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McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Protocol

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act) ensures homeless children and youth have equal access to the same free and appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.  It has most recently been reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). 

The McKinney-Vento Act mandates a state coordinator in every state, a homeless education liaison in every school district, outlines the rights of homeless children and youth, defines homelessness, and requires collaboration and coordination across agencies and service providers.  It also provides funding for a small competitive grant program for school districts enrolling a significant number of homeless children and youth.


Kevin Avitabile, LICSW

Director of Student Services

112 Tiger Drive

Middleborough, MA 02346



The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) assists school districts in the implementation of the McKinney-Vento Act.

The following terms are defined in the McKinney-Vento Act:

Homeless children and youths: individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime

residence.  It includes:

  1.       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; or are abandoned in hospitals.
  2.       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.
  3.       Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  4.       Migratory children (as defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended) who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

Enroll and enrollment:  attending classes and participating fully in school activities.

School of origin:  the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled, including a preschool.  When a child or youth completes the final grade level served by the school of origin, the school of origin includes the designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools.

Unaccompanied youth: a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

Homeless students have the right to remain enrolled in their school of origin and receive transportation or immediately enroll in the school district where they are temporarily residing.

School Placement

  • School placement determinations must be based on the best interest of the homeless student.  For homeless students who meet the relevant eligibility criteria, districts must remove barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities, including magnet schools, summer school, career and technical education, advanced placement, on-line learning, and charter school programs.


  • School districts must adopt policies and practices to ensure that transportation is provided, at the request of the parent or guardian (or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison), to and from the school of origin. 
  • Students who have been homeless during the school year and become permanently housed have the right to remain enrolled in their school of origin with transportation if needed through the end of the school year (June).


  • School districts must immediately enroll homeless students in school to provide educational stability and avoid separation from school for days or weeks while documents are located.  

For a full text of this MA DESE Advisory please visit