COVID-19 Resources for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Please visit the California Department of Education website for resources related to homeless students' rights to enroll and participate fully in school.

Local Education Agencies must insure that children and youth experiencing homelessness are able to participate fully in school activities, and that barriers to identification, enrollment, and retention in school are identified and removed. Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to:

  • Immediate Enrollment (no matter the documentation)
  • Transportation (LEAs should continue providing transportation support as needed to eliminate barriers to enrollment, participation and retention in school, including to pick up meals or distance learning items), and
  • Academic Access (this includes free meals, and all other academic supports afforded to their housed peers and more).

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, or shelters.
  • 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.

Educational Rights Posters

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

Mary McGrath

Executive Director, Safe and Supportive Schools


Phone: (650) 802-5425

Leanne Wheeler

State Homeless Liaison, California Department of Education


Phone: (916) 319-0383

Joy Dardenelle

Executive Director, Systems for District Improvement


Phone: (650) 802-5315

Christian Morales-Aponte

Administrative Assistant, Bilingual


Phone: (650) 218-9621