Homeless Definition

Who is considered homeless?

Title X, Part C of the No Child Left Behind Act defines homelessness as living in the following places due to a lack of a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

  • In an emergency or transitional shelter
  • In a motel, hotel, or campground
  • In a car, park, public place, bus or train station, or abandoned building
  • Doubled up with relatives or friends
  • In the above conditions and is a migratory child or youth
  • Further descriptions of nighttime residence

This definition of homelessness applies to children and youth with:

  • Uncertain housing
  • A temporary address
  • No permanent physical address

Children and youth living in these settings meet criteria for the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and have special educational rights.

Where can a child or youth without a fixed, regular, and adequate residence attend school?

  • The school the child or youth attended before becoming homeless or was last enrolled (school of origin)
  • The school in the attendance area where the child or youth is currently living

How can delays be avoided when enrolling a student experiencing homelessness in school?

  • Enroll the student immediately
  • Contact the previous school and ask that the records be sent electronically or shared over the phone
  • Contact the principal, school counselor, or local homeless education liaison with any concerns
  • Contact the local homeless education liaison to support unaccompanied youth when enrolling in school
Confirming Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Services: Do’s and Don’ts for Local Liaisons [pdf]

For more information on enrollment and services for students experiencing homelessness, contact Project HOPE-Virginia or the local homeless education liaison [pdf] for your school division.