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Education for Homeless Children & Youth



Homeless Youth Services shares recent information about Merced County’s homeless youth population, so service providers, including school staff, community agencies, government agencies and any other entities, can better meet needs of the homeless youth population.

The Homeless Youth Assistance Directory is designed for youth ages 13 - 24 who are experiencing homelessness or are without a stable place to spend the night, this includes living in a vehicle, a motel or at a friend or family member's couch. The directory provides information about various agencies that provide services for those in need.

In 1987 President Reagan signed the McKinney-Vento Act into law.  The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal mandate created to ensure students experiencing homelessness have the right to an equal and fair education.  Merced County Office of Education supports the McKinney-Vento Act by assisting school districts, families, and community agencies. 

The McKinney-Vento Act applies to children and youth age 21 and under, consistent with their eligibility for public education services under state and federal law. State laws vary, but generally provide access to all students until high school graduation or equivalent, or until age 18 (or over in some states). For special education students, federal law provides the right to access services until age 22. 20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(1)(A).


The McKinney-Vento Act defines the term homeless as any individual lacking a fixedregularadequate night-time residence.
If a family, child, or youth is living in one of the following (see examples below) please contact the district liaison to find out more information.


  • Hotel, Motel
  • Trailer
  • Vehicle
  • Shelter
  • Public Space
  • Abandoned building
  • Youth not in the care of a parent or guardian
  • Living with another family due to financial reasons
  • Any place not designated to live


What does fixedregular, and adequate mean?

Fixed:  A fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.

Regular: A regular residence is one which is used on a regular (i.e., nightly) basis.

Adequate: An adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.

  • Though homeless children and youths may face great challenges, teachers, school leaders, counselors, and other caring school staff can ensure that a student's rights are upheld and can work to connect students to other supports that can make a world of difference. 

  • Create a welcoming climate and build trust with all students.
  • Help to identify and support homeless students.
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison Toolkitprovides clear and specific explanations of the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act and includes practices, procedures, and tools gathered from effective local homeless education programs.

  • Local Homeless Education Liaisons: Understanding Their Role - provides information on the role of the local homeless education liaison, reviews the duties of the local liaison, and provides strategies for local liaisons to carry out their responsibilities.

  • Be sensitive and understanding.
  • Ensure that school and classroom policies and procedures, such as disciplinary policies, are fair to homeless students and do not negatively impact them because of their homelessness
  • Learn more about the McKinney-Vento Act and connect with your local liaison.
  • Unaccompanied Youth Flowchartsa tool created by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) which can serve, in general terms, to determine eligibility for McKinney-Vento services as an unaccompanied homeless student.

  • Supporting Homeless Children and Youth with Disabilities  Legislative Provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • Understanding Privacy Standards of Student Educational and Health Records An explanation of the relationship between FERPA and HIPAA and how these laws apply to records maintained and shared between schools and other agencies.

More to Explore


Lucia Tejeda

Youth Services Specialist
(209) 381-5156