until they receive their high school diploma, or through the school year in which they turn 21 years old, whichever comes first. N.Y. Education Law § 3202; Chancellor’s Regulation A-240.

    • What are the school rights and protections of students in temporary housing?

      Students in temporary housing have the right to:

      • Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they’ve lived there. 42 U.S.C. § 11431(1).
      • Choose between the local school where they are living and the school of origin (see information about school selection here). 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(a). The definition of a school of origin includes preschools, charter schools, and feeder schools. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(c). A student may have more than one school of origin:
        • The school the student attended, or was entitled or eligible to attend before the student lost housing;
        • The school where the student was last enrolled.

        N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(c).

      • Be immediately enrolled in school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents normally needed for enrollment, even if they have missed the application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(f)(2).
      • Receive free transportation to school and to school-related programs for the duration of homelessness and for the remainder of the school year if they move into permanent housing and continue to attend the same school. 42 U.S.C. §§ 11432(g)(1)(J)(iii), 11432 (g)(4)(A), and 11432 (g)(6)(A)(vii); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4).
      • Receive credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed at a prior school. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(F)(ii).
      • Receive the same special programs and services, if needed, provided to all other students served in these programs. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(A), 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(F), and 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(4); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(4)(iii).
      • Enroll and attend class in the school of their choice, even while the family or youth and school district resolve disagreements about enrollment. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(E); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(5)(a)).

       

    • Can students who have dropped out of school or earned a GED return to school?

      Yes. If a student has dropped out of school or earned a GED, the student can re-enroll in school to earn a high school diploma through the year during which they turn 21 years old or until they graduate with a high school diploma, whichever occurs first. N.Y. Education Law § 3202(1).

    • Is there a limit on the amount of time a person can be considered homeless?

      No. A youth can be homeless for an unspecified amount of time as long as housing is not fixed, regular, or adequate. Given the limited availability of affordable housing across the state, it is not unusual for a temporarily housed student to be designated as homeless for multiple academic years.

    • What happens if families who are temporarily housed do not identify as nor consider themselves homeless?

      Families and youth who are homeless oftentimes do not identify themselves. There are many reasons for this. Most families and youth do not know about the McKinney-Vento Act, and school districts must work to ensure that families and youth are aware of their legal protections. Those who are aware of the law still may not self-identify because of the stigma attached to being homeless. Families and youth in temporary living situations do not have to self-identify as homeless in order to be eligible for protection under the law. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(vi).

    • Must a student be poor to be covered under McKinney-Vento? Are there income eligibility requirements under McKinney-Vento?

      No. There are no income eligibility requirements under the McKinney-Vento Act. There are a wide range of reasons anyone may lose their housing, regardless of their income. All students who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act.

  • Disaster Response
    • Are students who need to move from their home due to disaster covered by the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Yes. The meaning of homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act is broad. It covers students who are doubling up with friends or family due to loss of housing, and also students in shelters, vehicles, and other temporary arrangements. Students who are displaced due to disaster are can continue to attend their school of origin or immediately enroll in a local school. Students in temporary housing can also receive transportation to and from their school of origin, and receive free/reduced meals and Title I services. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(J)(iii), 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(A), and 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(4)(B).

    • What kind of help is available for students who may have experienced trauma as a result of a disaster?

      Because of the trauma linked with housing loss, and/or with a natural disaster, many students may benefit from counseling and other types of support. Students who are homeless due to a natural disaster are eligible for Title I services, including counseling. The McKinney-Vento liaison at the school district of attendance should ensure that the homeless youth receieves referrals to mental health and other services, where appropriate. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(iv). More information and resources addressing the impact of trauma and suggestions for trauma-sensitive strategies can be found in the Trauma-Sensitive Strategies for School Success page on our website.

  • Dispute Resolution / Appeal Process
    • What is the Dispute Resolution and Appeal Process?

      All New York State school districts must have a policy for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding school selection or enrollment of a homeless child or youth. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(7)(b)(ii).

    • What can a school district do if it believes a student is not entitled to enrollment or transportation under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      If a school district believes that a student is not entitled to enrollment or transportation and wishes to challenge the student’s McKinney-Vento eligibility, the school must:

      • immediately enroll the student in the school in which enrollment is sought, and continue enrollment until final resolution of the dispute, including all available appeals. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (3)(E)(i),
      • provide transportation if the student is attending the school of origin,
      • give the parent or youth a written explanation of the school’s decision, including a statement regarding the right to appeal the school district’s decision, and
      • the explanation must include the name, post office address, and phone number of the McKinney-Vento liaison in the school district, as well as the petition form used to file an appeal with the Commissioner, and
      • refer the parent or youth to the Local Educational Agency’s liaison for assistance with an appeal.

      N.Y. Education Law § 3209(5); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(7)(ii).

    • Can a student continue to attend school and receive transportation during the appeal process?

      Yes, If the student’s parent or guardian or an unaccompanied youth begins an appeal with the Commissioner within 30 days of the district’s determination, the student must be allowed to continue to attend the school he/she is enrolled in at the time of the appeal and receive transportation until a final resolution of the dispute, including all available appeals. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(5); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(7)(ii)(c).

    • What resources are available to schools and to families with more information about the dispute process?

      School districts are encouraged to learn about the dispute process, and strategies to prevent unnecessary disputes.

  • Early Childhood Education
    • Are preschoolers eligible for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Yes. Preschoolers are covered under the McKinney-Vento Act and have the right to maintain enrollment and receive transportation to their school of origin. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(I)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(iii); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(i); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4).

      In NYC, with Universal Pre-k, any family who applies for pre-k will be offered a seat. If there are no pre-kindergarten classes in the district, every effort should be made to find an appropriate placement for children whose parents request pre-kindergarten classes. See, NYC Chancellor’s Regulations A-780[II] for more information about Universal Pre-K.

    • What are the school selection options for a preschool age student?

      Preschool age students can attend the school where the family is currently located, or can attend their school of origin. Under new amendments to New York State Education Law Section 3209, the definition of school of origin has been expanded, and the school selection options for preschool age children has been clarified. A preschooler can enroll in:

      1. The school that a child attended when permanently housed.
        • If the child was not attending school where the family was last permanently housed, the school of origin would include a public preschool in which the child was eligible to apply, register or enroll before the initial loss of housing.
        • If the child has a sibling attending the school in the district where the family was last permanently housed, then the child would be entitled to attend school in that district as well. The school of origin for the child would be based on the sibling’s last permanent residence.
      2. The school where the child was last enrolled.
      3. The child’s new local preschool.

      N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(i).

    • What is the process for having a student evaluated for preschool special education services?

