Homeless children and youth report that school is a home to them – a place where they see the same faces, sit in the same seat, and can put their hearts and minds into pursuits that ease their daily troubles. In school, students gain the skills and support needed to avoid poverty and homelessness as adults.

Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Students


Setting the Context

All children living in the United States are entitled to a free appropriate public education, regardless of their or their parents' actual or perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. This includes children who are unaccompanied (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian). Further, immigrant, migrant, and refugee students experiencing homelessness are entitled to the rights and services provided under the McKinney-Vento Act to the same extent as other students living in homeless situations.

NAEHCY Resources

Immigration and Schools: Supporting Success for Undocumented Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Attending school and securing lawful status in the United States are two keys to safety and security for undocumented unaccompanied homeless youth. This brief, co-authored by NAEHCY and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), is designed for young people, immigration attorneys and advocates, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and other educators. It provides information about federal laws that provide the means for undocumented unaccompanied youth who are homeless to attend school and address their immigration status.

*UPDATED Nov 2014* Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Education and Homelessness
This brief and companion flowchart aim to assist McKinney-Vento and other education staff in determining the McKinney-Vento eligibility of unaccompanied immigrant children who may be arriving in their communities and providing these children with appropriate services.
Download the Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Education and Homelessness brief.
Download the companion Unaccompanied Immigrant Children and the McKinney-Vento Act: Overall Process from Apprehension through Placement flowchart.

Federal Resources

Educational Services for Immigrant Children and Those Recently Arrived to the United States
In response to inquiries regarding educational services for unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who have recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, this U.S. Department of Education fact sheet provides information to help education leaders better understand the responsibilities of states and local educational agencies (LEAs) in connection with such students, and the existing resources available to help educate all immigrant students, including children who recently arrived in the United States.

U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice: Dear Colleague Letter on Education for Undocumented Students
This May 2014 letter from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice reiterate the federal government's commitment to ensuring that all children and youth are provided with access to a free, appropriate public education, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The letter provides examples of acceptable and unacceptable enrollment practices for school districts to employ.
Download the USED/USDOJ Dear Colleague letter.
Download the companion USED/USDOJ fact sheet.
Download the companion USED/USDOJ question and answer document.

Other Resources

National Center for Homeless Education
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) serves as the information and technical assistance center for the U.S. Department of Education's Education for Homeless Children and Youth program.
Visit NCHE's Immigrants and Refugees resources webpage.
Visit NCHE's Migrant Students resources webpage.

NAEHCY 2018 Conference
Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
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