McKinney-Vento Act

The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in January 2002, protects the educational rights of children and youths experiencing homelessness. The intent of the law is to make certain that homeless students have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education—including a public preschool education—that is provided to other students. Homeless students have the right to enroll in and attend school, participate fully in the school program, and have the opportunity to meet the same challenging academic achievement standards to which all students are held.

Definition of Homeless Children and Youths

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youths as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night time 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.
  • Children and youths who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters, or awaiting foster care placement.
  • Children and youths who have a primary night time residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a 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 because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.

SMCOE Brochures

Educational Rights Posters

Visit County of San Mateo's website for their Community Information Handbook.

Mary McGrath

Director, Safe and Supportive Schools


Phone: (650) 802-5425

Leanne Wheeler

State Homeless Liaison, California Department of Education


Phone: (916) 319-0383

Joy Dardenelle

Administrator, Systems for District Improvement


Phone: (650) 802-5315