      To have a preschool aged child evaluated for special education services:

      1. The person who would like to initiate the evaluation must make a referral to the school district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Chair, requesting an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a).
      2. The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) must make an eligibility determination as well as service and/or placement recommendations within 60 school days of when parent’s consent for the evaluation was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(d) and 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(e).
      3. The district must implement the CPSE recommendations on the next program start date, which will typically be in July, September or January.
      4. If the program is scheduled to start within less than 30 days from the recommendations, or if the program has already started at the time that the recommendations are finalized, the district must implement the program within 30 school days from a CPSE recommendation, and within 60 days from the date when the parent consented to evaluations. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(f).

       

  • Enrollment and School Selection
    • Who decides where a temporarily housed student attends school?

      In New York State, the “designator” decides which school district a temporarily housed child or youth will attend. A “designator” is:

      the parent or person in parental relation (eg: guardian) of a student in temporary housing; or
      the student in temporary housing, with help from the McKinney-Vento liaison if no parent or guardian is available (eg: for unaccompanied youth); or
      the student in temporary housing, with help from the director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, where a temporarily housed student is living in such program.
      N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(b).

    • If a student was permanently housed in one town, and later became homeless and was forced to move to another town, can the student continue to attend her original school?

      Yes. Students in temporary housing have the right to immediate enrollment and transportation to and from their school of origin, the school the student attended when the student was permanently housed, or the last school the student attended. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(1)(J)(iii) & (g)(3)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(a).

    • How long can a student in temporary housing attend the designated school?

      A student can attend the school of origin for the entire time the student is temporarily housed and throughout the remainder of the school year in which the student moves into permanent housing. The student can possibly attend one additional year after becoming permanently housed, if it is the student’s terminal year in that school (i.e. 8th grade or 12th grade). 42 U.S.C. §1432 (g)(3)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209 (2); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(2)(ii).

    • What happens if a student chooses to attend their local school, but later decides that they would rather attend the school of origin?

      Students in temporary housing have a grace period for changing their mind about school selection – 60 days or until the end of the semester, whichever is later. To change the student’s school selection, the designator (see above) will need to complete a new STAC-202 form. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(2)(vi).

    • Does the McKinney-Vento Act cover students attending private schools?

      Not usually. The McKinney-Vento Act only covers public school students. However, there are some cases where a public student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be placed in a non-public school (NPS) or private school by the Committee on Special Education (CSE). In this situation, the student will still be considered a public school student, even though they attend a private program, and the student will be protected by the McKinney-Vento Act. If the student loses housing, the student would be entitled to continued enrollment in the same non-public school placement and would be eligible to receive transportation to that school under McKinney-Vento. See Transportation FAQs for more information about transportation to private schools.

    • Can a student who was attending a private school transfer to a public school in the district of origin?

      Yes. Under state law, students who were attending private school and are temporarily housed in another school district may enroll in public school in the district where they were last permanently housed, i.e. the district of origin, and receive transportation to that school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(c).

    • What happens if a student becomes temporarily housed in the same school district the child had attended, but in a different attendance zone from where the student was last permanently housed?

      A temporarily housed student has the right to return to the same public school building where the student previously attended, or to enroll in the new local school. The student would have the right to choose between the school that is zoned for the area in which the student is temporarily residing, and the school the student was attending while permanently housed. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(I); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(i) & (2)(b).

    • If a family with more than one school-age child loses housing, and the children would like to attend school in different school districts (i.e. one child would like to return to the school of origin, and the other child would like to enroll in the local school) can the family choose to do that?

      Yes. Siblings in temporary housing may choose to attend school in different school districts, or in different zoned schools in the same district. Temporarily housed siblings do not necessarily have to attend school in the same district or the same school building.

    • Can a pre-school aged child who has lost housing still enroll in the school district where they were previously housed?

      Often, the answer is yes. A child may begin school in the district where they were last permanently housed if they were eligible to apply, register, or enroll in public pre-school or kindergarten at the time of the housing loss, OR if the child has a sibling who already attends school in the same district. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(c).

    • Can a school receive additional funding for enrolling a student who is homeless?

      Sometimes. Districts can receive tuition reimbursement from SED for students who are homeless and who were last permanently housed in a different district located within New York State. However, districts are not entitled to extra tuition reimbursement if the student continues to attend school in the same district they attended prior to their housing loss (the district where last permanently housed). N.Y. Education Law § 3209(3).

    • If a student's temporary housing is located in a different school district from the school district of origin, which district is fiscally responsible for the student's education?

      If the student chooses to attend their local school and the school is located in a different district than where the student was last permanently housed, then the local school district is eligible for tuition reimbursement from the State Education Department (SED). In these situations, SED will seek a tuition charge back from the school district of origin. If the student chooses to attend the district of origin, the district of origin remains fiscally responsible for the student’s education. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(3).

    • Who is responsible for getting the documents for students in temporary housing if they wish to enroll in school?

      The enrolling school must request the student’s records from the student’s former school. Within five days of receiving a records request, the previous district in which the student was last enrolled must send all records to the new school. Students have the right to attend classes while the new school waits for the student’s records. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(C)(ii); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(f); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(4)(iv).

    • Can a school require that a student in temporary housing provide proof of residence before enrolling the student?

      No. Students in temporary housing must be immediately enrolled, and they do not have to submit the documents normally needed for enrollment, including proof of residence. Students in temporary housing often may not have official documentation showing where they are currently living. However, if the school district does not believe the student is homeless, the school district may conduct an investigation after enrolling the student in school and providing transportation. For more information, please see our website’s section on dispute resolution.

    • Can a previous public school district refuse to send records because a student in temporary housing owes fines or fees to the school?

      No. Under the McKinney-Vento Act school districts must remove barriers to students in temporary housing who want to enroll in school, including barriers due to outstanding fees, fines, or absences. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(1)(I).

    • Can a previous school still transfer records to the new school, even without a parent's signature?

      Yes. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows schools to send records to a new school district to which a student is transferring without formal permission from the parent. FERPA protects the privacy of educational records and generally requires schools to have written permission from a parent before releasing any other information from a child’s records to any other party. Please note that under recent changes to the McKinney-Vento Act, schools must treat information about a homeless child’s or youth’s living situation as a student education record, subject to all the protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 20 U.S.C. § 1232(g); 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G).

    • Are students in temporary housing allowed to enroll in after-school programs?

      Yes. Districts must make sure that students in temporary housing have the same access to programs and services that are available to permanently housed students. This includes before- and after-school programs, as well as educational programs for children with disabilities, educational programs for English learners, programs in career and technical education, programs for gifted and talented students, and school nutrition programs. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(4).

    • Can a district refuse to enroll undocumented immigrants, i.e. immigrants who are in this country without legal permission and who are temporarily housed?

      Undocumented students have the same right to attend public schools as U.S. citizens. If an undocumented student is designated as homeless, the student has the same rights and protections under the McKinney-Vento Act as would a U.S. citizen. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982). For more information, please see our page about Immigrant Students.

    • Can a student who has been attending a private school, and who then becomes homeless, and temporarily living in another school district still enroll in the public school in the district of origin?

      Yes. Under New York state law, a student who is homeless has the right to attend school in the district where she was attending was entitled to attend before the housing loss. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(c).

