McKinney-Vento Act and Definition of Homeless

  • The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act and Texas state law protect the rights of homeless children and youth to receive a free and appropriate public education. Every district is required to identify a Homelss Liaison and report that person to the THEO office as a contact for the district. 

    It is important to remember that the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires the immediate enrollment of children and youth experiencing homelessness, even in the absence of records normally required for enrollment. School is the safest place to be for children who may be in danger.

    Definition of “Homeless”

    (A) Individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and

    (B) Includes--

    (i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

    (ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

    (iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

    (iv) migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).iv

    Nearly everyone in Texas who is between the ages of 5 and 21 on September 1 of the school year and has not been expelled has the right to attend school, even if they:

    • don't have a permanent address
    • have a previous address in another town or state
    • don't live with a parent or legal guardian
    • live temporarily doubled-up with friends or family
    • sleep in a shelter
    • sleep in a campground, car, abandoned building, or other facility not designated for, or ordinarily used as regular accommodations for, human beings
    • don't have school records
    • don't have school records
    Districts should be conducting a homeless survey (residency questionnaire) at the beginning of the school year or when a new student arrives on campus. This questionnaire can be located at the THEO website under Resources.
  • For information, contact:

    Beverly Wyatt

    Beverly Wyatt
    Education Specialist
    361-573-0731 Ext.245