Immediate Enrollment Under McKinney-Vento: How Schools Can Keep Homeless Students Safe

Children and youth in homeless situations, particularly unaccompanied youth and survivors of domestic violence, are at a high risk for experiencing violence and victimization.  Frequently, unaccompanied youth become homeless after leaving abusive or destructive home environments. In turn, their homelessness, which often involves “couch surfing” (staying temporarily with friends or relatives), or living on the streets, places them at risk of further victimization, including robbery and assault. Similarly, many survivors of domestic violence flee violent home environments only to find that their batterers continue to pursue them. Keeping their whereabouts secret is often a matter of life and death.

By protecting confidential information, communicating with care and sensitivity, and building collaborations with community service providers and advocates, schools can play a pivotal role in protecting the safety of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

It is important to remember that the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires the immediate enrollment of children and youth experiencing homelessness, even in the absence of records normally required for enrollment.1 School is the safest place to be for children who may be in danger. Use this checklist to help make your school district a safe place.