    • Does a student who has identified himself as homeless have the right to enroll in school, even if the school does not believe the student is temporarily housed?

      Yes. If a student identifies as temporarily housed and there is a disagreement about the student’s eligibility, school selection, or enrollment in a school, then a district may initiate a McKinney-Vento dispute. However, the student is entitled to immediate enrollment and continued access to school until final resolution of the dispute including all available appeals. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(E)(i); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(5)c). For more information about this process, please see our page about Dispute Resolution / Appeal Process FAQs.

    • Can a student be held accountable for absences caused by homelessness?

      No. If a student misses school because of homelessness, those absences should not count against the student. For example, if a family is evicted from their home and is waiting for transportation assistance after moving from one household to another, or if students are required to be present at the time a family applies for shelter, the student may miss school. These absences should be treated as excused absences. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(I) and 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(7)(A).

  • Foster Care
    • Does McKinney-Vento apply to children in out-of-home care?

      Sometimes. The McKinney-Vento Act applies to children and youth who live in a wide variety of unstable or inadequate situations, but not to children in foster care. Many children who live in out-of-home care are not actually part of the foster care system, and they may be protected by the McKinney-Vento Act as they change living placements frequently. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a (2)(B)(i).

    • Are children in foster care covered under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      No. After changes to the McKinney-Vento Act in 2016, children in foster care are not considered homeless. Students in foster care are entitled to continued enrollment and transportation to their school of origin, if remaining in that school is in their best interest, or immediate enrollment in the local school under the Fostering Connections Act.

    • What education rights does the Fostering Connections Act provide for children in out-of-home care?

      School-age children in foster care can continue to attend the school they last attended or enroll in the local school district. Under to 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 430.11(c)(1)(i) and 42 U.S.C. § 675(1)(G), the child welfare agency must have an educational plan for each child in foster care. The plan must address the following:

      • The initial placement of the child into foster care and all subsequent placements need to consider the appropriateness of the child’s existing educational setting and how close (or far) the school is to the child’s foster care placement location.
      • Any time the child welfare agency determines that it is in the best interest of the foster child to continue in the same school in which the child is currently enrolled, the agency must coordinate with local school authorities to ensure that the child remains in such school.
      • When it is not in the best interests of the foster child to continue in the same school in which the child is currently enrolled, the child welfare agency must coordinate with the new local school authorities to make sure that:
        1. the foster child is provided with immediate and appropriate enrollment in
        2. a new school; and
        3. all applicable school records of the child are provided to the new school.

    • Who decides where a student in foster care may attend school?

      The child welfare agency has the responsibility for deciding whether it is in the best interest of a child in foster care to stay in their original school. Each best interest decision should be made on a case-by-case basis. The child welfare agency must request input from the child’s caseworker, the child’s parent(s) (if available and able to provide input), and the child (if developmentally able) in making the decision related to the child’s educational stability plan. In addition, there are other people whose input should be encouraged, including school personnel or education advocates, foster parents, the child’s attorney, and others involved in case planning for the child. If the child changes schools based on a best interest determination, the child welfare agency must coordinate with the appropriate school officials to make sure that there is immediate and appropriate enrollment in school and to help transfer all applicable school records to the new school. These provisions apply at the initial placement of the child into foster care and each time the child is moved to a different foster care placement. 42 U.S.C. § 675(1)(G). Every county Department of Social Services (DSS) also has a point of contact for educational stability of students in foster care, which can be found here.

  • Free Meals
    • Are students experiencing homelessness eligible for free meals?

      Yes. All homeless students are entitled to free meals if the school district participates in the federal free meals program. 42 U.S.C. § 1758(b)(12)(A)(iv).

    • Do students in temporary housing need to fill out an application to get free meals?

      No. Students experiencing homelessness can automatically get free meals without any paperwork. 42 U.S.C. § 1758(b)(5)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 11432(e)(3)(C)(i)(III)(cc). The school district liaison only has to submit a letter to the food service director to identify homeless students’ who are eligible for free meals. The letter should include: a list of the names of the students that are designated as homeless in the district, the effective date of the students’ eligibility determination (the date they were designated homeless), along with the liaison’s signature. For updated guidance about homeless children in school nutrition programs, please see: Eligibility Effective Date for Directly Certified Students, U.S. Department of Education, June 2014 [PDF].

    • Where can I find the Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application?

      Students in temporary housing do not need to fill out an application for free meals. Instead, the liaison can simply write a letter to the Food Services director or the school district liaison can fill out the Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application on behalf of the family. The application is available here: Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application.

  • Higher Education and Postsecondary Opportunities
    • Does the McKinney-Vento Act address the rights of students attending higher education institutions?

      The McKinney-Vento Act covers all school-age children, which in New York State includes all children until they receive their high school diploma, or through the school year in which they turn 21 years old, whichever comes first. N.Y. Education Law § 3202(1). Homeless unaccompanied youth can qualify as independent students on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can make it easier for them to get the financial aid they need to pursue college. 20 U.S.C. § 1087yy(d)(1)(H).

    • How do students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if they do not have their parents' financial information?

      Youth do not always need to provide information about their parents’ finances for college. If a student has been designated as an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth anytime during the school year, the student can apply for financial aid as an “independent student.” Unaccompanied homeless youths are considered to be independent students for college financial aid. 20 U.S.C. § 1087 vv(d)(1)(H).

      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 college financial aid administrator saying the student is an independent student. Liaisons may also write follow-up letters of verification for unaccompanied homeless youth in later years if they have the necessary information, even if the student is no longer enrolled in the school district. 42 U.S.C. § 11431 (g)(6)(A)(x)(III).

      For a copy of sample forms that RHY and liaisons can use to help unaccompanied youth who want to go to college, please click here.

    • How can McKinney-Vento liaisons help students with credit accrual and college preparation?

      McKinney-Vento liaisons must help temporarily housed unaccompanied youth to make sure that they have opportunities to meet the same academic achievement standards as permanently housed students. Liaisons must also make sure that unaccompanied homeless youth know their status as independent students for college financial aid. Liaisons can verify a student’s status for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA. School districts also have to identify and remove barriers that prevent students from receiving appropriate credit for full or partial coursework completed while attending a prior school, and describe how temporarily housed students will receive assistance from school counselors to advise, prepare, and improve their readiness for college. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(x)(II)& (g)(1)(F)(ii)& (g)(1)(K).

    • Where can students experiencing homelessness get more help and information about college?

      There are several programs available through the federal Higher Education Act, such as the TRIO programs, that help students graduate from high school, apply to and enroll in college, and complete their degrees. For additional information, see the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) pages on higher education.

  • Immigrant Students
    • Are immigrant students experiencing homelessness eligible for McKinney-Vento Act protections?

      Yes. Immigrant students experiencing homelessness are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act, and are entitled to full access to school regardless of their immigration status. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

    • Are undocumented immigrant students entitled to enroll in the school district where they are residing?

