Education is a critical strategy both for addressing child and youth homelessness and for preventing it from re-occurring in the future. In today’s economy, completing high school is a bare minimum for obtaining a job that pays enough to afford safe, stable housing. High school graduation is also linked to many other important indicators of health and well-being.

We’ve carefully compiled resources on federal PreK-12 law and policy, including tools, innovative practices, and the latest research. Stay in touch with us to learn about new resources as we produce and collect them.

  • Interview Checklists for Supporting School Selection
    • These interview checklists are designed to facilitate open conversations about the school that is in a student’s best interest to attend, emphasizing the importance of parents and youth being fully informed and carefully considering the benefits of school stability prior to changing schools. We created two interview templates, one for parents and one for unaccompanied youth.
  • Back-to-School Training Resources
    • Training school staff is essential in order for children and youth experiencing homelessness to be identified, and to receive the educational protections and services to which they are entitled. In response to many requests, we are pleased to offer these resources designed for liaisons to use when training school staff – for example, teachers, bus drivers, and principals.
  • Definition and Signs of Homelessness
    • What is the definition of homelessness for schools, and what are some common signs of homelessness? This resource covers both topics.
  • Tips for Teachers & Staff: How to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • For many students experiencing homelessness, school is the only place of stability in their lives. Teachers play a crucial role in creating a classroom environment that is safe and supportive for all students, especially those who are highly mobile and have experienced the trauma that often accompanies homelessness. Here, we provide information and strategies that teachers and support staff can use to support the educational success of students experiencing homelessness.
  • Positive School Discipline Practices for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • This document provides a brief overview of school discipline, shares research on the discipline of students experiencing homelessness, and offers tips for implementing positive school discipline for students experiencing homelessness. It also shares stories and suggestions from SchoolHouse Connection Young Leaders who experienced homelessness.
  • Early Care and Education Advocacy: A Tip Sheet for Housing and Homeless Assistance Providers
    • This short document provides basic information to help housing and homeless assistance providers advocate with their families and youth for appropriate educational services, from birth through higher education. The rights and protections outlined here apply to all children and youth experiencing homelessness, as defined by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Higher Education
    • This second “Pathways to Partnership” series is designed to help LEA homeless liaisons and homeless service providers to 1) gain a basic understanding of some important higher education programs, including those programs that have specific requirements on homelessness; and 2) create and sustain higher education partnerships. Connecting youth and young adults who experience homelessness with the appropriate resources will help pave a smoother transition to and through postsecondary education.
  • A Closer Look at ESSA, Title I Part A, and Students Experiencing Homelessness.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created important new requirements and opportunities for serving children and youth experiencing homelessness through Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The ESSA amendments to Title I Part A go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year. Learn what’s new, including a sample needs assessment and new summaries.
  • Quick Guide for Counseling Staff Working with Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • School counselors provide important support to students experiencing homelessness. The Every Student Succeeds Act recognized this role by adding requirements that counselors advise students experiencing homelessness and improve their readiness for college. This quick guide, written by a school counselor, provides practical tips and strategies for supporting students experiencing homelessness, helping meet their basic needs, and planning for graduation.
  • Pathways to Partnership: Early Childhood Education.
    • Quality early childhood programs can change the trajectory of a child’s health and well-being, and help families experiencing homelessness regain stability. Local educational agency (LEA) McKinney-Vento liaisons and homeless service providers funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are required by law to connect families experiencing homelessness to early childhood programs. The first in a new SHC series, this guide is designed to help LEA liaisons and homeless service providers develop a basic understanding of, and build partnerships with, five key early childhood programs.
  • Transportation for Students in Foster Care: A Legal and Practical Reference Tool. 
    • Students in foster care move frequently. They move when they are first brought into care, and caseworkers may change children’s placements multiple times over their time in care. However, students in foster care should not have to change schools every time their foster placement is changed. This two-page brief reviews requirements for child welfare agencies and educational agencies; provides considerations for developing foster care transportation procedures; and includes links to sample transportation guidelines and procedures.
  • Immigrant Students: How Schools Can Help (Updated and Translated Brief).
    • Federal rules on immigrant youth and families are changing rapidly. Our regularly updated brief provides basic information about eligibility for education services, and practical suggestions for schools.
  • McKinney-Vento Website Tool.
    • The McKinney-Vento Act as amended by ESSA requires school district liaisons to ensure that public notice of educational rights is disseminated in “locations frequented by parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth,” in a “manner and form understandable to them.” Today, many families and youth get information from the internet. This makes it important for school district websites to contain information about the McKinney-Vento Act. Is your school district’s website a McKinney-Vento tool? We’ve created a simple guide to help.
  • Supporting Children and Youth Displaced by Disasters.
    • A brief summarizes five key policies and provides quick tips for their implementation.
  • LEA Liaison Self-Assessment Tool.
    • Of all of the amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act made by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new requirement for local educational agency (LEA) liaisons to be “able to carry out” ten specific duties in the law has the potential to have the greatest impact on children and youth who are experiencing homelessness. We developed a simple tool to help LEAs quickly identify and prioritize areas where greater capacity is needed to carry out the law.
  • Making the Case series. This series will share real students’ situations and walk through making the legal case for providing the
    support the student needs.
  • Preschool to Prevent Homelessness: Research, Rights, and Resources.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act in several important ways to increase access to preschool programs. This page contains frequent questions and answers about preschool and homelessness, and links to resources to help implement the new policies.
  • ESSA PowerPoint template. All are welcome to download, edit and use this template, which includes the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, new research, a pop quiz, an interactive exercise, sound clips from youth, and new resources.
  • Introduction to ESSA and Homelessness: Powerpoint from ICPH Conference.
    • SchoolHouse Connection teamed up with National Center on Homeless Education (NCHE) for a primer on ESSA and homelessness at the 2018 Beyond Housing conference, hosted by the Institute for Children, Poverty, & Homelessness (ICPH). Check out the PowerPoint from that session, which can be downloaded and used in your own trainings. ICPH has made all of the conference session materials available here.
  • Preschool flow chart.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act to include preschools specifically within the definition of “school of origin. To determine whether a particular early childhood education program is a “preschool” under ESSA, a helpful reference is the definition ED uses for McKinney-Vento data collection. This flow chart provides a guide to that definition.
  • Guidelines for Designating LEA-Level and Building-Level McKinney-Vento Liaisons.
    • Designating school building-level McKinney-Vento contacts can be a highly effective best practice for identifying children and youth who are experiencing homelessness, and ensuring full implementation of the McKinney-Vento Act. However, sometimes roles can become muddled. These guidelines were created in response to a request from a State McKinney-Vento Coordinator who confronted challenges clarifying lines of authority and responsibility in school districts that designate school building-level McKinney-Vento contacts (in addition to the required designation of the school district McKinney-Vento liaison). The guidelines are designed to share the relevant laws. and provide a procedure to help maintain clear roles and responsibilities.
  • Full Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities for Students Experiencing Homelessness.
    • Research shows the importance of participation in activity programs in increasing high school graduation and later success in life, particularly for disadvantaged students. Yet homelessness creates significant barriers to participation in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. The ESSA amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act include new policies to remove barriers to participation in extra-curricular activities. This brief, the first in SHC’s “Getting to Graduation” series, explains the new requirements and provides examples of policies to help implement them. In addition, this editable template for school districts (Microsoft Word download) can be used to provide athletic directors and associations with determinations of a youth’s homeless status (or foster care status).

