• I lost housing and am concerned about how to get/keep my child in school. What should I know?
    Answer: A federal law called the McKinney-Vento Act ensures school rights and protections for all students that may be experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Under this law, every school district must designate a staff member, called a liaison, to provide support and offer appropriate services to a family, child or youth experiencing homelessness. Locate a McKinney-Vento local homeless liaison for more information. In addition, Connecticut also has a McKinney-Vento State Coordinator.
  • We are temporarily housed but don't consider ourselves homeless. Does this matter?
    Answer: No, it doesn’t matter. The McKinney-Vento Act actually has a very broad definition of the homelessness, so people who are staying with friends or family, camping, or living in a car would qualify for assistance. In fact, families and youth who are considered “homeless” under the McKinney-Vento Act often do not identify themselves as homeless and they don’t have to do so to be eligible for protection under the law.
  • I am a teen on my own and don't have steady housing. Can I still go to school?
    Answer: Yes. Students who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, also called unaccompanied youth, are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act, when the student also does not have stable, adequate and regular nighttime residence. This includes youth who have run away from home, have been kicked out of their homes, or have been abandoned by parents. 

    Every school district has someone who specifically works with students experiencing homelessness. This person is called a McKinney-Vento liaison, and they are there to help and must make an extra effort to help connect unaccompanied youth with the support and services they need to get and stay in school.
  • What are the school rights and protections of students under the McKinney-Vento Act?

    The McKinney-Vento Act provides for many rights and protections for students experiencing homelessness, including: 

    • The opportunity for “school selection” including:
      • staying in the last school they attended, even if they have now moved, and are receiving transportation to that school
      • immediate enrollment in school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents normally needed for enrollment, regardless of application or enrollment deadlines, during any period of homelessness
    • Enroll and attend class in the school of their choice, even if a dispute arises regarding the students eligibility or choice of school placement. A student will remain enrolled in the school until a disagreement is resolved.
    • A student-centered decision making process on where a student should go to school.
    • Free school meals and the other special programs and services, if needed, provided to all other students.
  • Are preschoolers eligible for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act?

    Yes. Preschoolers are eligible for protections under the McKinney-Vento Act, to the extent that a school district offers a public education to preschool children, and requires schools to ensure they have access to and receive services, if eligible. This includes keeping a homeless child in their public preschool and the right to receive transportation to/from school.

  • I'm homeless in another state but want to continue school in my former CT district. Can I?

    Yes. A student’s right to remain in the last school they attended applies across state lines. Whether a student remains in that school depends on the best interest of the student, but generally falls in favor of keeping the student in the last school they attended.

    Best interest considerations include how distance and transportation will impact a student’s achievement, education, health, and safety of the student. As a federal law, the McKinney-Vento Act supersedes any state or local policies that may conflict with the federal requirements.

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

    Yes. The definition of “homeless” under the McKinney-Vento Act is broad. It covers students that are displaced from housing due to a variety of reasons including fires, flooding, storms, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. 

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

    No. A child or unaccompanied youth can be homeless for an unspecified amount of time if 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 in multiple academic years. Students who become homeless over the summer may also remain in their school of origin (the school they last attended) for the upcoming school year.

  • What are other ways Connecticut families or youth dealing with housing insecurity may get help?

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    Note – these general responses may change based upon the individual facts of a particular situation. All McKinney-Vento issues require a specific case-by-case inquiry and review.