      Under Federal law, school districts are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. As the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, made clear, the documentation status of a student (or his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student’s right to a public education. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

    • Are unaccompanied immigrant children and youth who have been released to a sponsor in the U.S. eligible for McKinney-Vento protections?

      Often, the answer is yes. Students residing with a sponsor may be eligible for McKinney-Vento protections, on a case-by-case basis. The definition of “homelessness” under McKinney-Vento includes situations where students are sharing the housing of other people due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason (also known as “doubled up”). This may describe many unaccompanied immigrant children and youth who reside in sponsor households after fleeing their home countries. McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations must take into account the unique circumstances of each child. School districts are required to immediately enroll such children while McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations are being made in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act.

    • Can a school request a visa, permanent resident ID (green card), U.S. passport or other immigration related documentation when enrolling an immigrant student?

      No. School districts cannot request any documentation or information at the time of enrollment, or as a condition of enrollment, if that documentation would tend to reveal the immigration status of the child, or of the child’s parent(s) or the person(s) in parental relation. This means that districts should not ask for copies of visas or other documentation indicating immigration status, such a a social security card or number. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(y)(3)(i)(a).

    • Are NYS school districts educating children and youth who were last permanently housed outside the United State eligible for tuition reimbursement?

      Students who were permanently housed outside of the country are treated equally to other students who were last permanently housed outside of New York State. If a student in temporary housing was most recently permanently housed outside of New York State or outside the United States, the new district of current location will complete a STAC 202 form for record-keeping purposes only. The district of current location will not be eligible for tuition reimbursement through the STAC process. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(3)(a). In such cases, the STAC form should not be mailed to NYSED.

  • Immunizations
    • Can a school require that students in temporary housing provide immunization records before enrolling the student?

      No. Students who are homeless are entitled to immediate enrollment in school even without records and they are not required to provide the same documents that permanently housed students normally need for enrollment. Instead, the enrolling school district has the responsibility to promptly request records on the student’s behalf, including immunization records, from the district where the student was previously enrolled. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(c)(i).

    • What if the student is missing the immunizations needed for continued enrollment?

      If a student is missing immunizations, the student should be referred to the district’s McKinney-Vento liaison. The liaison should help the student and family to find free or low-cost health clinics where they can get the necessary immunizations. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C)(iii).

    • What if the student is a recent arrival from a foreign country?

      Many students who arrive from foreign countries have been immunized. For example, at the time of arrival at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility, unaccompanied children are provided an initial medical screening. Children and youth who do not have documentation of previous valid vaccinations are provided with vaccinations by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. This means that unaccompanied children who have been placed with a sponsor after custody in a Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter will have (or be able to get) documentation of their immunizations. Some unaccompanied children may not have complete documentation of their immunizations. For this reason, when a student is transferring from another country, a school principal (or other designee) may allow that child to attend school for up to 30 days if there is evidence of a good faith effort to get immunizations or other evidence of immunization. N.Y. Public Health Law § 2164(7)(a).

      Please note that immunizations administered outside the United States can be accepted as valid if the schedule (minimum ages and intervals) was similar to that recommended in the United States. See, Evaluating and Updating Immunizations during the Domestic Medical Examination for Newly Arrived Refugees.

  • McKinney-Vento Grant Program
    • Are charter schools and BOCES eligible to receive McKinney-Vento grant funding?

      Charter schools and BOCES are considered Local Educational Agencies under McKinney-Vento, and all LEAs are eligible for McKinney-Vento grant funding. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(3); 20 U.S.C. § 7801(30)(A).

    • How can a school district apply for a McKinney-Vento grant?

      A school district can apply for a McKinney-Vento grant from the New York State Education Department. The grant application process for years 2016-2019 is now closed. The next grant cycle will run from 2020-2022.

    • What types of services may be provided using grant funds?

      The following are some examples of services that may be provided using grant funds:

      • Tutoring
      • Expedited evaluations
      • Professional development to raise awareness and sensitivity to the needs of homeless children and youths
      • Referral services for medical, dental, mental, and other health services;
      • Transportation
      • Early childhood education programs
      • Services to attract, engage, and retain homeless children and youth in school
      • Before- and after-school, mentoring, and summer programs
      • Payment of fees associated with obtaining records
      • Training for parents of homeless children and youths about the rights of, and resources available to their children
      • Coordination activities between schools and agencies providing services to homeless children and youths
      • Violence prevention counseling and other pupil services
      • Activities to address the particular needs of homeless children and youths that may arise from domestic violence
      • Adaptation of space and purchase of supplies for any nonschool facilities to provide services using subgrant funds
      • School supplies
      • Extraordinary or emergency assistance needed to enable homeless children and youths to attend school.

      42 U.S.C. § 11433(d).

    • Can McKinney-Vento grant funds be used to pay for temporary housing (i.e. a hotel/motel) for a family whose home has recently become uninhabitable or to prevent an eviction?

      Generally, McKinney-Vento grant funds should not be used to pay for rent or temporary housing. The family should contact the local department of social services (LDSS) for help securing temporary housing. However, if assistance unavailable from any other source, the district may use McKinney-Vento funds to pay for housing for a limited period of time (e.g. one month’s rent).

      For more information about approved uses of McKinney-Vento grant funding, please see pages 19-20 of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program: Non-Regulatory Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education or contact the State Education Department’s Homeless Education Program at (518) 473-0295.

  • McKinney-Vento Liaisons
    • What are the responsibilities of McKinney-Vento or homeless liaisons?

      Liaisons need to make sure that:

      • Students in temporary housing are identified by school personnel through outreach and coordination activities with other entities and agencies;
      • Students in temporary housing are enrolled in and have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in school;
      • Families and students in temporary housing have access to and receive educational services for which they are eligible, including services through Head Start programs (including Early Head Start programs), early intervention services, and other preschool programs administerd by the local educational agency;
      • Students and their families in temporary housing get referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health and substance abuse services, housing services, and other appropriate services;
      • Students and their families in temporary housing are informed of the educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in their children’s education;
      • Public notices (for example, posters and brochures) with information about the educational rights of students in temporary housing is distributed where such students and their families are likely to see them or receive services, such as schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens;
      • Enrollment disputes are mediated;
      • The parents or guardians of students in temporary housing, and unaccompanied youth, are fully informed about the transportation services available to them, including transportation to the school of origin;
      • School personnel working with children and youth experiencing homelessness receive professional development and other support;
      • Unaccompanied homeless youth are enrolled in school;
      • Unaccompanied homeless youth are informed about their status as independent students for college financial aid and are given assistance to receive financial aid;
      • Unaccompanied homeless youth have opportunities to meet the same State academic achievement standards as other children and youth, and that the school district removes barriers that could prevent students in temporary housing from receiving partial or full credit for the coursework they may have completed at a prior school.

      42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(6)(A).

    • Do Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and charter school also need to designate a McKinney-Vento liaison?

