Homeless students must be enrolled in school immediately, even if missing records and documents normally required for enrollment, such as a proof of residency, academic records, birth certificate, proof of residence, or immunization/medical records. The receiving school shall immediately contact the school last attended by the child or youth to obtain relevant academic and other records. If a student does not have immunizations, or immunization or medical records, the school McKinney-Vento liaison must assist in obtaining them immediately; the student must be enrolled in school in the interim.
Students in transition must be enrolled in school immediately, even if they have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness (ESSA, 2016). Immediate enrollment is defined in the law as actively attending classes and participating fully in all school activities while the school gathers records.
Children and youth experiencing homelessness often do not have the documents ordinarily required for school enrollment. However, school may be the only opportunity for these children and youth to benefit from a stable environment, uninterrupted adult attention, peer relations, academic stimulation, and reliable meals. Enrolling homeless students in school immediately provides them with needed stability and avoids disconnecting them from school for days or weeks while documents are gathered.
Enrolling Without a Legal Guardian
Children or youth experiencing homelessness and enrolling in a school may not be living with their parents or legal guardians. Frequently, children in families experiencing homelessness are sent to live temporarily with friends or relatives. In other situations, youth have been forced to leave home due to abusive environments or are on their own for other reasons.
If a student may be or is eligible for McKinney-Vento services, no proof of guardianship is required. Lack of a legal guardian or guardianship documents cannot delay or prevent the enrollment of an unaccompanied youth. 42 U.S.C. §§11432(g)(3)(C), (g)(1)(H)(iv), (g)(1)(F)(ii).
Therefore, schools may not condition school enrollment upon the receipt of proof of legal guardianship by caregivers of homeless, unaccompanied youth; nor may they require caregivers to become legal guardians within a certain period of time, after the child enrolls in school. The decision to seek legal guardianship is a serious decision that affects significantly the legal rights of the parent and caregiver well beyond the education arena. In addition, it is important to note that the absence of an available caregiver must not impede enrollment. Unaccompanied, homeless youth who are on their own completely must be enrolled in school immediately.
LCS Enrollment Numbers
2019 - 2020 = 1142020 - 2021 = 1062021 - 2022 = 1372022-2023 = 131