Partner resource:

  1. The National Center for Homeless Education is the U.S. Department of Education’s technical assistance center.  Below are some quick links to essential pages:
  2. Established in October 2004 and administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS), the REMS TA Center provides a hub of information, resources, training, and services in the field of school and higher ed emergency operations planning.

We receive many PreK-12 questions from educators, service providers, and advocates. We’ll be highlighting questions and our answers on our From Our In-Box page. We also authored many comprehensive ESSA tools for NAEHCY. You can find those tools, including materials to assist with training and implementation, here.

The federal McKinney-Vento Act requires states and school districts to remove barriers to the identification, enrollment, stability, and success of children and youth experiencing homelessness. In addition, Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and other laws and policies contain specific provisions on homelessness.

State Laws on High School Graduation for Students Experiencing Homelessness. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) places great emphasis on high school graduation for students experiencing homelessness. This document summarizes state laws that complement these federal requirements. Please contact Patricia Julianelle at to share information about other state laws that promote high school graduation for students experiencing homelessness.
  • Student Homelessness: Lessons from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)
    • The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was first developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1990 to assess the health risk behaviors of youth and adults in the United States. For the first time since the survey has been widely administered, the 2017 YRBS optional question list included two questions pertaining to homelessness. SchoolHouse Connection analyzed demographic and risk factor data from the YRBS in 17 states[i], comparing high school students experiencing homelessness and those not experiencing homelessness. This series shares the striking and heartbreaking results of that analysis, with tangible action steps schools can take to promote safety and health for students experiencing homelessness.
  • Risk and Resilience: Differences in Risk Factors and Health Outcomes Between Homeless and Non-Homeless Students in 2017 YRBS Data
    • The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was first developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1990 to assess the health risk behaviors of youth and adults in the United States. For the first time since the survey has been widely administered, the 2017 YRBS optional question list included two questions pertaining to homelessness. Using this YRBS data from 17 states (Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin), we conducted an analysis of differences in seven self-reported risk factors and health outcomes between high school students experiencing homelessness and those not experiencing homelessness. The results were striking and heartbreaking.
  • Resolution on Students Experiencing Homelessness, of the School Social Work Association of America. The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) believes that the supports, requirements, and best practices within ESSA are crucial to improving educational outcomes for students experiencing homelessness. SSWAA believes that more must be done to ensure compliance and hold states, districts, and schools accountable for implementing the requirements under MVA and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Additionally, there should be an increase in funding so that the rights of students experiencing homelessness can be adequately implemented.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Schools. This ground-breaking report, authored by Civic Enterprises and released by America’s Promise, is based on surveys of youth who have experienced homelessness, McKinney-Vento school district liaisons, and McKinney-Vento state coordinators. The website includes an excellent digital media toolkit with infographics that can be used in social media and other awareness-raising efforts.
  • Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness. ICPH has produced many important analyses and reports on children and youth experiencing homelessness, including state-specific reports.
  • NCHE’s Federal Data Summaries. NCHE produces federal data summaries on PreK-12 children and youth experiencing homelessness, from SY2006 to SY2014.

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