      Yes. Charter schools and BOCES are both considered Local Educational Agencies under the McKinney-Vento Act. Therefore, charter schools and BOCES must comply with all McKinney-Vento Act provisions including designating a liaison. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(3); 20 U.S.C. § 7801(30)(A).

    • Can a McKinney-Vento liaison provide information about a student's homeless designation to others within the district, such as teachers and administrators?

      Sometimes. Schools must treat information about a homeless child’s or youth’s living situation as a student education record. This means that this information is protected as private under FERPA. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G). Sharing student information is allowed when it is for the purpose of data collection or for the school district to meet the student’s educational needs. School districts should also make sure that school personnel are aware of McKinney- Vento’s protections and are trained to respectfully manage this sensitive information.

      See Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, U.S. Department of Education, March 2017.

  • Privacy of Student Records
    • What is FERPA?

      FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. It is a federal law that requires public schools to provide students with access to their educational records and some control over the disclosure of information from the records. In most cases, schools must have a parent’s consent before sharing these records, unless the student is 18 years old or older. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b). Schools must treat information about a student in temporary housing’s living situation as an educational record, which means that this information has privacy protection under FERPA. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(G).

    • What are "student education records"?

      Student education records are all records, files, documents and other materials containing information directly related to a student. These records are typically kept by the LEA (local educational agency) or educational institution. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A). A student’s housing status (for example, whether the student is sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing) is considered to be a part of these records and is protected. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G).

    • Is a temporarily housed student's living situation considered to be part of their educational records?

      Yes, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) increased the privacy protections for students in temporary housing. Under the new McKinney-Vento Act provisions in ESSA, information about a temporarily housed student’s living situation is no longer considered “directory information,” and such information must be provided with the same protections as other non-directory, personally identifying information contained in the student’s education records under FERPA. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G). For more information, please see Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, U.S. Department of Education, March 2017.

    • How does FERPA define "parent"?

      “Parent” is defined as a parent of a student and includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absent of a parent or guardian. 20 U.S.C. § 1232h(c)(6)(D).

    • What if an unaccompanied youth is living with an adult who is not their parent/guardian?

      If that adult is caring for a student on a day-to-day basis, they may be considered a “parent” under FERPA and can access the student’s education records and provide consent for disclosures under FERPA. 20 U.S.C. § 1232h(c)(6)(D).

    • Which educational records can an unaccompanied youth obtain without a parent/guardian?

      Schools can give unaccompanied youth full access to their own records, even when the youth is under the age of 18 (Once a student turns 18, the privacy rights that the parents had under FERPA transfer to the student) 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(d). FERPA allows elementary and secondary schools to provide students who are under 18 the opportunity to inspect and review his or her education records. 34 C.F.R. § 99.5(b). Although FERPA does not require schools to provide unaccompanied homeless youth under 18 with access to these records, schools may use their judgment to determine “whether an unaccompanied minor is responsible enough to exercise certain privileges, such as inspecting and reviewing education records and providing consent for disclosure.” “U.S. Department of Education, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters.” (Jun. 2010).

    • Can a school release a student's educational records without parental consent?

      Yes, if such a release is for the purposes of enrollment in a different school district or in the case of an unaccompanied youth as described above. Also, school officials with a “legitimate educational interest” may access student records. This generally refers to individuals in the school district who need to know information from the student’s educational record in order to perform their professional responsibilities. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1)(A).

    • Can a McKinney-Vento liaison provide information about a student's homeless designation to others within the district, such as teachers and administrators?

      Sometimes. Schools must treat information about a homeless child’s or youth’s living situation as a student education record. This means that this information is protected as private under FERPA. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G). Sharing student information is allowed when it is for the purpose of data collection or for the school district to meet the student’s educational needs. School districts should also make sure that school personnel are aware of McKinney- Vento’s protections and are trained to respectfully manage this sensitive information.

    • Can schools and/or districts call landlords, housing agencies, or employers to give or request information about a family's housing status?

      No, not unless the school has a parent’s or youth’s permission ahead of time. Schools and districts cannot discuss or share information included in student records, including anything related to housing status, with anyone not involved in the student’s education, without parental permission. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(2)(A). This protection was further strengthened by the reauthorization of McKinney-Vento under the Every Student Succeeds Act, adding housing status as a category of protected information, and explaining that housing information is not “directory information.” 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(G).

  • Special Education
    • What are the school selection options for a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) who is homeless?

      A students with an IEP who is homeless has the same options as other students experiencing homelessness: the student can stay in their same school (also known as the school of origin) or can transfer to a local school (a school zoned for where the student is temporarily housed). 42 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(c)(i).

    • What is Special Education?

      Special education is specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents. 20 U.S.C.§ 1401(29).

    • Are students in temporary housing able to get special education services?

      Students in temporary housing have the same right to special education services as permanently housed students in the school district. The McKinney-Vento Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) work together to make sure that students in temporary housing with disabilities have their needs met. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(5)(D); 20 U.S.C. § 1401(29).

    • What is the process for getting an evaluation for special education services?

      • The person who would like to have a student evaluated must ask the school district’s Committee on Special Education (CSE), explaining that they’d like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6).
      • Initial evaluations must be completed within 60 calendar days of the date a parent gives consent for the evaluation. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(b)(7).
      • Students must be provided with appropriate special education services within 60 school days of when parental consent to evaluate was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(d).

       

    • What happens when a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) transfers school districts?

      If a temporarily housed student transfers school districts, the new school district must immediately provide comparable services to the services described in the student’s IEP. The new district can then hold an IEP meeting to decide whether to adopt the original IEP or make a new one. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(c)(i).

    • What happens if the child changes school districts before evaluations are completed?

      Sometimes, if a child changes schools, the 60-day time frame no longer applies. This is only if the new school district is making enough progress to make sure the evaluation is finished quickly AND the parent and the school district agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be finished. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(a)(1)(c)(2).

    • What happens if a student is an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and a parent is unavailable?

      The school district must appoint a person to serve as a “surrogate parent” for students who do not have someone to act as a parent on matters related to special education. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(2)(A)(ii). Surrogate parents cannot be employees of the school district or any agency caring for the student (like department of social service caseworkers). Surrogate parents cannot have a conflict of interest with the student, and they must have the knowledge and skills to represent the student. Please note that the the definition of parent in the IDEA is very broad and includes a foster parent or other individual with whom the student lives and who is acting in the place of a natural parent. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(23). School districts must keep a list of available surrogate parents in the school district. N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.5(n)(1). See more FAQs about Unaccompanied Homeless Youth here.

    • When must a surrogate parent be appointed?

      Surrogate parents should be appointed within 30 calendar days if a parent is unavailable. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(2)(B). If needed, a temporary surrogate parent can also be appointaed to help unaccompanied homeless youth and prevent any delay in services when a student is still waiting for a surrogate parent to be appointed. Staff members of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, street outreach programs, and staff from the school district can serve as temporary surrogate parents for unaccompanied youth, when needed. 34 C.F.R. § 300.519(f).

