Services for Homeless Students

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures the educational rights and protections of homeless children and youth so that they may enroll in school, attend regularly, and be successful. The legislation requires a local homeless education liaison in every school district to assist children and unaccompanied youth in their efforts to attend school.

This Act guarantees homeless children and youth the following:
  • The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment
  • The right to attend school in his/her school of origin or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing
  • The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin
  • The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services
  • The right to an “equal playing field” and the removal of all barriers to receiving educational services
  • The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student's status as homeless is strictly prohibited.
  • The posting of homeless students’ rights in all schools and other places around the community.

Have you recently lost housing and had to move in with friends or family until you can get back on your feet?
Your child’s school is here to help to make sure that he/she gets all the benefits provided under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act.
Who qualifies for this help?
The law states that any student that does not have a fixed, regular, and adequate place to sleep at night qualifies for educational assistance. This includes students and families that stay at a shelter, on the street, in a car, or abandoned building. Families that have lost their housing and need to double-up with friends or relatives because they cannot afford their own place also qualify.
Choice of Schools
Changing schools frequently can negatively impact students' education, causing them to fall behind. Students that qualify for educational assistance through the McKinney-Vento Act can stay at the school they have been attending or transfer to the district in which they are temporarily staying. The caregiver of the student will make this choice. This does not mean you can go to any school. It has to be one of the schools noted above. Once you and your family become permanently housed, your student may finish the school year at his/her current school or transfer to the new district. Your school’s liaison can assist you in whichever decision you make for your student.
Immediate Enrollment
School districts are required to enroll McKinney-Vento eligible students without delay, even if you do not have your student’s school or medical records. If you need assistance getting educational or medical records, ask to speak with the district’s liaison. They will assist you.
If you, as the caregiver, choose for your student to remain at the home school, the school district will work with you on transportation options. If the ride to school is estimated to be more than one hour, the district or liaison can request a meeting with you to determine how this may affect your student’s education.

Free Lunch and School Fees
Because of your unstable housing situation, your student is eligible to receive a free lunch each day, and if the district provides a breakfast program, that will also be provided at no cost. In addition, your student should not be charged to attend school. This includes books, locks, gym uniforms, class fees, sports programs, and graduation fees.

Homelessness and Food Resources
The North Cook Immediate Service Center has a variety of resources that can help if you are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity and here is a link with helpful resources for LGBTQ students who are experiencing homelessness.

Early Childhood
Children under the age of five (5) may qualify for educational services. Speak with your liaison or district’s early childhood staff for available programs in your area. Studies show PreK programs can help children get off to a good start in school.
Settling Disputes

With your McKinney-Vento eligibility, you must be provided with a written explanation of the district’s intent to dispute. Your school district must also provide you with a list of low-cost or free legal services to assist you during the dispute/appeal process. Once you have received notice that your district has filed for dispute, please contact your regional liaison. In the event of a dispute, your Regional Office of Education or Intermediate Service Center will appoint a mediator. The mediator will set a meeting time that is convenient for you and the school district in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If you do not agree with the decision of the mediator, you can appeal to the Illinois State Board of Education.
District Liaison
If you have any questions or need more information, contact Dr. Kristin Swanson at [email protected] or you can leave her a message at 847-512-6004.