Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness or Foster Care Placements

McKinney Vento Homeless

Definition of Homeless -

In 1987, Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to aid homeless persons. The Act defines the term “homeless children and youths” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. In December 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was enacted amending McKinney-Vento.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Basic Education Circular – Education for Homeless Youth further provides categories of children who are homeless and entitled to the protections of the federal law. These categories include (but are not limited to) students who are:

  • Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reasons;
  • Living in motels, hotels or camp grounds or are unsheltered due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian



Homeless Students



Rights of Homeless Students


Students classified as homeless under McKinney-Vento are entitled to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths free from barriers that many homeless students face.


Those rights include:

  • Staying in the same school even if you move, and receiving transportation to that school, as long as it is in the student’s best interest
  • Enrolling in school immediately without the documents schools usually require
  • Receiving free school meals
  • Getting help with school supplies and other needs
  • Extra support for youth who are on their own
  • Help connecting young children with early childhood services



Foster Care Placements


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorized in 2015 to include protections for students in foster care.  The inclusion of foster care in ESSA aimed to enhance collaboration and align both education and child welfare systems to improve educational outcomes.


Key Provisions from ESSA


How do LEAs and CCYAs Meet the Provisions

  • Collaboration between School Districts and CYS agencies
  • School Placement Best Interest Determinations (BIDs) - Students placed in foster care must remain in their school of origin unless a determination is made that it is not in the child's best interest.
  • Immediate Enrollment and Records Transfers - If the BID meeting determines that the student should not remain in the school of origin then enrolling the student(s) in the new district should occur immediately. Enrollment must not be denied or delayed because documents normally required for enrollment have not been provided. 
  • Transportation - LEAs and CCYAs must collaborate to provide, arrange, and fund transportation for students to attend the school placement determined by the BID.



(fax)  717-530-2847

Office Hours
8:00am - 3:30pm

McKinney Vento Homeless Liaison and Foster Point of Contact
Mrs. Lauren Zima-Engro, ext. 1041



Student Services Secretary
Mrs. Kristin Greene, ext. 1044