    • What are the responsibilities of a surrogate parent?

      The person selected as a surrogate parent:

      • can represent (speak for) the child in all matters about the identification, evaluation, educational placement and the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.
      • must have the knowledge/skills to represent (speak for) the child
      • cannot have any interests which conflict with the interests of the child he or she represents, i.e. cannot be employed by the LEA.

      34 C.F.R. § 300.519(d)&(g).

    • What is the process for having a student evaluated for preschool special education services?

      The person who would like to initiate an evaluation must ask the district school district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Chair, explaining that they’d like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6). The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) must make an eligibility determination as well as service and/or placement recommendations within 60 calendar days of when parental consent was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(d)(1). The district must implement the CPSE recommendations on the nearest July, September or January start date, or within 30 school days from a CPSE recommendation made within 30 days of the July, September or January program start date. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(f).

  • STAC 202 (Designation Form and Tuition Reimbursement)
    • When is a school district eligible for reimbursement/additional state aid for instruction for a student in temporary housing?

      Districts can receive reimbursement or additional state aid for instruction from SED for educating students in temporary housing if the student was last permanently housed in a different school district in NYS. If a student is enrolled in the school district of origin, the district of origin is not eligible for reimbursement. However, if the student in temporary housing has decided to attend school in the new district of current location, which by definition is different from the district of origin, the new local district is eligible for reimbursement. To start the reimbursement process, a STAC-202 form should be completed and sent to the STAC Office at SED.

      Approximately 2-3 weeks after receiving the STAC 202, the student’s name should be in the STAC Mainframe. The school district can then enter the dates of service (i.e. period of enrollment), type of program (general education, special education, BOCES, etc.) in the DSHOM (District Service Homeless) screen. (Please note, STAC 4 forms are no longer used. Instead, the information entered in the DSHOM screen is used.) The STAC Unit sends Homeless Eligibility Reports to districts 2-3 times a year listing all students who have an open STAC202 for the year with no corresponding DSHOM approval.

      At the end of each school year, or program year, each school district should go to the DVHOM(District Verification Homeless) screen and verify all of the information in the STAC mainframe. This screen is sometimes referred to as the AVL (Automated Verification List).

      After the student has been verified in the STAC mainframe, the district will receive an Approved Payment Report in the mail and then an electronic transfer of funds. Typically, payment will be made during the spring following the service year of the Homeless Reimbursement Approval (i.e. first payment for students in temporary housing enrolled in the district of current location during the 2016-17 school year will be issued in approximately March of 2018).

      If you have questions, please contact the STAC Office for more information at: (518) 474-7116.

    • What is a STAC-202 form?

      STAC-202 form is the designation form school districts must use to identify students who are homeless and to indicate in what district the students will be attending school. It is also the reimbursement form used by the school district of current location to seek tuition aid from the State Education Department in cases where the student was last permanently housed in a different NYS district. (N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(e)).

    • When does a STAC-202 form need to be filled out?

      A STAC-202 form should be filled out for each student designated as homeless and attending school in the district. (N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(e)).

    • Who fills out a STAC-202 form?

      The person who decides where the student will attend school should also fill out a STAC-202 form indicating which school the student is going to attend. Under state law, parents, persons in parental relation, students whose parents are unavailable, and directors of residential runaway and homeless youth programs, may decide where the student will attend school. (N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(e)).

    • Who gets copies of the completed STAC-202 form?

      Copies of the form should be given to several parties:

      1. State Education Department, STAC Unit, if the student was last permanently housed in a different district in NYS from the district of attendance (the district where enrollment is sought),
      2. School district of attendance (district where enrollment is sought),
      3. School district of origin (district where the student was last permanently housed),
      4. School district where the student was most recently enrolled,
      5. Parent/Guardian/Unaccompanied youth/director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, and
      6. Local Department of Social Services (DSS), only if the student was placed in temporary housing by DSS. (N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(e); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(3)).

       

    • When should a STAC-202 form be sent to SED?

      District liaisons should send completed STAC-202 forms to SED for tuition reimbursement when the student was last permanently housed in a different district within NYS.

    • Should STAC-202 forms be submitted to SED if a student is attending school in the district of origin?

      No. The school district of origin should not submit STAC-202 forms to SED, but should keep them on file in the district for record keeping purposes.

    • Does a new STAC-202 form need to be filled out for the same student each year?

      No, the STAC-202 form is open-ended and the STAC office will not change the designation of “homeless” until someone informs them that the student is no longer homeless.

    • Is a parent/guardian signature necessary to send in the STAC-202 form?

      Not always. If the parent is unable to sign the form or if the form is for an unaccompanied youth, the person submitting the form can do so without getting the parent’s signature. Delays in the completion of the STAC form should not result in delays to enrollment, because students are entitled to immeidate enrollment under McKinney-Vento. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C).

    • What are the DSHOM and DVHOM screens?

      The DSHOM (District Service Homeless) and DVHOM (District Verification Homeless) screens in the STAC mainframe are used to approve and verify tuition reimbursement or additional aid for instruction for students in temporary housing. On the DSHOM screen in the STAC Mainframe, districts enter the dates of service and type of program. At the end of each school year, districts verify all of the information on the DVHOM (District Verification Homeless) screen in the STAC mainframe.

    • Does a new STAC-202 form need to be submitted when a student moves from one temporary address to another?

      Yes.

    • Does a new STAC-202 form need to be submitted when a student moves into permanent housing?

      No, but the LEA liaison should fill in question number 10, “Date Placed in Permanent Housing,” and re-submit the form to the necessary people.

    • Where can you get a STAC form?

      STAC forms are available on the NYSED website and also from all school districts, LEA liaisons, departments of social services, and runaway and homeless youth shelters. (N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(e); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(3)).

    • Where should a completed STAC form be sent?

      Completed STAC forms can be faxed to: (518) 402-5047 or mailed to:
      New York State Education Department (SED)
      STAC and Special Aids Unit
      Room 514W EB
      Albany, NY 12234

  • Summer School
    • Must school districts have a liaison for summer months?

      All Local Educational Agencies, including school districts, charter schools, and BOCES, must ensure there is a designated liaison for the summer months as well as the school year. Many school districts will need to appoint an alternate liaison for the summer months if the liaison for the academic year is unavailable. School districts should provide the summer liaison’s contact information.

    • Are students who were temporarily housed during the school year able to attend summer school?

      Yes. Any student who is experiencing homelessness and who needs summer school to advance to the next grade must be provided with the chance to do so. In addition, school districts must make sure that homeless children and youth do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities including summer school. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(F)(iii). Schools should waive minimum school-year attendance requirements for students in temporary housing who need summer school. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(I).

    • What if there is a fee associated with the summer school program?

      This fee should be waived for students who were in temporary housing during the school year and for students who are temporarily housed during the summer session.

    • What if the school district does not offer a summer school program?

