Homeless Youth

Homeless Youth in Schools

Homeless youth and students are a vulnerable population making up three percent of California’s students. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (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 school districts 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 school districts, direct-funded and locally funded charter schools, and county offices of education.

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 youths 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 youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; 

  • Children and youths 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 the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii)

Homeless Youth

Homeless youth is defined as children and youth and children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Housing Type

  • Hotels/Motels means living in a hotel or motel due to not having a fixed, permanent residence.

  • Temporarily Doubled-Up means living with relatives or friends, due to economic hardship (including unaccompanied youth and runaways).

  • Temporary Shelters means living in transitional housing.

  • Temporarily Unsheltered* means living in abandoned buildings, camp grounds, vehicles, trailer parks, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers, bus and train stations, or is abandoned in the hospital.

    • *Unsheltered is also defined as substandard or inadequate housing and is judged on a case-by-case basis. A rule of thumb would be to see the dwelling as comparable to an automobile, in that it shelters, yet it is not adequate housing.

Residence Type

  • Fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.

  • Regular residence is one that is used on a normal, standard, and consistent basis.

  • Adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.

School of Origin

School of origin is defined as the school that a child or youth attended when permanently housed, the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled when they became homeless, or a school that the child or youth has had some sort of connection to within the last 15 months.

School Stability

School stability measures the ability for a student to stay in a school for the entire school year.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth is defined as a youth that is not in the physical custody of their parent or guardian and meets the definition of homelessness, as stated above.