Students Experiencing Homelessness

The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires all school districts to ensure access to public education for children and youth experiencing homelessness and to ensure their success in school once enrolled.

The McKinney-Vento Act ensures the educational rights and protections of students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This includes students who are:

  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • Sharing the housing of other people due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
  • Living in motels, hotels or camping grounds due to the lack of an alternative adequate accommodation;
  • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, or similar settings.

Find Support!

Every local education agency (LEA) is required to designate a local homeless education liaison. The local liaison serves as one of the primary contacts between homeless families and school staff, district personnel, shelter workers, and other service providers.

Families of students experiencing homelessness should contact their district's local homeless education liaison for more information on the services and supports that may be available to them.  

Families with children under age six experiencing homelessness should contact their local Head Start program for more information on the services and supports that may be available to them:

Additional Resources

  • NCHE Homeless Education Helpline - The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) offers assistance with issues related to the education of children or youth experiencing homelessness.

ESSA Amendments to McKinney-Vento

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has amended the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The amendments to EHCY went into effect on October 1, 2016. Please see the links below for guidance related to the ESSA amendments.

Further Information

The McKinney-Vento program is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth have faced in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school.  Under the McKinney-Vento Act, students experiencing homelessness have certain educational rights, including the right to:

  • Immediately enroll in school, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment;
  • Enroll and attend classes while the school gathers needed documents;
  • Continue attending their school of origin (if requested and is feasible), or enroll in the local school;
  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if requested;
  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students.

The law also provides protections to homeless children and youth, including:

  • State or local policies must not keep homeless children and youth from attending school; and,
  • Homeless children and youth must not be segregated.

Additional Resources

  • NCHE Parent Brochure / En Español [PDF] - Explains the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness and informs parents about ways in which they can support their children's education during times of mobility.

Rhode Island homeless student enrollment data (by grade span and by primary nighttime residence):

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act authorizes RIDE to award grants to local school districts for the development and implementation or continuation of programs to provide supplementary educational and related services to homeless children and youth. RIDE offers a competitive grant application process for funds available through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act on a three year grant cycle.

Request for Proposals   [DOCX, 377 KB]

The 2022 McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Grant request for proposals (RFP) has been issued. This is a three year funding cycle.


All Rhode Island LEAs serving homeless students are eligible to apply.


The grant period is for one year, October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023. RIDE anticipates continued funding of successful homeless education programs for a three-year period. LEA proposals should address the one-year period from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023. In Year 2 and Year 3, should subsequent funding be available, RIDE will require grantees to submit a summary of the prior year’s activities including a performance report that demonstrates progress toward stated goals, together with an annual budget for the ongoing program year and applicable revisions to the original application submitted. The effective start date for funded programs is October 1, 2022.


Webinar: The Role of the Liaison in Implementing McKinney-Vento 

Presenter: Karen Rice, Senior Program Manager of Education Initiatives at Schoolhouse Connections 

Date: December 4th, 2023

This webinar will review the role of the homeless liaison to ensure compliance with McKinney-Vento and engage in best practices for supporting students experiencing homelessness.  

The webinar will address components such as: 

  • Identification 
  • Training 
  • Outreach and awareness 
  • Best interest determinations 
  • Unaccompanied youth available funding sources 

Session Recording: The Role of the Homeless Liaison 12.4.23

Session Slide Deck: The Role of the Homeless Liaison Presentation Deck 12.4.23