      If your school district does not offer a summer program but permanently housed students attend summer school in a nearby district for a fee, the fee should be waived for students who experienced homelessness during the school year and for students who are homeless during the summer session. In addition, school districts must revise policies to remove barriers caused by fees, fines, and absences. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(I).

    • Can students experiencing homelessness get transportation to summer school?

      Yes. All homeless students who are enrolled in the school district should get transportation to summer school if the student needs summer school. Summer school transportation should be provided by the school district if the lack of such transportation would be a barrier to attendance. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(e). Homeless students enrolled in the school district must be provided transportation to summer school if such transportation is provided to permanently housed students. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(F)(iii).

  • Title I
    • What can Title I set-aside funding be used for?

      A Local Education Agency (LEA) may use funds to provide services to eligible students in temporary housing in both Title I and non-Title I schools that are comparable to services provided to non-homeless students in Title I schools. 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(C). Title I services should help children to meet New York State’s academic content and achievement standards. Title I funding cannot be used to supplant services that are already required under the McKinney-Vento Act. For a list of examples of allowable uses for Title I funds, see M-4 of the March 2017 Federal Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program. For students who are eligible for McKinney-Vento protections, Title I set-aside funding may also be used for excess costs of transportation to the school of origin, transportation once the student is permanently housed, and for the hiring of the McKinney-Vento liaison and other support staff 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(C).

    • If a student experiencing homelessness attends a school that does not receive Title I, Part A funds, how does the student receive services?

      Every school district that receives Title I, Part A funds is required to set aside a portion of the school district’s funding to provide comparable services to students in temporary housing who attend schools that lack Title I, Part A services. 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(A)(i).

    • Can Title I, Part A set-aside funds be used to pay for services for a student attending a Title I school?

      Yes. School districts may use the Title I, Part A set-aside for students attending Title I and non-Title I schools. Because students in temporary housing often have unique needs that differe from the needs of permanently housed students, Title I, Part A set-aside funds are available for meeting these needs. 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(A)(i). For more information, please see M-5 of the March 2017 Federal Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program.

    • Are districts where 100% of the schools are Title I (i.e. every school in the district is a Title I school) still required to do Title I set-asides?

      Yes. Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, all school districts that receieve Title I funding must set aside a portion of their funding for students who are homeless. 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(A)(i).

    • How is the amount of Title I set-aside funding calculated?

      There is no mandated formula for calculating Title I set-aside funding. Some methods include:

      • identifying homeless students’ needs and funding accordingly;
      • obtaining a count of the students who are homeless and multiplyng that number by the Title I, Part A per-pupil allocation;
      • reserving a specific amount of funds greater than or equal to the amount of the district’s McKinney-Vento sub-grant; and
      • reserving a specific percentage based on the district’s poverty level or total Title, Part A allocation.

      For more information, see: Title I, Part A Set-Aside for Homeless Students Q & A [PDF].

    • Can Title I, Part A funding that is unused in a given school year be rolled over from one school year to the next?

      A maximum of 15% of Title I, Part A funding may be rolled over from one year to the next; if an LEA has 15% or less of the initial Title I, Part A allocation left over, that funding is automatically rolled over to the following year. Funds for any federal program can only be rolled over for one year. If there are carryover funds from two years ago, the LEA would lose those funds, which is very rare. 20 U.S.C. § 6339(a).

    • Can Title I funds be used to pay for transportation while a student is homeless?

      June 2014 Field Memo from the NY State Education Department authorizes school districts to use Title I funds to pay for excess costs of transporting students in temporary housing. This may include transportation to and from after-school and before-school activities, transportation to the school of origin after the student has moved into permanent housing, transportation for parents to attend school events, and transportation to medical appointments that relate to or support the student’s education. 20 U.S.C. § 6313(c)(3)(C).

    • Can Title I funds be used to pay for eyeglasses/medical/dental services for homeless students?

      Yes, if funds are not available from other public or private sources to provide such services, e.g. Medicaid. 20 U.S.C. § 6315(e)(2)(B)(i).

    • If a student in temporary housing becomes permanently housed during the school year, is the student still eligible to receive Title I, Part A services for the remainder of that school year?

      Yes. In general, a student experiencing homelessness who becomes permanently housed midway through the school year continues to be eligible for Title I, Part A services for the remainder of the school year. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(A)(i)(II).For more information, please see M-5 of the March 2017 Federal Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program.

    • Can school districts use Title I funds for students who do not formally attend the school district?

      No. School districts cannot use Title I funds for students who are temporarily residing in their districts but attending school in a different district.

  • Transportation
    • Who is responsible for setting up transportation for students in temporary housing?

      The McKinney-Vento liaison or Homeless liaison for the district where the student is enrolled in school must make sure transportation is arranged for students in temporary housing. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(viii). In some cases, the liaison may need to coordinate with the local department of social services, Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) shelters, or neighboring school districts. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(a)&(b).

    • Are transportation services available to students who enroll in the local school where they are temporarily residing?

      Yes. Students who transfer to their local school are entitled to comparable transportation services offered to permanently housed students living in the district. 42 U.S.C §11432 (g)(4)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(d). If the lack of transportation creates a barrier to the student’s ability to participate in school, the school district must eliminate the barrier. All school districts must review and revise transportation policies that may act as barriers to a student’s enrollment and attendance in school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(6)(b).

    • How long does a school district need to provide transportation for a student in temporary housing?

      A school district must provide transportation for the entire time the youth is in temporary housing and through the remainder of the year when a student finds permanent housing. 42 U.S.C. §11432 (g)(1)(J)(iii) & (g)(3)(A)(i)(II). In New York State, districts must also provide transportation for an additional year if that year is the student’s terminal year in the school building. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(i). For example, if a student in temporary housing finds permanent housing in the middle of their junior year, the student can receive transportation for the remainder of their junior year as well as their senior year.

    • What happens if the school of origin is very far away from where the student is temporarily living?

      Transportation must be provided for students who are temporarily housed within 50 miles one way of their school building. If the school is more than 50 miles away, the school district is not required to provide transportation for the student unless the Commissioner of the State Education Department determines it is in the best interest of the student. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

    • Does a school district have to provide transportation even if they believe the student is not entitled to attend school in that district?

      Yes. Students in temporary housing are entitled to transportation during disputes with the school district, even if the dispute is about school selection, enrollment, or transportation. 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(E)(i). For more information about the dispute process, please see our page on McKinney-Vento disputes.

    • When is the Department of Social Services (DSS) responsible for transportation for students in temporary housing?

      The local DSS is responsible for the transportation of students to and from school any time the DSS has placed a student in temporary housing at an address which is outside of the school district of attendance and the student is eligible for Emergency Assistance for Families (EAF). However, if a DSS requests that the school district supply the transportation, then the school district is responsible for providing transportation to and from school. If the school district supplies the transportation, the school district is allowed to bill the DSS for their transportation costs, and the DSS is required to reimburse the district for the costs. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(a). Examples of temporary housing include: shelters, hotels, and motels. N.Y. For more information, please see the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

    • When can a DSS or a school district provide public transportation passes instead of yellow bus service for students in temporary housing?

