Enforcing Homeless Children's Right to Education
NLCHP at work
Children and youth without permanent housing often have problems enrolling and participating in school. As a result, Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987. This law gives these children and youth without a fixed, adequate night-time residence the right to remain in, and receive free transportation back to the same school even if they move, or enroll immediately in a new school without typically required records, as well as other rights to ensure the continuity of their education and their full participation in school. The law has been strengthened through amendment several times since then.
Despite these requirements, many schools fail to comply with the Act, either through ignorance of the law or active efforts toavoid the burdens of transporting or enrolling students. The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) protects the rights of children to attend school by enforcing the law, most often through trainings and working collaboratively with schools and parents to educate them about the law; the Law Center has also been active in Congress and with the U.S. Department of Education to expand the law. Litigation is sometimes necessary, however, and this fact sheet lists the cases we have brought under the Act. Beyond these cases, the Law Center has also consulted with and given technical support to many other legal organizations that have brought other litigation as well.