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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.  

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

Educational Rights of Homeless Children & Youth

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 Brouchure / 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.

Homeless Student Data

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

Additional Resources

McKinney-Vento Grants

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

The 2019-20 McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Grant Program application period is now closed.


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

Duration of the Grant

The grant period is for one year, October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. RIDE anticipates continued funding of successful homeless education programs for a three-year period. The grant is currently in its second year of funding for the one-year period from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.