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Tales from the Field: Determining Eligibility and Transportation for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

In this fourth installment, NYSTEACHS continues to take a different approach to the blog and share actual calls from the field. We hope that these actual scenarios and the responses to them will help McKinney-Vento liaisons when faced with similar situations in their schools. As always, a wealth of resources are available on our website, include many recordings and documents from our previous webinars and web series.

The Tale:

This week let’s take a look at a student that left home:

A 17-year-old girl living in the North Country School District had a fight with her mother and left home to live doubled-up with a friend’s parents in a neighboring district. She has requested transportation back to her school in the district of origin. The McKinney-Vento Liaison spoke to the girl's mother, who said she didn’t kick her daughter out of her home and the girl is free to return at any time. The Liaison wants to know if this student is an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth if she wasn't forced to leave home.


1. Is the student McKinney Vento eligible?

2. Based on McKinney-Vento legislation, is the child eligible to receive transportation?


  1. First, review the McKinney-Vento Act and New York State guidance regarding families and McKinney-Vento eligibility. As always, you can find a wealth of resources on eligibility right here on our NYSTEACHS website.

  2. Next, read about laws on providing transportation to the district of origin. You can find that information HERE.

  3. After reviewing the rules on eligibility, if you’re still unsure of what to advise, you are absolutely encouraged to call the helpline for assistance: 1-800-388-2014.


Question 1: Is the student McKinney Vento eligible?

Yes. This student is McKinney-Vento eligible since she is an unaccompanied homeless youth. An unaccompanied youth is not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian and the housing is not fixed, regular and adequate. According to the National Center for Homeless Education, (Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Students Experiencing Homelessness Brief, 2017, pp. 2-3), the McKinney-Vento Act neither authorizes nor requires schools to make judgments about the validity of why a student is not living with a parent or guardian. Rather, determinations of McKinney-Vento eligibility are to be based solely on the definitions of unaccompanied and homeless included in the Act. Therefore, even if the student could return home, she is still eligible for the McKinney-Vento designation.

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); see also 42 USC §11434A(2)(B)(i); U.S. DOE’s Non-Regulatory Guidance, Question A-2,).

Question 2: Can the Child receive transportation to the school of origin?

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