School Enrollment for Unaccompanied Youth
Eliminating Barriers to Education
Unaccompanied youth are young people "not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian," including youth who have run away from home or have been forced to leave their home. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, schools must immediately enroll homeless youth in school, even if they lack guardianship documents and attempt to enroll without a legal guardian. Despite this requirement, school policies that require parent or guardian involvement in enrollment complicate the immediate enrollment of unaccompanied youth.
To eliminate these barriers and ensure immediate access to school for unaccompanied youth, the McKinney-Vento Act requires states and local educational agencies to develop, review and revise policies to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention in school of unaccompanied youth and all homeless children and youth. This memo outlines some of the approaches some states have taken to remedy the enrollment difficulties faced by unaccompanied youth. (NLCHP, 2003)