McKinney Vento Act

McKinney Vento Act, Education for Homeless Youth

The McKinney Vento Act is designed to ensure homeless children and youth are provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education on an equal basis with all other children in the state. Program objectives and activities are intended to remove and/or ease the barriers to enrollment and educational success for homeless children.

Under the Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program State Plan, homeless children are defined as: Children living with a parent in a domestic violence shelter; runaway children; children and youth who have been abandoned or forced out of their home by parents or other caretakers; and school district-aged parents living in houses for school district-aged parents if they have no other available living accommodations.

Homeless youth are entitled to immediate enrollments and their families are not required to prove residency regarding school district enrollment. These students will be enrolled at Insight PA without delay.

Responsibilities of Insight PA (or Designated Liaison) for Homeless Children and Youth

  1. Identify homeless children and youth with assistance of school personnel and by coordination activities with other entities and agencies.
  2. Inform parents or guardians of educational rights and related opportunities available to their children, including Head Start programs (including Early Head Start programs), early intervention services under Part C of the IDEA, other preschool programs administered by the LEA, and provide them with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children.
  3. Disseminate public notice of the educational rights of homeless students where children and youths receive services under the McKinney-Vento Act (such as schools, family shelters and food pantries).
  4. Mediate enrollment disputes in accordance with the Enrollment Dispute section.
  5. Inform the parent or guardian of a homeless child, youth and any unaccompanied youth, of all transportation options, including to the school of origin, and assist in accessing these transportation services.
  6. Ensure that unaccompanied youth are immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of disputes that might arise over school enrollment or placement.
  7. Assist children and youths who do not have documentation of immunizations or medical records to obtain necessary immunizations or necessary medical documentation.
  8. Understand the guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for the education of homeless students and be ready to explain the BEC related to homeless education to school district staff.
  9. Get to know the best resources in their community to assist families with referrals for things such as shelter, counseling, food and transportation.
  10. Distribute information on the subject of homeless students and arrange staff development workshops and presentations for school personnel, including office staff.
  11. Provide standard forms and information about enrollment procedures and key school programs to each shelter in their district.
  12. Become familiar with the various program materials that are available from PDE.
  13. Ensure that public notice of the educational rights of homeless students is disseminated in locations frequented by parents and guardians of such children and youths, and unaccompanied youths, including schools, shelters, public libraries, and soup kitchen, in a manner and form understandable to the parents and guardians and unaccompanied youth.
  14. Collaborate with a school district's special education program to ensure that homeless children who need special education and related services are located, identified and evaluated. This is a requirement under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates that highly mobile children with disabilities, including homeless children, be identified and served.
  15. Ensure that homeless youths who have or may have disabilities have a parent or a surrogate parent to make special education or early intervention decisions. In the case of unaccompanied homeless youth, if a student is disabled or may be disabled and the youth does not have a person authorized to make special education decisions, the School will work with the following people as temporary surrogate parents: staff in emergency shelters; transitional shelters; independent living programs; street outreach programs; and state, local educational agency or child welfare agency staff involved in the education or care of the child. This rule applies only to unaccompanied homeless youth.
  16. Identify preschool-aged homeless children by working closely with shelters and social service agencies in their area. In addition, the liaison should inquire, at the time they are enrolling homeless children and youths in school, whether the family has preschool-aged children.
  17. Identify unaccompanied homeless youth while respecting their privacy and dignity by providing specific outreach to areas where eligible students who are out of school may congregate.
  18. Ensure that unaccompanied youths have opportunities to meet the same challenging state academic standards as the state establishes for other children and youths.