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McKinney Vento (Homeless and Foster Youth)

Laws and Definitions

This page provides information about the McKinney-Vento Act. For more information and resources for homeless children and youth, visit the CDE Homeless Education web page.

McKinney-Vento Law

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento ActExternal link opens in new window or tab.) (42 U.S.C. § 11431-11435) is federal legislation that ensures the educational rights and protections of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It requires all local educational agencies (LEAs) to ensure that homeless students have access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschools, as provided to other children and youth. The McKinney-Vento Act defines LEAs as public school districts, direct-funded and locally funded charter schools, and county offices of education.

Definitions of Homelessness

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes:

  • Children and youth 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;
  • Children and youth 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; 
  • Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless for this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii)



Sharlene Ames

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services

Leslie Telles

Compliance Coordinator