      A local DSS or school district should provide the same or comparable type of transportation for students in temporary housing (e.g. typically yellow school bus, van) as the school district provides for students who are permanently housed. While waiting for bus service to be set up, a school district or a DSS may provide temporary alternate transportation such as mileage reimbursement and/or transit passes so that a student does not miss school. It is expected that alternate transportation will be used on a short term basis only while busing is being established. For more information, please see the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

    • Who is responsible for transporting for students residing in runaway and homeless youth (RHY) shelters to and from school?

      For students who attend their school of origin but are temporarily living in an RHY shelter in a different district, the school district where the student is enrolled will be reponsible for providing transportation to and from school for the student. The school district will be fully reimbursed for this expense by the State Education Department. To receive reimbursement, the school district must complete an RHYA Transportation Form. For students attending school in the new local district, that district should arrange for transportation to the extent that it is offered to permanently housed students in the district. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(b).

    • Can school districts provide transportation to parents to accompany their children to school?

      Yes. For example, districts have provided parents with gas cards or reimbursed parents using the federal mileage reimbursement rate when parents in temporary housing use their own cars to bring their children to and from school. Districts have also provided public transportation passes to parents to accompany their children on public transit when/where busing was unavailable. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

    • When can parents receive transportation assistance to accompany their child to school?

      When determining which parents are eligible for transportation assistance, school districts should consider the following factors:

      • age of the child,
      • distance of the transportation
      • complexity of the transportation arrangement,
      • need to travel through a high crime area,
      • cost-effectiveness of the parent transporting the child,
      • whether the child is disabled, and
      • a combination of such factors.

      N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).

    • Who is responsible for providing transportation assistance to parents?

      The entity responsible for transporting the child (typically either the school district of attendance or a local DSS) is also responsible for the parent’s transportation costs if a parent needs to accompany their student to and from school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c); Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Administrative Directive 06-ADM-15.

    • How can school districts pay for transporting homeless students?

      • Districts are eligible for aid from the State Education Department for allowable costs associated with transporting students in temporary housing. Allowable costs include the additional costs incurred when transporting such students across school district lines. Districts will be reimbursed using the same transportation aid ratios as those used for permanently housed students. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(4)(c).
      • School districts may also apply for a McKinney-Vento Act sub-grant through SED. Funding from the sub-grants may be used to pay for transportation expenses of homeless students.
      • Title I, Part A set-aside funding may be used to pay for excess transportation costs that are not already covered by the resources above. A June 2014 Field Memo from the NY State Education Department authorizes school districts to use Title I funds to pay for the cost of transporting students in temporary housing. 20 U.S.C. §6315 (b)(3).

       

  • Unaccompanied Youth
    • Who are Unaccompanied Youth?

      Unaccompanied youth are students who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian; this includes youth who have run away from home, have been kicked out of their homes, or have been abandoned by parents. These students are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act when the student also does not have a fixed, adequate and regular nighttime residence – click here for a definition of fixed, adequate and regular. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2). Without a parent or guardian to help, these students may not understand their school rights or know how to get help. School district McKinney-Vento Liaisons must make an extra effort to help connect unaccompanied youth with the support and services they may need. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(iv).

    • Is there an age limit to being an Unaccompanied Youth?

      No. There is no age limit for Unaccompanied Youth. Unaccompanied Youth are usually in their teens. In New York State, all students have the right to a free public education until they graduate, or until the school year when they turn twenty-one, whichever comes first. N.Y. Education Law § 3202(1).

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

      No. Unaccompanied youth can enroll in school by themselves, or with help from another adult. If another adult helps the youth, the school can’t require guardianship papers. Missing papers can’t delay or prevent enrollment of an unaccompanied youth. 42 U.S.C. §11432 (g)(3)(C); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(f)((2)).

    • Who decides where an unaccompanied youth will attend school?

      An unaccompanied youth and the school district’s McKinney-Vento liaison can decide together where the youth will go to school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(b)& (2)(a).

    • Is a student considered an unaccompanied youth if they are receiving money or other support from their parents?

      Sometimes. Getting money or other help from parents, by itself, does not change a student’s housing status. A student can be an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth if the student does not live with their parent or legal guardian and their housing is not fixed, regular, and adequate.

    • If an unaccompanied youth has left home, but their parents will allow the student back home, could the student still qualify for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act?

      Yes. Many students run away from home due to abuse or neglect, even though their parent or guardian says they can come home. Sometimes the youth may not be able to go home safely. Even though parents might allow the student to return home, if the student meets the definition of homeless under McKinney-Vento and is living temporarily in housing that is not fixed, regular, and adequate, the youth will still be protected under McKinney-Vento.

    • What is an "emancipated minor"?

      For purposes of establishing residency under New York State Education Law § 3202, a student is considered “emancipated” if they are 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. Students who are married or in the military are considered automatically emancipated. In New York State, there is no such thing as a court declaration of emancipation, and there is no legal paperwork needed to declare oneself an emancipated minor. Pregnant youth, however, are not automatically emancipated. Keep in mind that “emancipation” usually removes the parents’obligations to their children. This means an emancipated youth can’t demand food, clothing, and shelter from their parents, and it may not help the youth. For these reasons, a young person does not have to be “emancipated” to have protection under McKinney-Vento.

    • Can all unaccompanied youth automatically get services under McKinney-Vento?

      Unaccompanied youth are only eligible for protection under the McKinney-Vento Act if their housing is not fixed, regular, and adequate. For instance, a student who has lived in permanent housing with a grandparent since childhood, but apart from their legal parent or guardian would not be protected under the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(6). That said, the law encourages school districts to integrate their services for homeless youth into the general education setting. For example, a district could use sub-grant funds to create a tutoring program for at-risk students, and this program could include services for homeless students and permanently housed students together.

    • 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 are 40% of the total homeless youth population. For more information, please see Homeless LGBT Youth and LGBT Youth in Foster Care.

    • Can an unaccompanied youth leave out her parents' financial information when filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for college?

      Students in temporary housing do not always need to provide information about their parents’ finances for college. If a student has been designated as an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth anytime during the school year, the student can apply for financial aid as an “independent student.” 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. § 1087vy(d)(1)(H). There are several people who can confirm this status for a student, including: a school district McKinney-Vento liaison, director of a Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) program, or the director of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded shelter or transitional program. Any of the individuals listed above can write a letter to the college financial aid administrator saying the student is an independent student. School district liaisons may also write follow-up letters of verification for an unaccompanied homeless youth in later years if they have the necessary information even if the student is no longer enrolled in the school district. 42 U.S.C. § 11431(g)(6)(A)(x)(III). For a copy of sample forms that RHY and school providers can use to help unaccompanied youth who want to go to college, please visit our Higher Education page.

    • Does the McKinney-Vento Act cover students who want to enroll in GED programs?

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