Temporary Housing & Education Rights
Educational Rights of Children and Youth Living in Temporary Housing in New York State
This guide does not provide legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional legal advice. It is a summary of policies and laws.
Kori Rogers, 845-568-6846
If your family is living in any of the following situations…
- In emergency or transitional housing;
- Sharing housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
- In a motel, hotel, trailer park, or camping grounds due to lack of other housing;
- In a car, park, public space, abandoned building, or bus or train station;
- Awaiting foster care placement; or
- In any of the above housing arrangements and are eligible for the Migrant Education Program
...your children have important educational rights under the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law.
This law protects the educational rights of children and youth living in temporary housing situations such as those described above. Children and youth living in these situations will be protected by the McKinney-Vento Act for the entire time they are living in a temporary housing situation.
Under the McKinney Vento Act, children and youth who are living in temporary housing situations have the right to...
- Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there;
- Choose between the school they attended before losing their housing (known as the school of origin) or the school where they were last enrolled (also known as the school of origin);
- Enroll and participate in school without providing proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents normally needed for enrollment;
- Receive transportation to and from the school of origin;
- Receive the same special programs and services, if needed, as those offered to other students who are eligible to receive them and;
- Enroll and attend classes in the school district even while the parent and the school resolve disagreements about enrollment.
Youth who are homeless and who are not living with their parents or legal guardians can and should go to school.
What is an unaccompanied youth?
An unaccompanied youth is a youth who is not in the physical custody of his or her parents. Unaccompanied youth are covered under McKinney-Vento if they are living in temporary housing.
If I am living apart from my parents in a temporary housing situation, can I enroll in school without my parents?
YES. Unaccompanied youth DO NOT need a parent’s permission to enroll in school. School districts should enroll unaccompanied youth immediately.
Should a school district enroll a student who is 16 and is living with friends temporarily, but whose parents say they want the student to come home?
YES. Students who are not living with a parent or guardian and who are living in a temporary housing situation (in other words, a housing arrangement that is not fixed, regular and adequate) can enroll themselves in school even if their parent or guardian says they can return home. For many of these students, school is their only safe, nurturing environment for them. Schools should not refuse to enroll students in order to force them to go home or to punish them for leaving home.
Can a student go back to high school even though she is 20 years old and left school 2 years ago?
YES. All youth who have not received a high school diploma have the right to attend school through the school year when they turn 21, even if they have dropped out. Students who have earned GEDs can also return to school to work towards a regular diploma. There may be special programs just for older students who may not have a lot of credits in the district or the local BOCES. Contact your school district’s central administration or the LEA liaison to find out more about these programs.
If a student wants to stay in the same school and is temporarily living with friends in a different district, does the original school district have to provide the student with transportation?
YES. All students covered under McKinney-Vento (students who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate housing situation) are entitled to transportation back to the school they attended when they lived with their parents.
Children and youth who are temporarily housed have the right to choose between the local school or the school of origin when deciding where they would like to attend school.
What is the local school?
The local school is the school zoned for the area where the student is temporarily living or any school permanently housed students living in the same zone can attend.
What is the school of origin?
The school of origin is the school where the student was last enrolled or the school the student attended before she lost her housing. This also includes the school the student was entitled to attend when permanently housed.
What if this is my child’s first year of school?
If your child has never been enrolled in school, you should find outwhich school is zoned for the address where you are temporarily living and enroll your child in that school.
How do I decide whether to transfer my children to the local school?
There are many things to consider when deciding where to send your child to school, and every family is different. It’s often better to keep children in the school they have been attending so they can remain with their classmates and teachers they know. Students who transfer have to make new friends and get used to new classes, and it can take several months for students to catch up with their school work. But sometimes it makes sense to transfer because of transportation issues, and, for some families, safety concerns.
Students who are temporarily housed must be enrolled in school immediately even if they do not have documents normally needed for enrollment, like:
- school records,
- medical records,
- proof of immunizations,
- birth certificates,
- proof of residency,
- guardianship papers or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
If you are living in temporary housing and need help or have a question about a school-related issue, contact:
NECSD Local Liaison:
Kori Rogers, 845-568-6846
NYS Technical Education and Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS)
Toll-free: (800) 388-2014
New York State Education Department Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program
State Program Associate
Melanie Faby 518-473-0295
Other Resources For Families
If you or your family need emergency housing, food or other health care contact the local Department of Social Services.
Please click on our Community Asset Map created to assist our school community in identifying the various resources available throughout our local municipalities.
New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS)
Toll-free number: (800) 388-2014
NYS-TEACHS provides information, referrals, and trainings to schools, school districts, social service providers, parents, and others about the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness. NYS-TEACHS is funded by the New York State Education Department. If you have any questions about this Guide, please contact NYSTEACHS at (800) 388-2014.