Homeless Children/Youth Have the Right to a Free, Appropriate Public Education

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is federal legislation that protects “homeless” school age children/youth by ensuring school stability. Entitlements such as transportation, free lunch program, and immediate enrollment assist in removing barriers to their education.

Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Students Experiencing Homelessness

McKinney-Vento: Federal Homeless Education Legislation

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures the educational rights and protections of homeless children and youth so that they may enroll in school, attend regularly, and be successful. The legislation requires a local homeless education liaison in every school district to assist children and unaccompanied youth in their efforts to attend school. This act guarantees homeless children and youth the following:

  • The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
  • The right to attend school in his/her school of origin (if this is requested by the parent and is feasible) or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing.
  • The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent.
  • The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
  • The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student’s status as homeless is strictly prohibited.
  • The posting of homeless students’ rights in all schools and other places around the community.

While having the opportunity to enroll and succeed in school may seem like a given to many of us, the McKinney-Vento Act was enacted due to the numerous barriers homeless children faced in obtaining a free, appropriate, public education. It is the goal of School District 89 to create public awareness of the rights of homeless children and youth and to ensure compliance with the law at the state and local levels.

Who is homeless?

The term “homeless children and youth” as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act;
Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and includes—

  • Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or a awaiting foster care placement.
  • Children and youths who have a primary nighttime 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 a car, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus/train stations, or similar settings,
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described above.

If you have questions regarding homeless status and provision of educational services, please contact School District 89 at 708-450-2460 and connect with the Student Services Department. Suzanne Bement, Executive Director of Student Services is the Homeless Liaison for School District 89.

For more information, visit the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children page on the Illinois State Board of Education website.


A list of additional resources across the District 89 area can be found here:

Dispute Resolution

Information about dispute resolution can be found here: