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Tales from the Field: Back to School Focus on Identifying Students Experiencing Temporary Housing

Students experiencing temporary housing often experience barriers that prevent them from enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. At the start of a new school year, identifying families experiencing homelessness should be a priority!


The Tale: A grandmother comes into your district’s registrar to enroll her two grandchildren into school. One student is in elementary school and one student will be entering middle school. They previously attended school in a different district than the one that the grandmother lives in. During the conversation, you learn that the grandmother does not have any custody and the children just came to live with her this summer. The grandmother shared that there was Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement, and the children were placed in her care.


Questions to Ask:

  1. Are the children McKinney-Vento eligible?

  2. Can the grandmother enroll the children without guardianship papers?

  3. Since the children were previously enrolled in another district, where can the children attend school?


  1. Are the children McKinney-Vento eligible?

When a student has been removed from his/her home because of an allegation of abuse or neglect and the child welfare agency arranges for a relative or family friend to assume temporary custody of the student, this is a direct placement. (Please refer to the NYS Field Memo) In most of these cases, at least initially, the student should be considered homeless and therefore eligible under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Furthermore, these children would be designated as unaccompanied homeless youths (UHYs). An unaccompanied youth is a student who is not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian. Unaccompanied youths are homeless if their housing situation meets the definition of homeless.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youths” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence". The term includes children and youths who are: sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”); living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; living in emergency or transitional shelters; or abandoned in hospitals; (Education Law §3209(1)(a); 8 NYCRR §100.2(x)(1))

2. Can the grandmother enroll the children without guardianship papers?

3. Since the children were previously enrolled in another district, where can the children attend school?


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