Kinship Care Assistance through the McKinney-Vento Act
Did you know that children in kinship care may qualify for assistance under the McKinney-Vento Act?
The definition of homelessness includes many children who are in kinship care. Homelessness is defined within the meaning of the act as a child who lacks 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 reasons.
What is McKinney-Vento?
The McKinney-Vento Act provides rights and services to children and youth experiencing homelessness, which includes those who are: sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; staying in motels, trailer parks, or campgrounds due to the lack of an adequate alternative; staying in shelters or transitional housing; or sleeping in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, or similar settings.
Subtitle VII-B of The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act authorizes the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It was reauthorized in December 2015 by Title IX, Part A, of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
How does it work at the local level?
McKinney-Vento benefits are coordinated at a local level by a local education agency (LEA), which must designate a liaison for students experiencing homelessness who is able to carry out the duties described in the law. Here, you can find your local McKinney Vento Liaison for your county: https://wvde.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Attendance-Director-Homeless-Liaison-List-2021.pdf
Some of those key duties of the liaison include:
- Ensuring that homeless children and youth are identified and enrolled in school, and have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in school.
- Ensuring that unaccompanied homeless youth are informed, and receive verification, of their status as independent students for college financial aid.
- Ensuring that homeless children, youth, and families receive referrals to health, dental, mental health, housing, substance abuse, and other appropriate services.
- Disseminating public notice of McKinney-Vento rights in locations frequented by parents and youth, in a manner and form understandable to them.
How can McKinney-Vento funds be used to help children in kinship homes?
Funds can be used to acquire or purchase:
- Tutors or other academic supports
- Basic School Supplies
- Transportation to and from school and extracurricular activities
- Costs of extracurricular activities, such as sports equipment and uniforms
- Clothing and personal essentials
- Counseling services
- Before-school, after-school and/or summer programs
- Graduation fees, cap and gown
- Costs for obtaining a GED
How does McKinney-Vento provide school stability?
- Homeless children and youth must be enrolled in school immediately, even if they lack documents or have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness.
- If a dispute arises over eligibility, school selection or enrollment, the child or youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth seeks enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute, including all available appeals.
- States must have procedures to ensure that homeless children and youth do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities.
- Children and youth experiencing homelessness can remain in their school of origin for the duration of homelessness and until the end of an academic year in which they obtain permanent housing, if it is in their best interest.
- LEAs must make best interest determinations that presume that staying in the school of origin is in the best interest of the child or youth; consider specific student-centered factors; prioritize the wishes of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth; and include a written explanation and right to appeal if the LEA determines that school stability is not in the best interest of the child or youth.
- Transportation to the school of origin is required, including until the end of the academic year when a student obtains permanent housing.