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McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

In January 2002, Congress authorized the McKinney-Vento Assistance Act to support the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.  The federal law entitles children who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence" to a free, appropriate education and requires schools to remove barriers to their enrollment, attendance, and success in school.  The McKinney-Vento Program meets the needs of homeless students attending Watauga County Schools by addressing academic challenges and family issues affecting their success in school.

This definition includes the following situations:

  • Doubling Up - those who are sharing a residence with other people (friends or relatives) due to a loss in housing or hardship
  • Commercial Accommodations - those who are staying in a motel, hotel, or campground due to a loss in housing, fleeing violence, or natural disaster
  • Emergency Shelter - those who are staying in a shelter (emergency or transitional)
  • Non-Sleeping Quarters - those who are staying in a car, park, public space, abandoned buildings, bus/train stations, or other areas not inherently made as an accommodation setting for human beings to sleep
  • Surrender or Abandonment to Emergency Personnel - those who have been abandoned or surrendered to the care of emergency personnel at hospitals, police stations, or fire departments.

If you have further questions about McKinney-Vento services, please contact your school social worker for further information and guidance.

North Carolina Homeless Education Program (NCHEP) Website



Enroll in school immediately, even if missing records and documents that are normally required for enrollment, such as proof of residency, academic records, birth certificate, or immunization records.  The receiving school shall immediately contact the school last attended by the child or youth to obtain relevant academic and other records.  Immediate enrollment is defined in the law as actively attending classes and participating fully in all school activities while the school gathers records.

Who is Eligible

The McKinney Vento Act contains a specific definition of homelessness that includes a broad array of inadequate living situations.

Examples of living situations that may qualify are:

  • Living with a friend, relative or other people.
  • Hotel or motel
  • Shelter or transitional housing
  • Car, park, or other public places
  • Campground, storage unit, abandoned buildings or other inadequate homes
  • Youth living on their own, runaway youth, or youth kicked out

Unaccompanied Youth

The term "unaccompanied youth" includes youth in homeless situations who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.  A youth may also be unaccompanied but not homeless.  Please involve the school McKinney-Vento liaison to assist any youth with enrollment.

Youth without a parent should go to the local school and be immediately enrolled and referred to the McKinney-Vento Liaison for an assessment.

Unaccompanied Youth in transition include young people who:

  • Who have run away from home

  • Been thrown out of the home, and/or

  • Been abandoned by parents or guardians.

  • Left home for their own reasons

These young students are separated from their parents for a variety of reasons.  For most of these individuals, leaving home is a survival issue.  School may be the only safe and stable environment available to unaccompanied youth.  Yes unaccompanied youth often face unique barriers to enrolling and succeeding in school.  Without a parent or guardian to advocate for them and exercise parental rights, they are sometimes denied enrollment and remain out of school for extended periods. 

School Year

     Number of students identified