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McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance

Homeless Education Advisory 2002 - 1: Definitions

This advisory is intended to provide guidance as school districts begin to implement the requirements of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has adopted Section 725(2) of Act regarding the definition of homeless children and youth:

  • individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence or have a primary nighttime residence in a supervised, publicly or privately, operated shelter for temporary accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill), an institution providing temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

This definition shall include:

  • 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; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

  • 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 (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above; and

  • unaccompanied youth a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

In addition, according to McKinney-Vento, a fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change. A regular residence is one which is used on a regular (i.e., nightly) basis. An adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments. Therefore, children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate residence will be considered homeless.

Enroll and enrollment shall mean attending classes and participating fully in school activities.

School of origin shall mean the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled.



Last Updated: August 16, 2002
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